Avoiding Future Real Estate Blunders (Do the C.O. and Pay Liens Yourself)

I have written before about Probate pitfalls and horror stories (stock certificates and EE Bonds being the items I loathe the most). Let’s talk about another item of property that makes some Executors cringe and beneficiaries moan: When an estate (and estate attorney) neglects properly handling Real Estate. Many of us know the emotional roller coaster ride of buying and selling a house – offers, counter offers, mortgage heartburn, moving, last second surprises (continue any possible stressful occurence ad infinitum). Now imagine a third-party (an Executor / Administrator / Trustee) having to figure these out and paying for attorney’s assistance out of your estate’s assets or, worse, initially out of their own pocket. It is at this point our story begins: I

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Who Owns Your Money?: Correct Asset Titling Means Everything

“Titling” boils down to current and future ownership: An account with only your name on it means you own the account. Adding other individuals to the title determines who else has access to your accounts while you are alive, and what happens to those assets when you pass away. Titling your assets correctly can have a huge impact on taxes, transfer costs, and legal fees when unfortunate events happen to you. Owning an account jointly allows multiple parties to have full access to assets in the account. One critical caveat, which has led to a shocking number of legal disputes, is whether the account is created as Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship, or merely a “Convenience Account.” The former

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GUEST BLOG – Chet Davis: How Home Buyers Can Obtain the Best Home Mortgage

Obtaining a home mortgage is one of the most substantial financial transactions that most families will ever negotiate.  The mortgage loan process can take 60-90 days from the signing of a Contract of Sale on a purchase through closing.  The loan application and related paperwork can be hopelessly confusing.  So, how do you obtain the expertise for the one, two or maybe three times in your life that you’ll buy or refinance your home?  Options for finding a mortgage include: Calling your local retail bank Going on a website like Bankrate.com or www.lendingtree.com Asking friends and family for recommendations Consulting with a residential mortgage banker Regardless of your approach, every home buyer needs to know the following before looking for

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Handling the Empty Nest: Securing the Recently Departed Loved One’s House

When a person passes away there are several matters to take care of, the FIRST of which is securing the premises. One of my biggest concerns is the possible “Dash and Grab” that dishonest (needy?) family members perform when they hear of the recently departed family member and run to strip the house of assets with financial or sentimental value. And, as much as I hate to use stale idioms, “Possession IS 9/10ths of the law.” Here are steps you can take to secure a family member’s personal belongings upon their passing: CHANGE THE LOCKS: If the house was owned by the decedent, consider doing this to protect the property inside. CANCEL CREDIT CARDS / FREEZE BANK ACCOUNTS: Supplying a

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How to (and Should I?) Place My Cooperative Apartment in a Trust

Buying (and living in) a Coop can be a pain: Coop Boards dictate whether you can have pets, children tenants, hard wood floors, and when you pay increased maintenance and “special assessments.” They also decide whether or not you can place your Coop “In Trust,” thereby avoiding it passing through Probate via your Will when you pass away. First, the Coop’s legal counsel will want to review your Trust, often for about the cost you paid to draft it. They may require modifications and ask your beneficiaries to assume any future liabilities that may be assessed. You will then need to transfer the Coop shares for an additional cost, and produce your original Shares Certificate and Proprietary Lease (or otherwise

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