KMD Law | Areas of Practice

Estate Planning

Kearney, McWilliams & Davis, PLLC offers comprehensive estate planning services to protect your future. Proper estate planning is a process, not a transaction. It involves identifying your values, goals, and vision for your future and that of your loved ones. Because no two clients have identical values, goals, and vision, each estate plan is a unique creation of the client, assisted by their estate planning attorney, along with their CPA, financial advisor, and possibly others.


Unlike traditional estate planning, comprehensive estate planning ensures you and your family are taken care of, taxes & fees are minimized and your affairs are kept private. Our primary objective is providing you with peace of mind that your legacy will enhance the lives of your beneficiaries, rather than creating problems for them. Our experienced estate planning attorneys at KMD Law are here to help guide you through the process and plan for your specific needs. Call us today to discuss your options.

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Estate Planning

Asset Protection

Asset protection is a crucial part of any estate plan, especially for business owners, those with multiple properties, and others who have earned a number of assets. While no one likes to think that misfortune—such as bankruptcy, divorce, or a lawsuit—can affect them, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to safeguarding your business and your estate.


The asset protection attorneys at Kearney, McWilliams & Davis, PLLC can help you create a solid asset protection plan. We understand that every situation is unique, which is why we employ a personal approach to each case. Our team takes an in-depth look at your particular circumstances and helps you devise a plan that’s tailored to your needs and goals.


There are a number of different issues involved in asset protection, as well as a number of different strategies you can employ to protect your business, property, wealth, and other assets. Our firm can help you evaluate your options and examine various asset protection strategies, including:


  • Converting assets into exempt assets under Texas law
  • Limiting liability through Corporation, Limited Partnership, or LLC formation
  • Transferring risk through appropriate and adequate insurance
  • Transfer your home to a beneficiary through a ladybird deed
  • Placing real property into appropriate business entities/trusts
  • Separating assets (particularly real property) into multiple entities
  • Managing assets through the use of retirement accounts
  • Utilizing homestead exemptions available under Texas law


This list is by no means exhaustive and it is always best to discuss your unique options with an experienced asset protection attorney. The right asset protection plan for you will depend on the various factors involved in your estate, including the amount and type of assets you have. Our firm offers individualized services and honest, one-on-one legal counsel. The estate planning and asset protection lawyers at KMD can help you navigate the process from start to finish.

Estate Planning

Estate Adminstration

When an individual creates an estate plan, he or she selects an administrator or executor of the estate. If an estate has no appointed administrator or executor, the court will select one. Upon the estate owner’s death, the administrator or executor is responsible for handling the estate, including ensuring that the terms of any wills or trusts are carried out, debts are paid, and heirs and beneficiaries are informed that estate administration has begun.


If a person dies without a will, his or her estate is handled by an administrator. If the deceased did have a will, the person who handles the estate is known as the executor. Whether or not the deceased had a will, there are numerous steps involved in properly handling the estate. Although some states, including Texas, have what is known as “independent administration,” meaning estate administration does not need to be completed under court supervision, it is wise to consult with an attorney if you are the administrator or executor of an estate. There are a number of responsibilities involved, and it is important that you follow the necessary steps to ensure that the deceased’s estate is properly handled. The responsibilities of an administrator/executor can include:


  • Collecting the deceased’s assets
  • Resolving any debts or claims against the estate
  • Paying all taxes on assets of the estate
  • Distributing assets to heirs and/or beneficiaries
  • Going through the probate process


If the owner of the estate died without a will, the administrator often needs to petition the court to verify heirs (depending on state law). It is important to remember that the estate administrator or executor is not only representing his or her own interests—the administrator is also responsible for the interests of heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, and any others who may have a claim to the estate. The estate planning and asset protection lawyers at KMD are here to help navigate the estate administration process from start to finish.

Estate Planning

Estate Litigation

In some states, including Texas, all estates must go through probate as part of the estate administration process, with few exceptions. During this process, there are numerous issues that may arise and which may require litigation. If you wish to contest or dispute any aspect of estate administration, including the terms or conditions of a will or trust, contact the experienced estate litigation lawyers at Kearney, McWilliams & Davis, PLLC. We are highly skilled at navigating a variety of complicated matters and can help you work to protect your interests.


Estate administration is rarely a simple process. Though not always contentious, the process can often lead to interested or concerned parties disputing or questioning certain aspects of the estate plan. Common examples of issues that are typically resolved through estate litigation include:


  • Lack of Capacity: An interested party may raise concerns if he or she believes that the deceased was not mentally or legally capable of making decisions at the time the will or related document was signed.
  • Undue Influence: This issue can arise if an interested party believes that someone else, such as a caregiver or family member, coerced or forced the estate owner to sign estate documents, including a will.
  • Accounting Demands: During the 15 months following the start of independent estate administration, all interested parties can request estate asset accountings from the executor. If accountings are not provided within 60 days, litigation may be necessary.
  • Multiple and/or Conflicting Wills: In certain cases, several family members, heirs, or interested parties may produce what they claim to be the official, most recent will. In such cases, estate litigation is usually needed to clarify the valid will and resolve fraud and/or forgery issues.
  • Determining Heirs: Sometimes, there are disputes regarding heirs to an estate. Other times, heirs may not be easily identified or located. In such instances, estate litigation can resolve questions regarding heirs.
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty: If an interested party believes that the estate administrator or executor is solely acting in his or her own best interests and forgoing the interests of other involved parties or mismanaging the estate, litigation may be necessary.
  • Removal of an Estate Administrator/Executor: If an estate administrator or executor is not capable or willing to properly handle an estate, he or she may be removed and replaced. This typically involves estate litigation.


These are just some examples of when estate litigation may be needed to resolve estate and probate-related issues. There are many other instances in which litigation may be the only way to resolve disputes, address concerns, or verify details of an estate. Navigating the process of estate administration or probate can be incredibly complicated. At KMD, we have extensive experience handling all types of highly complex cases. Our estate planning firm can help you clearly understand your legal options and work toward a swift resolution.

Estate Planning

Power of Attorney

The power of attorney is granted by an individual (the principal) to another person (the agent) and allows the agent to make certain decisions on behalf of the principal. Durable powers of attorney, which do not end when the principal becomes incapacitated, allows you to prepare for the possibility that you may become unable to care for yourself in some way. Our firm can help you understand your options and devise a plan tailored to your situation and needs. Though it is not required that you use a lawyer to draft powers of attorney, having an experienced estate planning attorney assist you throughout the process can help you ensure that your interests are protected.


There are different types of powers of attorney, and the responsibilities of an agent can range from medical to financial in nature. The most common types of powers of attorney include:


  • General Power of Attorney: Grants authority in regard to financial and related matters, including real estate transactions, investments, personal banking, and more.
  • Healthcare/Medical Power of Attorney: Allows the agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal in the event that he or she is incapacitated or cannot make these decisions.
  • Special Power of Attorney: Restricts the authority of the agent by precisely defining his or her abilities; typically used for single real estate transactions and other similar matters.


Any of these types of powers of attorney can be made durable—all this means is that the agent will continue to have authority in the event that you are mentally incapacitated at the time the power of attorney was initially meant to expire. Furthermore, there are other options aside from those listed here—such as springing durable power of attorney, which delays the agent’s authority and statutory durable power of attorney, which allows for a broad scope of authority. It is also possible to draft multiple powers of attorney. Our team at KMD can help you determine the best course of action for your unique situation.

Estate Planning


Almost all estates must go through probate before they can be officially settled. The primary purpose of probate is to prevent fraud by verifying rightful heirs and designated beneficiaries, as well as validating the will if one exists. Probate can become complicated when large estates are involved or when there are special circumstances.


If you are the administrator or executor of an estate, an heir, or another interested party, it can be very beneficial to discuss your situation with an experienced probate attorney. The probate process requires an in-depth knowledge of applicable state laws and may even lead to estate litigation. Having a seasoned attorney on your side can help you navigate the process and handle any unexpected issues that arise.

Estate Planning

Special Needs Planning

Many general estate plans fail to take into account special needs planning. This is crucial, however, if your child, parent, or other loved one has special needs. Special needs planning protects assets for your loved one’s benefit without affecting his or her access to government benefits, such as Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Without proper planning, assets left to those with special needs may disqualify them for these and other benefits.


Kearney, McWilliams & Davis can help you devise a solid special needs plan that protects your children, aging family members, and other loved ones. We provide productive and efficient legal counsel that is personalized to your situation. Our special needs planning lawyers have extensive experience in all aspects of estate planning and related matters.


Special needs planning is a way to protect individuals with mental or physical disabilities from losing SSI or SSDI benefits while still retaining access to assets in an estate plan. It is also a way to ensure that assets are properly managed when the beneficiary is not able to manage them on his or her own. If your child has special needs, you will likely want to plan for the possibility that you may eventually no longer be able to care for him or her. This is also true for those who serve as caretakers for a special needs parent, family member or loved one. Our firm can assist you with various aspects of special needs planning, including but not limited to:



While some parents and caretakers decide to leave nothing to the special needs children or family members in their care, assuming that government benefits will be enough to cover expenses, this is not a wise choice. Typically, government benefits only cover the minimum, such as food and housing, leaving the special needs individual without the resources he or she needs to live a full life.


Special Needs Trusts

Special needs trusts are designed to allow parents and caretakers to leave assets to individuals with special needs while also maintaining their eligibility for government benefits. There are certain requirements with special needs trusts, namely that the assets in question will supplement the disabled individual’s needs, rather than replace government benefits entirely. Special needs trusts can be used to help an individual with a disability:


  • Receive medical care, including annual physicals
  • Obtain educational services, such as tutoring
  • Attend school, church, and other activities
  • Pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as dentistry
  • Receive transportation and/or maintain a vehicle
  • Go on vacation, purchase supplies for a hobby, and other life-quality enhancing expenses
  • Adhere to special dietary guidelines
  • Gain access to in-home care or a personal care aide


This list is not comprehensive; a special needs trust can be used to supplement many activities or items that provide the trustee with a better quality of life. Our special needs planning attorneys at Kearney, McWilliams & Davis can help you find a personalized solution that fits your unique needs.

Estate Planning

Tax Planning

Tax planning is crucial for those who wish to take a proactive approach to protect their interests. At Kearney, McWilliams & Davis, PLLC, our tax practice assists individuals and corporate clients in addressing tax-related issues by developing proven and practical strategies. Our focus on proactive planning, coupled with our commitment to providing each client with a high level of service over the life of their business and beyond, sets us apart as much more than just a law firm. As laws, regulations, and circumstances change, we can help you navigate the changing times and fight for your rights and interests when they are threatened.


We counsel on international, federal, and state tax issues that arise in general business operations and commercial real estate and business transactions. Our tax attorneys create tax-efficient structures and provide innovative, practical solutions to the tax issues that challenge our clients. In addition, we provide a wide array of specialized advisory and strategic services for our clients, including but not limited to:


  • Retirement plans (401k, defined benefit/cash balance, ESOP)
  • Retained earnings issues
  • Buy-sell agreements
  • Series LLCs
  • Conversions
  • Executive compensation
  • IC DISCs
  • Employment tax
  • Incentive-based compensation
  • Non-qualified benefits (cafeteria, MERP, VEBA, deferred comp)
  • Options
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • 831b small business insurance captives
  • 482 transfer pricing issues
  • Employee benefits (Health Insurance)
  • IT credits
  • Exit strategies
  • Asset protection planning
  • Compliance with the Affordable Care Act for individuals and companies


No matter your tax planning needs, our firm can assist you. We provide honest and efficient counsel and dedicated legal guidance to meet the needs of each individual client. In addition, KMD Law remains consistently available, answering our client’s questions and addressing concerns from start to finish.

Estate Planning


If you’d like to help your heirs and beneficiaries avoid probate, you should consider establishing a revocable living trust. Living trusts allow you to retain control over and benefit from your assets and property while you are alive while also naming a successor trustee who will handle the trust upon your passing, as well as beneficiaries who will benefit from the assets controlled by the trust. Typically, assets placed in a trust are not subject to probate. A trust can also allow you a greater level of control over how assets are distributed. Trusts are particularly beneficial for individuals with large estates or those that own businesses, commercial real estate, and other considerable assets.


There are several benefits to placing assets into a living trust. Arguably the most important aspect of a trust is that it allows you to denote how your assets will pass in a very specific way. For instance, if you wish to ensure that your children from a previous marriage receive an inheritance, or wish to provide for a special needs relative, a trust can accomplish this. A trust can also be useful if you want to leave assets to an heir, but you want to ensure that these assets are properly managed. These are just a few examples of why you might choose to draft a revocable living trust. Other advantages offered by trusts include that they allow you to:


  • Maintain privacy, as trusts are not available to the public
  • Avoid future costs by handling legal expenses up front
  • Include powers of attorney
  • Control who has authority over your assets, both in the present and the future


While revocable living trusts can be changed so long as you are able to do so, they are no longer flexible once they pass on to the successor trustee. Furthermore, trusts must be consistently maintained over time. If you purchase a new home, for example, you must update the trust and re-title your assets to ensure that they are properly transferred through the trust.


Every situation is unique. Speaking with an experienced trust attorney can help you determine the best course of action. At KMD, we offer a personal approach that is tailored to your particular goals from start to finish.

Estate Planning


Perhaps the most basic and essential element of any estate plan is a last will and testament. Wills are important documents that denote how your assets and property will be transferred to your heirs and other beneficiaries. Although the state of Texas has put into place laws meant to simplify the estate planning and administration process, including laws related to drafting and formalizing wills, it is still wise to consult with an experienced will lawyer who can help you ensure that your will is created properly and that your assets are protected. This is particularly true if you have a complex situation and you think your will may be contested.


At KMD, we take into account your goals, values, and vision for the future. We understand how important it is that your assets are protected and that your loved ones are cared for. Our will attorneys can assist you with:


  • Determining if you should set up a will or trust
  • Drafting your will
  • Creating a “self-proving” will
  • Managing sizeable assets and/or real property
  • Naming an executor
  • Minimizing taxes, legal fees, court costs, and other expenses
  • Ensuring your will is legally sound
  • Handling complex issues, such as disinheriting a spouse, multiple businesses, and more.

Additionally, estate planning & will attorneys regularly assist clients with considerable assets, those with multiple children from previous marriages/partnerships, small business owners, and individuals with complicated or unusual situations. We are able to help you with everything from drafting a will to correctly submitting all required forms to signing the document. KMD attorneys are here to help navigate creating a will from start to finish.

Estate Planning


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