Our team's mission is to empower our clients to tax-efficiently protect and preserve assets, reduce family conflict, and maximize government benefits.

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"Is your estate plan, will, or trust sufficient or deficient?"

Areas of Practice

ESTATE PLANNING, WILLS, TRUSTS AND FAMILY PARTNERSHIPS

I grew up with divorced parents. My father was a doctor, and my mother was a Medicaid public benefits clerk. I learned through the unique perspectives of my parents about the importance of protecting assets for professionals and about the lifeline that Medicaid provides to chronically disabled persons and their families.

My legal experience matches my unique perspective. Representing buyers and sellers for the purchase and sale of a business, mergers and acquisitions, and building family partnerships from the ground up enables me to see all sides and angles of particular plans and structures. I reflect on my unique perspective when counseling and advising business owners, professionals, physicians, and those who are comfortable but not rich as well as those struggling to make ends meet.

I offer you my time and attention as you and I review your family dynamics, net worth, asset structure, and your previous will or estate plan. If you have not signed an estate plan yet, the State of Texas has one written for you that may not be the one you would choose. Your asset protection plan may need to be more sophisticated or simpler than you thought. I help by asking the tough questions, not because I’m nosey or insensitive, but because the tough questions lead to the solutions you might not have realize existed.

- Todd A. Marquardt, Managing Attorney and President

ELDER LAW & MEDICAID

Grandaddy was not prepared for my Grandmommy to enter the nursing home. She could no longer care for herself and he could not care for her medical needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She had osteoarthritis in her back, and she just couldn't move anymore. Grandaddy wasn't prepared for the high cost of long-term nursing care. I told him, "Grandaddy, I think there is something we can do to save money and get qualified for government benefits." He said, "no there's not; I already tried."

Grandaddy had “powdered bottom syndrome.” What's that? That's when your grandaddy refuses your legal advice because he powdered your bottom! His wife, my grandmother, was in the nursing home for two and a half years. Grandaddy was scared to death of poverty like most people his age. Naturally, I sought to use my talents to help him protect and preserve his assets. Unfortunately, Grandaddy never accepted my legal advice.

Fortunately, this situation led me to this calling - to walk with elderly clients and their adult children to maximize the tax dollars they have already paid during their working years by qualifying for government benefits to pay the high cost of long term care. That conversation with Grandaddy led me to research the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and its effect on strategies elder law attorneys were using to help people qualify for Medicaid to pay for long term care. My research was published as Reliance on Inadequate Government Programs and the Struggle for Long-Term Care in the Journal for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in May 2006.

My philosophy for the practice of Elder Law is not new. In fact, my philosophy can be summarized by a British legal scholar:

"There is a moral responsibility, even higher than the legal, for children to help their needy parents. The duties of children to their parents arise from a principal of natural justice and retribution. For those who gave us existence, we naturally owe subjection and obedience during our minority and honor and reverence ever after; They who protected the weakness of our infancy, are entitled to our protection in the infirmity of their age; They, who by sustenance and education, have enabled their offspring to prosper, ought in return to be supported by that offspring, in case they stand in need of assistance.” - 1 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, at 453 (19th ed.1836)

- Todd A. Marquardt, Managing Attorney and President

GUARDIANSHIP, PROBATE & TRUST ADMINISTRATION

Have you ever personally changed the oil in your automobile? I have. It is one of those things that some people figure out, do themselves, and save money. It is also one of those things that can lead to very significant damage and high repair costs. I can tell you from my own experience that you must make sure the seal for the old oil filter is removed before you install the new oil filter. If you forget, like I did, there will be a big oil mess and a big price to pay to fix the engine.

The same is true for administration of a probate estate and dissolution and termination of a trust. It is possible for an individual to administer a probate estate or a trust without the help of a professional. It is not, however, advisable.

A probate personal representative, independent executor, and trustee all have fiduciary duties. The fiduciary duty is the highest duty imposed by law. The law requires that the personal representative, executor, and trustee follow the instructions of the will or trust and also to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Just like a mistake while changing the oil in your automobile is costly, a mistake made acting as personal representative, executor, or trustee is also expensive. A breach of the fiduciary duty will result in personal liability of the personal representative, executor, or trustee.

- Todd A. Marquardt, Managing Attorney and President

BUSINESS LAW

I learned about business first hand. A friend and I established an informal partnership for a lawn maintenance business. We raised capital to purchase equipment, repaid loans, earned profits, and trained our first employee. Our business was a success, but our business succession plan was a failure. We eventually dissolved the business without earning a profit on the goodwill of our customers because we didn't plan well enough to sell it. Starting a business, inviting customers onto your property, and hiring employees without establishing a legal entity for the business assets and operations is like building a house without a foundation. Yes, you could live in it, but a strong wind or heavy rain might destroy it. Similarly, a business without a legal entity that is victimized by frivolous lawsuits, meritless unemployment claims, or sudden economic decline could snatch your investment and destroy the business you built with your own blood, sweat, and tears.

My friend and I were lucky that there wasn't a lot of money at stake. We didn't have mortgages or children who depended on us. I'm passionate about helping the business owner because I was and still am a business owner. I have the education and experience to empower you to structure your business to give it a firm foundation that will protect your investment.

- Todd A. Marquardt, Managing Attorney and President