I did not start out as an estate planning attorney. Around 30 years ago, when I was practicing in the corporate section of Butler & Binion, a once major law firm in downtown Houston, I was recruited to join the firm’s trust and estate section to assist business owners with their succession plans. The experience totally changed my understanding of the practice of law. I soon found that, as an estate planning attorney, I had a direct impact on how family members would relate to each other after a loved one becomes disabled or passes away. I loved the idea of being a family counselor, as well as an architect of an estate plan designed to protect assets and save money.
I left Butler & Binion in 1994 and joined with Tammy Manning in 1997 to form the law firm, Galligan & Manning. During the early years of Galligan & Manning, in addition to advising clients on estate planning matters, I worked with Tammy to help the firm’s probate litigation clients find resolutions to the conflicts that often plague families after the death of a loved one.
One of the phrases I hear the most during an estate planning consultation is, “I just want everyone to get along after I’m gone.” I have seen the triggers that can ignite a family conflict and result in heart wrenching and expensive litigation. This has helped me in my estate planning practice to show clients ways that conflict can be avoided or minimized after a loved one dies.
Whether it is working with a blended family, or with parents who want to protect their children from creditors or from losing their inheritance in a failed marriage, my greatest satisfaction comes when I hear a client say “I didn’t know that was possible” or “I feel so empowered knowing that I can take steps now to keep peace in the future.”
Many people think of estate planning as just focusing on an efficient transfer of assets from one generation to another, but to what end? I believe that my clients have as their purpose, not just the transfer of assets, but the desire to leave a legacy of love and family harmony.
I am Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law and a member of the Texas Academy of Probate and Trust Lawyers. From 1990 through 1997, I served on the Texas State Bar Sub-Committee on the Texas Power of Attorney Act legislation and recently completed a six year term as a member of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Advisory Committee. From 2007 through 2010, I was an adjunct professor at South Texas College of Law where I taught a course on counseling the estate planning client.
I graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1985, where I served on the Houston Law Review. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1975 and a certificate in French language studies from L’Alliance Fran√ßaise in Paris, France in 1976.
I enjoy splitting my time between Houston and my home in New Braunfels, Texas.