Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What the Heck is a Tontine?

I love vocabulary words, so I subscribe to Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day.

May 26th's M-W Word of the Day was "tontine," which is defined as "a joint financial arrangement whereby the participants usually contribute equally to a prize that is awarded entirely to the participant who survives all the others."

When I read that definition, I couldn't help but think of The Simpsons' episode in which it was revealed that Abraham "Grampa" Simpson was part of a tontine arrangement with the other members of his World War II military squad, the Flying Hellfish.  Under the terms of the Flying Hellfish's tontine, the last surviving member would inherit all of the valuable paintings found by the squad during the war.  Grampa Simpson and Montgomery Burns were the last two surviving Flying Hellfish, so Mr. Burns ordered Grampa's assassination.

The M-W Word of the Day entry says that tontines have been banned because, as with Mr. Burns, "there was just too much temptation for unscrupulous investors to bump off their fellow subscribers."

Reading that assertion got me wondering if Texas has any laws against tontines.  Well, I have some bad news for the Flying Hellfish.  I was able to find at least one such provision.  Section 3.122 of Title 28 (Insurance) of the Texas Administrative Code provides as follows:

"Any life insurance policy which is a tontine policy or which contains a tontine provision will be disapproved. Provisions by which dividends during the participating period are not allocated or paid annually are prohibited as being within the tontine principle unless the policyholder acquires, on termination of the policy, a vested interest in the dividends which have accrued."

Friday, May 17, 2013

5th Annual TECH Fort Worth IMPACT Awards

Earlier this week I attended the 5th Annual TECH Fort Worth IMPACT Awards.  TECH Fort Worth is a Fort Worth based incubator and accelerator for inventors and entrepreneurs starting up the next great companies of North Texas.  Among other things, TECH Fort Worth helped establish the Cowtown Angels, an organization of local angel investors.  

As usual, Darlene Ryan, the Executive Director of TECH Fort Worth, and the rest of her team put on a terrific event.  The IMPACT Awards celebrate start-up and early stage North Texas companies who are hoping to impact people's lives in a positive way.  Three finalists for IMPACT Awards were chosen in three categories: (1) Energy and Environment, (2) Community, and (3) Health.  All of the finalists are (or hope to soon be) doing some pretty amazing things.  I was lucky enough to be seated at the same table as representatives of the winner of the Health category, Applied Regenerative Technologies (ART).  ART is developing a nerve implant design for restoring nerve function to nerves damaged by trauma.

Congratulations to ART and to all of the finalists!  The IMPACT Awards and the entrepreneurial spirit they celebrate are always an inspiration to me.          

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Little Known Facts: Oldest Firm in Fort Worth

One of the neatest things about practicing law at Cantey Hanger LLP is our firm's history. The firm was founded by William Capps and Samuel Benton Cantey in 1882, making it the oldest law firm in Tarrant County and among the oldest law firms in the State of Texas.  The firm has at least one client that it has represented for over 100 years.

But Cantey Hanger is not the oldest business in Tarrant County.  According to the Fort Worth Business Press, Cantey Hanger ranks as the 5th oldest business in Tarrant County. The distinction as the county's oldest business belongs to Pendery's World of Chiles & Spices, which was founded in 1870.  Or should I say that Pendery's is Tarrant County's most seasoned firm?