Archive for January, 2013


Cities Served

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Straight Talk | Great Solutions | Exceptional Counsel

At the Cecil E. Berg Law firm located in Onalaska, TX, we are the ones to call because we always work for you to obtain the best outcome for your case.  Call us if you are looking for the following legal services and representation:

  • Wills and Probate
  • Criminal Law including DUI, DWI, BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) and other Alcohol Related Crimes.
  • Family Law including Divorce, Adoption, Grandparents rights, Post decree modifications and more
  • Gun and Gun Range related lawsuits.

…in the following cities:

  • Onalaska
  • Livingston
  • Coldspring
  • Huntsville
  • Cleveland
  • Conroe
  • Willis
  • Kingwood
  • The Woodlands
  • Shepherd
  • New Caney
  • Splendora
  • and elsewhere in the Counties we serve

…in the following Counties in Texas:

  • Polk County Texas
  • San Jacinto County Texas
  • Walker County Texas
  • Montgomery County Texas

Just give us a call because we can help and we want to!

Call us today: 936.646.6978 or send us a message

Our clients come first and our objective is always to get the best outcome for our clients.

Going Out Tonight?

Monday, January 7th, 2013

If you do, remember they are too!

I defend clients every week charged with DWI, DUI, Boating While Intoxicated and other alcohol related crimes in Walker, Polk, San Jacinto and Montgomery Counties in Texas.  I am here to tell you that an effective DWI defense is not cheap!

If I can give you one reason not to drink and drive, consider this: A driving-while-intoxicated conviction is a financial storm and the devastation it causes is hard to recover from!  A typical DWI charge will cost you approximately $10,000 when everything is said and done.  By the time you pay bail bond, fines, fees, court ordered classroom training and insurance expenses that will go up, even if you didn’t hit anything, or hurt anybody.

The penalties for DWI, DUI, Boating While Intoxicated and other alcohol related crimes are intended to discourage drinking and driving and alcohol related crimes.  In the United States, Alcohol played a role in nearly 32% of all automobile fatalities in 2009.  That translates to 10,839 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  They say that there was an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes in 2009.

The State of Texas is cracking down, partly due to publicity, political pressure and just plain common sense.  All 50 states now have a DWI threshold at .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Level) and some have enacted increased penalties for a BAC over .15.  When we discuss penalties here, we are assuming a first time offender.  Costs go up if you are a repeat offender.

Be advised that the costs below are actually very conservative.  Take a look at what the Texas Dept. of Transportation says a DWI can cost you here.  There is a lot of good information and advise there as well!

Let’s take a look at some of the costs.  First off, there is Bail. If you are arrested for DWI, you will have to pay bail to get released from jail after your arrest. The Cost: $150-$2,500.   If you have to use a bonding company, add their fees and you have to secure the bond with assets you have worked hard for.

Towing. When you’re arrested for DUI, your car gets towed away. In some places, retrieving it costs only $100 or so. Some cities are seeing DWI as an opportunity to make some money with steep fees over $1,000.  If you don’t have someone that can come and get the care, it remains in storage with daily fees that hurt!  Towing and Storage Cost: $100-$1,200.

Insurance.  This is the one that will force you to pay over and over again.  Some insurance companies will drop you on the first offense.  If you are lucky, you won’t be dropped and your insurance rates will only double.  In some cases they can triple.  These higher rates will remain in effect for from 3 to 5 years after conviction.  To begin rebuilding your insurance reputation, you have to keep a squeaky clean driving record so no speeding tickets or other traffic citations  for that 3 to 5 year period.

Legal Fees.  Some Attorneys might charge as little as $250 if all you want to do is enter a quick guilty plea and be done with this nightmare. As we described above, with so much at stake, a lot of people accused of DUI hire an Attorney and fight the charge in court. That’s when the cost of a DUI, DWI or Boating While Intoxicated charge start to really add up.  Depending on a lot of factors like, did you hit someone else, were there injuries or death to others, was property damages, etc. the cost can be from $2,500 up to $25,000 or more!

Fines  When convicted you will be fined!  They will cost you between $300 and $1,200 and the cost of fines are on the rise!

Court Ordered Alcohol Evaluation.  Just consider this another fine or fee.  This will cost you about $250.

Basic Alcohol education and treatment. If you’re convicted of an alcohol related crime like DUI or DWI, you will be given a requirement to participate in a court ordered education or treatment program.  These programs are sometimes required in order to get your drivers license again. Treatment can be simple or complex and can vary widely. Cost: $150-$2,000 for basic treatment.

Alcohol-monitoring leg bracelet. Sometimes called Scram devices.  These devices measure the alcohol content in your perspiration, are being ordered more and more in alcohol related cases. Cost: about $100 to install and about $10 per day, or $300 per month.

Drivers License reinstatement fees. Once a driver has demonstrated that he deserves his drivers license back by paying fines, fees and completing court ordered courses and treatment, the state charges to reinstate the drivers license Cost: $95-$250.

Repeat offenders can have a judge order that an ignition lock out system be placed on your cars ignition system to test your breath and prevent the vehicle from starting if you are intoxicated. Cost: $325 and up.

Other Costs Associated with DWI charges:

  1. Life Insurance Premiums can go up
  2. Lost Time and Lost Pay from being away from the job, in court, or class, or jail!
  3. Lose the License and you just might lose your job.  Many jobs require a valid drivers license in order to be employed.
  4. If you have a professional license it may affect your ability to work in your licensed profession.  Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Pilots, etc.
  5. It doesn’t look good on the resume.  A DUI charge follows you around wherever you go!

So How Much Does A DWI charge cost you?

Estimates range from $9,000 to $12,500.  Any way you add it up, a DWI, DUI or Boating While Intoxicated charge is an expensive mistake that can cost much more than just money!.

The biggest thing that you lose when charged with Alcohol related crimes, isn’t money. When you are charged with a DWI, you are labelled a drunk driver and have a stigma you will carry around.  That stigma doesn’t have a financial cost.  It does carry a social and employment cost that is hard to get beyond! Don’t become that drunk driver!  That is why they say driving drunk is a $10,000 dollar ride!

Family Law

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Family Law

 

Comprehensive Divorce Representation

 

Cecil E. Berg, Attorney at Law understands the complex emotional and financial hardships that you will face due to divorce.  As a Lake Livingston/Lake Conroe area law firm focused on family law issues, we are committed to standing with you to help you pursue favorable resolutions to the issues you face relating to Family Law.

Cecil E. Berg Family Law Attorney in Polk, San Jacinto, Walker and Montgomery Counties in Texas

Our Onalaska divorce lawyer, Cecil E. Berg has been practicing law for 15 years but has more than 30 years of valuable business experience. Cecil offers a unique mix of business experience along with a wide range of experience handling family law and divorce issues. His experience allows him to evaluate your situation from every angle to help you determine your best course of action.

 

COMPREHENSIVE DIVORCE REPRESENTATION

 

Cecil Berg is an Onalaska divorce attorney that provides complete and sound representation while at the same time understanding the various issues surrounding your divorce.  During this process Cecil will provide guidance for:

 

  • Property and debt division
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Custody
  • Visitation and access
  • Grandparent Rights
  • Child support
  • Post-decree modifications
  • Temporary orders
  • Emergency orders

 

ALTERNATIVE RESOLUTIONS

 

We understand that divorce may not be the best option for your situation. We can discuss your short-term and long-term needs to help you determine and get the right solutions. Our law firm has extensive experience handling:

 

  • Legal separations
  • Annulments
  • Mediation

 

Free Initial Consultation if you live in the Lake Livingston or Lake Conroe Area.

 

We are available to discuss any issues relating to family law including divorce, child visitation laws, grandparent rights or any other family law related issues.  Cecil Berg is a qualified and experienced family law attorney in the Lake Livingston area in Texas, including Polk, San Jacinto, Walker and Montgomery Counties. Please call us at 936-646-6978 or for your convenience, we also accept e-mail inquiries through our website.

 

DWI

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

DUI/DWI/Boating While Intoxicated

 Cecil E. Berg DWI, DUI, Boating While Intoxicated Attorney Polk San Jacinto Walker and Montgomery Counties in Texas

Whether driving your car or operating your boat, you don’t want to get caught over the limit!  If you do, the Berg Law firm is here ready to help.

 

The penalties for alcohol related charges range from the loss of your driver’s license, probation, alcohol classes, community service, fines, county jail time, or several years of state prison time for repeat offenders.

Cecil E. Berg DUI, DWI, Boating While Intoxicated Attorney serving Polk, San Jacinto, Walker and Montgomery Counties in Texas

The severity of the punishment for alcohol related charges is determined for the most part by a few factors that include:

  • Was a boat or motor vehicle involved?
  • Was anyone injured?
  • Was reckless driving involved
  • How much alcohol was the driver’s system
  • Was there a hit and run?
  • Was there a death resulting from any accident?

 

All of these factors can make an alcohol related case against you much more serious and can cause the penalties to go up.

 

Unfortunately there are quite a few drunk driving defense attorneys that don’t fight these charges aggressively.  They believe that alcohol related charges are cut and dried and there is nothing much that can be done.

 

This is where Cecil Berg is different!  We fight for you to get the charges reduced.  We work to get you a better sentence and in some cases we have been successful in getting entire cases dismissed.

 

We have the experience, the understanding and the resources to finding and getting you a better outcome.  We don’t rest unless we can get a drunk driving charge dismissed or reduced.  We are looking for the best possible outcome for our clients every time!

Criminal Law

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

What exactly is criminal law?  To understand what Criminal Law is, it is important to understand the classification of crimes. Crimes can be classified as either felony or misdemeanor.  As you can imagine, there are big differences between felony and misdemeanor crimes.

 

Basically, the difference between felonies and misdemeanors is the penalty and the amount of jail time you can serve if convicted.

Cecil E, Berg Criminal Law

A misdemeanor is defined as an offense where if convicted, the punishment does not include detention in State Prison or the death penalty.  So obviously a felony can result in State Prison incarceration or death.  One other thing to consider in this discussion, are the degrees of the crime, whether misdemeanor or felony.  The degrees on a felony or misdemeanor refer to the seriousness of a crime based upon standards set by the State, County or local jurisdiction.

 

An example might be robbery, 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree felony depending on bodily injuries sustained during the crime by the victim, the value of the property stolen during the crime or the weapon used during the commission of the crime.

 

Cecil Berg has been fighting and winning Criminal defense cases for 15 years and through those years he has acquired the necessary resources and experience needed to provide his clients a well-planned and sound defense regardless of the charges you are facing.

 

Cecil will fight hard to defend your rights and to get you the best possible results. Superior qualifications, excellent resources, a great reputation and a willingness to do what it takes for you to win are just a few reasons why you should choose Cecil Berg to represent you if charged with a Criminal offense.

 

Anyone who has been through the justice system, whether facing a felony or a misdemeanor, will tell you that nothing is more important than having a great attorney by your side.

 

Why Cecil Berg is different

 

Our goal is to be stand apart from other criminal defense firms, to be different. When facing serious charges, unfortunately many other firms aren’t available when you need them, we are. We are ready to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you are accused of a crime.  If the police are investigating you, we understand that time is of the essence and every moment counts.

 

Our goal is to prevent criminal accusations from becoming formal charges.  Shutting down criminal investigations is our specialty because we move quickly, and we never stop working for you!

 

We know the law and we handle all types of criminal cases: boating while intoxicated, sex crimes, drunk driving (dwi/dui), white collar crimes, robbery, drug crimes, federal crimes, violent crimes, molestation, fraud, embezzlement and more.  We will also represent you for probation violations, and appeals.

 

We believe that your child deserves a second chance if they are a juvenile offender.  If your child has been accused of a juvenile crime and it is a first offense, we will do everything possible to get their life back to normal. Having a great criminal attorney representing your child will make all the difference in the world and we have experience helping kids. No matter what juvenile crime they might be charged with it is important that you speak with us before talking to law enforcement and never try and go to court without an attorney representing you.

 

 

 

Probate

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

What exactly is Probate?

 

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person’s death, where the deceased person’s assets are transferred, whether testate or intestate.  Testate means their assets can be distributed according to their wishes as stated in a Last Will and Testament.  Intestate means they died without a Will and their assets will be distributed according to State Law.

 

The Probate process includes resolving all issues related to personal and real property, taxes, insurance proceeds, paying off creditors for outstanding money owed, title transfers, and others issues which might arise following the death.

Cecil E. Berg Attorney Probate and Wills Polk, San Jacinto, Walker and Montgomery Counties in Texas

Only after someone dies with a Will, can the Probate process begin. Probate is the legal procedure that establishes the last Will and testament and it’s genuineness. Probate is done by “the Surrogate” in the county where the deceased lived at the time of their death.

 

Probate court is what is called a surrogate court where the Will is read and interpreted.  During that process an executor is named and verified as qualified. The Probate process judges the validity of all claims made against the estate.  These claims will come through heirs and beneficiaries, as well as owed taxes and debts.

 

Probate is started by making application in the appropriate form and that application must contain all the specific information required by the Probate judge to make a decision.  Information required includes name, date of death, copy of the last Will, death certificate, where they lived at the time of death, ages of minor children, the names of the testator’s children when the Will was made, and much more.

 

Probate Application

 

Once the Will, the Probate application and death certificate are all properly filed, the Probate Judge will review the papers for irregularities, errors, omissions or objections, and will then admit the Will to Probate.

Cecil E. Berg Attorney Serving Polk, San Jacinto, Walker and Montgomery Counties in Texas

Is Probate required in every case?

 

There are a few reasons why Probate is required and we will discuss them briefly below.  If you determine Probate is required, or advised, you have to go to Probate court to make a claim on the deceased’s assets, or to prove that you are a legal beneficiary.  If any one of the following applies to you, or to the deceased, then it is advised that you consult a Probate attorney.

 

  1. Probate is required if the deceased died intestate which means the deceased died without a Last Will and Testament.  Without a Will defining the deceased wishes, then a Probate court process must be initiated to properly distribute the deceased assets, transfer title of Probate property, and pay off debts and taxes owed.  Probate is the defined process to do this equitably.
  2. If the Will is challenged, or it is determined to be invalid for one of the reasons listed below, Probate is required:
  • Mental Incompetence –This challenge is in play if someone claims the deceased was not mentally competent when they made up the Will.
  • Improper Execution – If the Will wasn’t written clearly or it does not meet the requirements and is determined it is not a legal Will.
  • Undue Influence – If the deceased was under duress or was unduly influenced when the deceased wrote the Will.
  1. If the assets are owned solely by the deceased then Probate is required.   In most cases, during the Probate process, property is transferred out of the deceased’s name and into the beneficiary’s name.
  2. If the deceased person’s assets were owned as a Tenant in Common or a Joint Tenancy, Probate will be required.  This means that if the deceased person owned property jointly with another person, for example if the deceased were involved in a common law marriage, then Probate is required to make sure the deceased’s share of the asset is properly distributed to the legal heirs.
  3. If all the listed beneficiaries have died before the deceased, or if there are no designated beneficiaries, Probate is required.  Assets like retirement funds, savings accounts or life insurance policies, beneficiaries are usually specified, but if all the named beneficiaries have previously passed away or if the deceased didn’t name beneficiaries, then Probate is required to transfer the assets, money or title to the beneficiaries according to State Law.

 

Put simply, Probate is required if there are significant assets that need to be distributed, or if there are creditors that must be paid from the Estate outside of what is stated in the Will, or if there are questionable Wills or if there is no Will at all.   If one or more of these items listed apply to your situation, Probate is required and is the best way to proceed so you’ll have to appear in Probate court.

 

Probate is a complex process

 

The factors that make Probate complex are many and they range from the emotions involved, the logistics required making sure documents are secured and are in order, to filling out and filing the application.  All the factors listed as well as many more can cause difficulties, delays and frustrations throughout the Probate process.

Losing someone is a very emotional and stressful event.  Due to these emotional aspects involved with the death of a loved one, Probate can at times take a while to get started.  Those involved in a Probate are sometimes more concerned with mourning their loss than they are interested in dividing up their assets.

 

There can also be financial difficulties during the Probate process arising from debts owed to the deceased creditors.  Creditors must be dealt with during this time grief so they can be informed and these debts can be settled by the estate

 

Financially there will usually be difficulties during Probate. If the deceased owed any money, creditors need to be informed, so that any debts owed can be settled through the individuals’.  One other consideration if the estate is large enough is inheritance and estate taxes owed.

 

Challenges to Probate

 

Even when the deceased person’s Will clearly states their intentions, the Will can be challenged during the Probate process. The administration of a Probate can be challenged by any interested party. Here is a list of some of the most common challenges that might occur during a Probate process:

 

  • A contested Will can be challenged to determine its validity.
  • The assigned executor or Administrator of the Estate can be challenged to determine their ability to serve in that capacity.
  • A challenge concerning whether or not the executor is administering the estate properly.
  • A challenge to the identity of heirs. DNA tests are costly but may be ordered to identify proper heirs to an estate.

 

How long does Probate take?

 

Usually 6 to 9 months.  Rarely is Probate a cut and dried process.  Every Probate is different so it is hard to answer the question definitively.

 

Delays can occur during the grieving process but there are other factors that can delay the length of time a Probate can take.

 

Any individual filing a claim on the estate of a deceased person must do so within 6 months following the deceased persons passing.  If large parcels of real property were owned by the deceased, the Probate process will be delayed.

 

The deceased person’s personal finances have a bearing on how long a Probate can take as well.  If the deceased person had any creditors then arrangements to identify and pay those debts must be made.  These factors and many more can affect the length of time it takes to go through the Probate process.

 

DIY Probate

 

Yes, it is possible to complete a Probate without the assistance of a qualified Probate Attorney.   We hope we have shown you some of the factors to consider when making the decision to tackle this yourself or to pay a qualified Probate Attorney to assist with this tedious and time consuming process during your time of grief.

 

If you need a qualified and experienced Probate Attorney for Polk, San Jacinto, Walker or Montgomery County, please consider using the services of Cecil E. Berg, Attorney at Law.


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