TEXAS REAL ESTATE LAW – BUSINESS LAW - ASSET PROTECTION
Thank you for visiting. This website is a service of DAVID J. WILLIS ATTORNEY AND REAL ESTATE BROKER, a Texas law firm established in 1980. Its purpose is to expand the scope of our law firm’s traditional services by providing high-quality online counsel relating to Texas real estate and business law with an additional focus on asset protection. LoneStarLandLaw has assisted more than a thousand online clients over the past decade and has a proven record of expertise, efficiency, and integrity.
Documents and services are offered to clients who are buying, selling, leasing, or investing in residential or commercial Texas real estate. These range from a simple warranty deed to complex and creative transactional asset protection documentation. Strategic planning and investment structuring utilizing Texas LLCs and Nevada LLCs, as well as creative devices such as trusts and anonymity techniques, are also offered.
David J. Willis is a double board-certified Texas lawyer on the cutting edge of the intersection of real estate law and asset protection, particularly in his use of series LLCs for investor clients with multiple properties or businesses. His innovative concepts and methods are changing the ways investors structure their real estate and commercial investments.
David J. Willis has practiced real estate and business law in Houston for over 35 years, so we of course have our established Houston clientele. Our website expands this reach. Online clients include businesspersons and investors in Texas properties who reside around the globe – literally from Singapore to San Antonio to Spain – so we operate in multiple time zones. Accordingly, emails are given absolute priority over phone calls and are answered promptly.
UNIQUE ONLINE PROCESS
The success of this website has changed the way our law firm does business. All new cases are now reviewed and accepted online at Contact Us. No new cases are discussed on the phone or accepted by phone. Routine matters, including inquiries and initial consultations are handled exclusively online and, after an email discussion of the issues, may be supplemented by phone if needed. In-office services are also available but at 150% of online fees.
We request that all inquirers please follow our proven online process:
(1) Please read our web article pertaining to your legal issue to learn applicable law and then send us a concise email using the Client Inquiry Form at Contact Us.
(2) We will promptly respond with brief comments (not a full consult), a confirmation that we handle your type of case, and a fee quote if you are seeking something other than a consultation. Sample consult fees are:
Residential Real Estate Consultation – $150 up to $600,000; $250 over
Commercial Real Estate Consultation – $250 up to $600,000; $350 over
Asset Protection Review or APR (to consider an asset protection plan):
Issues/Assets/Amounts up to $600,000 – $250
A detailed list of fees for other services is available at Fees & Policies.
$601,000 – $1,100,000 – $500
In Excess of $1,100,000 – $1,500
(3) Go to Make Payment and cover the consult fee or other fee we have quoted, then send us an email with a description of your circumstances and a list of questions.
(4) We will need to see any documents relevant to your case. Email or fax these after making payment (not before please, since we will not have yet set up your file).
(5) We will analyze your case, discuss it with you in a dialogue format, offer options, and/or deliver draft documents, as appropriate. It is not necessary to set a specific appointment time.
(6) Our goal is a one business day turnaround whenever possible. Reasonable follow-up questions and document changes are included within the immediate time frame (3 days) after which the consultation concludes and documents are automatically considered final.
FEES AND COSTS
We are a law firm whose core business is offering advice and services to our real estate, business, and asset protection clients. Accordingly, we are unable to offer free advice or services. Our fees are usually quoted in the form of flat fees (plus costs) rather than hourly rates. We strive for 100% transparency when it comes to legal fees. Go to Fees & Policies for details on fees plus our terms of service which apply to all clients in lieu of fee agreements or engagement letters.
35 years experience in Texas transactions and litigation
– Residential Real Estate Law, TBLS
– Commercial Real Estate Law, TBLS
for ethical standards and professional ability
Two law degrees (J.D. and LL.M.)
Former adjunct law professor
Texas real estate broker
Listed as one of Texas’ Top-Rated Lawyers by Law.com
Verify these credentials
ETHICS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Adherence to high ethical and performance standards is part of our firm philosophy. We subscribe to The Texas Lawyer’s Creed and the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors. Our clients’ confidentiality is paramount. Even so, we are occasionally asked for a client list. This is never provided. We would no more reveal the identity of our clients than would a Swiss bank.
TEXAS AND NEVADA ENTITY FORMATION
We form LLCs in Texas and Nevada (our preferred asset protection states) to achieve operational efficiency as well as liability protection, anonymity, deterrence of lawsuits, and insulation from judgments. We recommend the new series LLC which compartmentalizes assets and liabilities into Series A, Series B, etc., so the same company may safely hold multiple properties or businesses without risk of spillover liability. For a compact outline, view four levels of asset protection. To date, we have likely formed more series LLCs than any other law firm in Texas.
We often succeed in simplifying the way our clients do business while significantly improving asset protection. One approach is our classic two-company structure, consisting of a shell management company (usually a traditional LLC) that conducts daily business alongside a separate, stand-alone holding company (a series LLC) that remains quietly in the background (no privity with the public) and owns hard assets in individual series. View our diagram of the two-company structure.
Another approach, suitable for our more diversified clients, is to form a series hub company in either Texas or Nevada and utilize Series A, Series B, and so forth to own and manage separate subsidiary LLCs dedicated to different enterprises. The hub company may itself anonymously owned, forming what we call a “Chinese Puzzle Box” – a daunting obstacle to any plaintiff who seeks to reach our client’s assets. View our diagram of the hub-sub structure.
If you would like an overview of our approach to entity structuring and asset protection, read Asset Protection in Texas.
We have a limited inventory of established Texas and Nevada shelf companies that include our best anonymity and asset protection features, including already registered assumed names. These premium LLCs are ready for immediate shipment to clients for whom time is a critical factor.
Wraparounds, assumptions, "subject to" sales, owner financing, land trusts, options, and other creative transactions are a specialty of ours – even though availability of certain of these devices is limited by 2005 changes to the Texas Property Code affecting executory contracts. We send transactional documentation to our buyer, seller, and investor clients wherever in the world they may be located.
LIVING TRUSTS AND ANONYMITY TRUSTS
Living trusts for the homestead avoid probate while preserving homestead protections and lower ad valorem tax status. A living trust (combined with a pour-over will) should be considered as part of most estate plans and as an adjunct to asset protection planning. Read Living Trusts in Texas.
Anonymity trusts (a different, edgier category) are specialized devices suited for sophisticated investors. We also offer a unique and creative method by which a trust simultaneously controls an investor’s LLC. For an example, see diagram.
Asset protection includes removal of judgment liens from the homestead. This can be challenging but has been made easier by the new statutory affidavit procedure (Property Code Sec. 52.0012c) for liens abstracted after September 2007. $950 handled exclusively online. Note that this statute has its shortcomings (it does not require title companies to accept the statutory affidavit) and accordingly we offer no guarantees. Read Lien Removal in Texas.
ANNUAL DOCUMENT REVIEW (ADR)
Our documents and asset protection strategies are continually evolving and innovating. The ADR is offered for clients who have asked us to prepare business or asset protection documents in the prior year. The purpose of the ADR is to (1) make sure that the client has the latest version of each document in the client’s package; and (2) in the case of LLCs, to prepare minutes for the annual meeting.
COMPARISON TO OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES
LoneStarLandLaw is occasionally compared to Legalzoom and other online resources. We are not enthusiastic about this comparison since others typically offer rote forms at a simplistic level that are not prepared by lawyers or even compliant with Texas law. We spend considerable time re-writing internet junk that has caused more harm than benefit to our clients. By contrast, this firm offers custom documentation on a per-transaction basis at a high level of creativity and expertise.
LoneStarLandLaw serves real estate and business clients worldwide. Our principal office is in the Houston area which encompasses Harris County, Fort Bend County, and Montgomery County. David J. Willis is a Texas real estate attorney serving Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Galveston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Midland, El Paso, and all areas of Texas. David J. Willis is also a Texas business and asset protection attorney for anyone who owns real estate or business interests in Texas and is considering forming a Texas series LLC or a Nevada series LLC as part of an asset protection plan for real estate investments or other commercial interests.
RESULT: SEPARATION OF ASSETS FROM ACTIVITIES