Estate Planning Attorney

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is something that most of us don’t want to think about. Yet, it’s important. It’s the one legal document that will save your family from a lot of hassle if it’s done right. Estate planning, in-short, is the sum of your belongings that remain after your death. This can be money and property.

Let’s outline what an estate plan entails.

When the event happens, you want to have control over who receives what. Remember that this can be to family and friends but also your favorite organizations. The sky’s the limit on what you can do with your own estate. There’s a logical way of doing things to keep it simple.

Estate Planning Prior to Passing

Make sure you have a solid plan for who will take care of you in case you can’t care for yourself. You’ll want to make sure you have all the details from religious ceremonies to the place you wish to rest. Burial or cremation, who delivers the Eulogy and if it will be religious or not.

Who will be the legal guardian for any minor children?

Make sure you have all the paperwork completed and copies handed to all who need to have it, or at least tell them where to find it after the fact.

If you have special needs relatives, make sure you talk to an estate lawyer so that whatever benefits they’re entitled to continue. You’ll want to be sure that those benefits go to their care and not into the wrong hands.

Life insurance, SSI benefits, disability or any monies collected by you will discontinue or transfer to someone else. Make sure you know what each of those benefits will do. You don’t want to leave important people without or with a fight to handle along with the grief.

Misconceptions of Estate Planning

One of the most common misconceptions about estate planning is that you do this in retirement. We can’t predict when the event will happen, so retirement is too late. Our estate planning should happen early before we create dependents and continue as our lives change.

As we gain property, possessions, and money and as we change the dynamic of our relationships, our estate plan should be tight and right so they say. This makes things seamless for you and the ones you leave behind.

The Stressful Bottom Line

If you don’t have an intentional estate in place the state and courts will handle it in a rather carefree way. They won’t investigate with compassion what you would have done. They’ll assume that if you cared where not only your belongings and money went, but your children, then you would have taken care.

In fact, your spouse and kids may not receive all the benefits you leave behind. It’s nothing to drag our heels about. Talk to an estate lawyer today for your peace of mind tomorrow.

buying a home

Do I Need A Lawyer When I Buy Or Sell A House?

Do I Need A Lawyer To Buy Or Sell A House?
If you are buying or selling a house, do you really need a lawyer? If you’ve done this before, do you really need the extra expense?

There are some individuals for whom buying or selling a house, or any residential property is a “ho-hum” exercise. They’ve done it before and never needed a lawyer so why should they take on an added expense of legal advice? Forms have been standardized and are easily available and customizable to the specifics of the transaction as needed. This standardization can make an entire transaction seem to be standard and run of the mill as long as there are no exceptions or caveats.

Remember, your lawyer is at the closing to protect your interests and investment and make sure that all the documents are in order and have the necessary signatures. When you are at the closing table and documents are being circulated for signatures, you need someone to ensure that you have signed all the proper documentation. There are several situations that could require a legal opinion or input. These are situations that are not that uncommon.

– Are you participating in a short sale? Have all the necessary requirements been met? Is the seller’s mortgage company properly represented?
– Is this a transaction regarding rental property? Have all conditions regarding renters been handled?
– Is a buyer of rental property impacted by any outstanding lease agreements? If so, what are they?
– Is this a “For Sale By Owner” transaction? Again, have all the details been covered?
– Are there any liens on the property – now or in the past? Have they been handled properly?
– Is the title to the property a proper and correct title?
– Are there any issues regarding the property that were noticed at the buyer’s walk-through prior to closing?
– Is the property in the same condition as it was when the purchase offer was made?
– What is the proper course of action if a major issue such as hazardous materials, building defect or zoning irregularity regarding the property is discovered just before closing?
– What happens if the buyer has not brought adequate funds to the closing?
– If this is a transaction for a condominium, have all conditions been met?

These issues probably will not show up at most closings. In fact, at most closings, attorneys and real estate agents are there only to make sure the closing itself goes smoothly. If the title company, any escrow agents and real estate agents for the property involved have done their jobs and there are no surprises, there is usually no need for an attorney.

Yes, it is frustrating to add the cost of legal representation to the costs of buying or selling a property. If the closing goes smoothly without any problems or challenges, there was no need for an attorney to be present. When that happens, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your purchase or sale is complete and correct is well worth the investment in legal advice.

Four More Ways You Can Find Your Dream Vacation Rental

Does the new school year already have a vacation on your mind? You’re in luck! Last month, we discussed four ways to help you find your dream rental. Here are some more tips to keep in mind while searching for your vacation home. And may these happy thoughts help you survive the new school year!

  1. Look at different sites. You may have a favorite site to search for rentals, but it’s never a bad idea to search on different sites in order to find the best deal. Even better is if you know the neighborhood you want to stay in, as location-specific sites often have high-quality listings that many don’t know about.
  2. Avoid areas that are heavy in tourist traffic. The more tourism in the area, the more expensive the place will be. Search for areas near public transit or are a short ride away from popular spots.
  3. Spend your money wisely. While you don’t want to overspend, you also don’t want to be too cheap. Make a list of what you’ll need in a place and what you’d like to have in a place, and then go from there. It’s possible to find a place that is both affordable and enjoyable.
  4. Be cautious. The majority of online listings are legitimate; however, the risk of fraud still exists. Avoid this conflict by contacting the property manager before agreeing to pay for anything. Ask them some questions, acquire all of the info you can gather about the property, and leave the situation if anything seems unusual or doesn’t feel right. There are a lot of sites that offer security measures and reviews, so you’ll get an idea of what you’re working with. When making a purchase, use your credit card since this type of payment has built-in fraud protection.

Four Ways You Can Find Your Dream Vacation Rental, Pt. 1

Whether you’re looking for a beach house or a cabin in the mountains, there are so many different types of vacation rentals to choose from. Now that we are in the age of people preferring rentals over hotels, it’s possible to also save money while looking for your great escape. Here are some tips to keep in mind while searching for your vacation home.

  1. Have an idea as to what you want. Ask yourself some questions when thinking about a vacation rental. Questions such as – “Do I want to lounge around or stay busy?” “Am I bringing children along? If so, how many?” “Do I want an ocean or mountain view?” Knowing what you’re looking for will help narrow down the many choices available to you. If you’re going with a group, consult with them so everyone gets something they’re wanting out of the rental.
  2. Stay ahead of the rest. In order to grab your dream rental home before the rest, you’ll want to book it as early as possible. It is suggested to book one year in advance, if possible unless you’re headed to areas like Florida or Arizona, where the destination is considered popular. Those areas usually have plenty of rentals to choose from, so it’s possible you could book last minute and still see a price reduction.
  3. Keep your dates flexible. If you’re traveling to Europe during summer, prices are going to be rather high and competition for rentals will be fierce. If you move your vacation to spring or fall, however, you’re more likely to find better prices and availability. Same could also be said on locations here in the US. Thankfully, many booking sites have fare charts that allow users to track rates over time. If you reserve in the last week of an offseason, you may just save hundreds on the rental.
  4. Know rental terms. Know the difference between beachfront and oceanfront, direct ski access and ski-in/ski-out, and what all is included in a garden view. Ask for photos of the property if there aren’t any included online and ask questions about any terms you aren’t sure about.
basketball goal

What You Can’t Take With You Once You Sell Your Home

It’s possible for the drama to occur if you take something from your home once you sell it without talking to the buyer first. It could affect the sale; it could also result in a lawsuit against you. Here are some guidelines as to what can’t go with you once you sell your home.

  1. Anything nailed, bolted, or mounted. Things such as built-in furniture, fences, and storage sheds should stay behind. As for AC units, if it is placed in a window, you can take it with you. But, if the house has been modified for something, it should stay since it is technically a fixture. However, if you insist on taking it with you, be upfront and tell the buyer as soon as possible.
  2. We’re not talking about house plants, of course, but the ones outside. There may be an exception if the plant was a special gift, but most will not allow you to dig up plants or trees since they are a part of the property.
  3. Light fixtures. Don’t be tempted to take light fixtures with you, as you will be leaving behind a bunch of wires hanging from the ceiling. The buyer is purchasing what they saw the day they viewed the property; if the seller tries to change something after that day, it is illegal. If there is a light fixture you simply can’t part with, take it out of the home before the potential buyer visits.
  4. Window treatments. Even if they’re custom blinds, they should stay. Curtains are considered personal property because they easily slide off rods. Rods and blinds, however, are attached to the house and are considered a part of it. Same applies to mirrors – if they are hung on the wall, they are personal property; bolted ones should stay.
  5. Items anchored in the ground. If a basketball hoop is cemented into the ground, it is to be sold along with the house; the same goes for swing sets.

Tips on How to Sell Your Home During Summertime

Selling a home during the summer is a bit different than selling during the rest of the year. However, there are some small steps you can take that will make a big difference and will hopefully help you nail the sale before the season is over.

  1. Don’t take a short cut with the electric bill. Have your AC unit serviced and clean your ceiling fans before showing your home in the summer. It may even be a good idea to keep your home’s temperature cooler than what it usually is. You’ll want potential buyers and their agents to stay in the property rather than rush through it due to it being too hot inside.
  2. Keep some water on hand. It’s easy to work up a sweat touring a home, especially if it has more than one level. A nice gesture is to leave some bottles of water on the counter in a bucket or bowl of ice. You could even take it a step further and make a pitcher of sweet tea or lemonade, both would certainly make a great impression on potential buyers!
  3. Maintain the yard. Weeds can pop up very quickly during summertime, so make sure the hedges are trimmed and the grass is cut. If you want to enhance curb appeal, try adding some flower pots or hanging baskets. Keep the lawn watered and the sidewalk swept. Make sure there are no limbs or bushes blocking the views of the windows. Sweep patio and balcony areas, and feel free to update any patio furniture with a fresh coat of paint or new pillows. If you have a pool, make sure it is clean.
  4. Don’t turn off the lights. Even on the brightest of sunny summer days, you’ll want to leave the lights on while your house is being shown. This includes lights in the closets and appliances.
  5. Show off some of your yard work. If you have flowers in your yard, a nice way to add some elegance to the home is by cutting some and placing in vases around the home. It gives a house that “home-like” feeling many buyers are searching for.
sell your home

The Best Secrets That Will Help You Sell Your Home, Pt. 1

Did you know that there are quick ways to sell your home? Here are five of the best-kept secrets when it comes to selling your home.


  1. Adjusting the price. Once you determine how much your home is worth, take off about 15-20% off of the price. Buyers will come in with multiple bids and bid up to the price way over what it is worth.
  2. Empty the closets. Remove half the stuff from your closets then organize what is left. Keep closets and storage spaces neat and tidy, as buyers will more than likely take a peek and see what they have to offer.
  3. Brighten the environment. Good lighting is crucial in selling your home to a potential buyer. Take down your drapes, clean your windows, switch out lampshades, increase the wattage of light bulbs, and cut the bushes outside to let the sunshine in. Make your house bright and cheery to the buyer’s eyes.
  4. Hire the right broker for you. Make sure the man or woman hired for the job is fully informed – they must monitor the multiple listing service, know which properties are available on the market, and know about the competition in your neighborhood. It doesn’t hurt to have a broker who is tech savvy and has access to different tools that can help get your home sold.
  5. Keep your pets away. Not everyone is a fan of dogs and/or cats. Remove pet food and bedding, as well as litter boxes and toys, from your home before showing to a potential buyer. Send pets to a border or friend or family member while the house is being shown.
moving out

Moving for a Job

There are so many people in the world today who have moved for a job, whether with a new company or for a new position/task. If you’re willing to relocate but are unsure as to whether it is the right move for you, here are some tips to consider before it’s time to make your final decision.

  1. The company may cover moving expenses. The IRS is no longer deducting moving expenses for a job (this is to last from 2018-2025). However, private industries appear to be doing well and many are now offering to pay moving costs for employees that have to relocate. Many businesses, both small and large, have relocation reimbursement policies…some firms even change their policies on a frequent basis for competition. The amount you’re offered for moving will depend upon your role in the company, how much the move will cost, and the amount you have requested from them. Currently, it is cheaper to relocate a renter rather than a homeowner.
  2. Renting may be the best choice for now. Buying a home is a lengthy process and your company will most likely not have time to wait around for the task to be completed. Rent could help you save money in a new town or city. If you were previously a homeowner, a history of mortgage payments could help you get a great deal. The landlord may also be willing to negotiate a lower monthly price, a reduced deposit, or a shorter lease term, as renting has declined from previous years. Maybe you could talk to him or her into letting the first month be free!
  3. Stay flexible. Most companies give employees and/or prospective candidates two weeks to accept or turn down an offer with four weeks to fully relocate. It can be stressful trying to not only pack up for the move and prepare for this new chapter but to also list your current home for sale. Talk to a realtor about alternatives in regards to how you can sell your home as quickly as possible.

How to Choose the Best Offer on Your Home

Once your home is on the market, offers will start to come in. Depending on what you’re selling, offers may take some time or come in at a rapid pace. When faced with the choice of choosing which offer is best, there is no need to be overwhelmed. Here are some tips to help you select the offer that best suits your needs.

  1. Take time to comprehend the process. Keep in mind that an offer is negotiable, so you have the option to accept it, reject it, or ask for modifications (known as a counteroffer).
  2. Create your standard. Determine ahead of time which terms are top priority for you and let this guide your decision. If price is the most important aspect to you, you may need to be flexible with the closing date. If you’re worried as to whether the buyer will be able to get a mortgage or not, you may want to ask for a prequalified or cash buyer.
  3. Make a review process. If you’re certain your home will receive several offers, talk to you agent about creating a time frame for the offers to come in. This will give the agent time to market the home to as many buyers as possible. It also gives you time to review each offer as they come in.
  4. Don’t let personal feelings get in the way. Treat this as a business transaction; that’s what this is after all. If someone doesn’t like the kitchen or a room you have remodeled and have therefore offered a lower amount, don’t take it to heart. It’s still a good sign that the buyer is interested, even if your style isn’t their preference. Remember to negotiate.
  5. Go over each term. Is the buyer asking for appliances or other property to be included in the sale? Is the earnest money sufficient? Have they been preapproved for financing? Is there another contingency involved? Read over all terms so you know what you’re getting into with each offer. If something is a deal breaker, you may need to walk away and move on to the next best offer.
  6. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Find out what is most important to the buyer and see what you can do to meet their needs so you receive the best offer.