FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Do I need an attorney to buy or sell real estate?
  • How do I purchase an existing business?
  • How can a lawyer help me start and run my business?
  • Is a limited liability company better than a corporation?
  • Do I need a lawyer to appear in court?
  • Do I need an estate plan if I’m not extremely wealthy?
  • Do I need a trust, or is a simple will enough?
  • A family member passed away.  What do I need to do?
  • Do I need an attorney to buy or sell real estate?

    Very often people ask us whether or not they need an attorney to represent them in a real estate transaction.  Now so more than ever, people are being told by real estate agents, title insurers, loan officers, mortgage brokers and others that “you don’t need a lawyer” to buy or sell property or that “the title company will take care of everything”.  So that you aren’t misled by this “advice”, we offer the following:

    Top 10 Reasons You Don’t Need an Attorney in a Real Estate Transaction:

    10. You know all of the rights that the law provides to buyers and sellers.

    9.   You are familiar with all the terms of a real estate contract and the required disclosures.

    8.   You know how to read and interpret the results of a title search or commitment for title insurance and obtain waivers, releases and other documentation needed to remove clouds from title.

    7.   You are familiar with all of the legal documents necessary to close your deal (the appropriate Deed, a Bill of Sale, an Affidavit of Title, and a Transfer Declaration, just to name a few) and you can calculate all applicable prorations and credits in order to produce a final accurate closing statement.

    6.   You are confident that your real estate agent or banker are only looking out for your best interests, without any concern about the commissions or fees that will be made on your transaction.

    5.   You know how to resolve all funding issues and assure that all mortgages, encumbrances, judgments and tax liens are paid off before closing or out of the closing funds.

    4.   You know how and when to order a home inspection, radon test, termite inspection, environmental assessment and a survey, what to look for in these reports, and can resolve any problems that may be present within a limited amount of time prior to closing.

    3.   You know how to interpret surveys and legal descriptions of property and make sure they are accurate (the legal description is the official “definition” of the property you are selling or buying).

    2.   You know what to do if a party files bankruptcy, has gotten divorced, is being sued, has not waived the Homestead Act exemption, or if there is a possession problem prior to closing.

    And the #1 reason you don’t need an attorney in real estate transactions …

    1.   You are aware that your home is likely the largest investment you will ever make and confident that you can avoid any and all pitfalls that may occur in the transaction (while also handling all the details of packing & moving and/or securing financing) without the assistance of and guidance from experienced legal counsel.

    The bottom line is that it just makes good $ense to have your attorney represent you in all real estate matters.

    • How do I purchase an existing business?

    Once you have identified a business to purchase, your hard work has just begun.  Your business lawyer can help you decide if you should buy the entire business entity or simply the assets and goodwill of the business.  The next step is the preparation of a contract for purchase with appropriate due diligence provisions and contingencies that are vital in protecting you as the buyer.  When your lawyer is confident that all of the contingencies have been met, the final step is the closing of the purchase.

    • How can a lawyer help me start and run my business?

    A lawyer who practices in the area of business law can help you decide what legal entity is right for your new business.  We can advise you regarding the tax ramifications of your decision, prepare the proper paperwork for the formation of that entity, and work with you to secure trustworthy accountants, insurance agents and other professionals to address the needs of your business.

    • Is a limited liability company better than a corporation?

    Limited liability companies have become very popular in recent years.  If properly formed and maintained, a limited liability company can be taxed as a corporation, partnership or individual while providing the liability protection of a corporation.  However, the limited liability company may not be appropriate for every situation.  Check with us to determine what entity would be best suited for your new business venture.

    • Do I need a lawyer to appear in court?

    An individual can legally represent himself or herself in court without a lawyer.  To properly represent his or her interest, a review of the appropriate rules of civil procedure and law with respect to the legal matter itself must be considered.  In some instances, it may be prudent to handle a small claims matter without a lawyer.  However, it is advisable to obtain the knowledge and experience of a skilled attorney to represent your interest in most litigation matters.

    • Do I need an estate plan if I’m not extremely wealthy?

    Wealth preservation is only one of the many goals of estate planning.  A well devised estate plan handles much more than selecting the amount of property you wish to transfer to your intended beneficiary.  By providing written instructions regarding the disposition of your property at death, you avoid the statutory rules of descent and distribution, which direct the distribution of property when an individual dies without a will or trust.  In addition, the only means of nominating a guardian for minor children is to make such designation in a properly executed will.  Without making such a designation, the court, and not you, will decide who will take care of your minor children.  Finally, an estate plan allows you to control the disposition and maintenance of your property if you become disabled; avoiding the need for the appointment of a guardian should you become disabled.  An estate plan grants to you the ability to control the disposition of your property, both during your lifetime and at death, allowing you to provide for your loved ones and you as you see fit.

    • Do I need a trust, or is a simple will enough?

    Because every person’s needs and desires are unique, there really is no such thing as a “simple will.”  How complex your estate plan becomes depends on your financial status, your family situation, and the specific goals you wish to accomplish through your overall estate plan.  In order to make such a decision, it is important for you to examine your circumstances with knowledgeable estate planning counsel.  Our objective is to work with you to develop an affordable plan that meets your personal and financial goals, resolves your important issues and delivers peace of mind that your affairs are addressed.

    • A family member passed away.  What do I need to do?

    Once all personal and family matters have been reasonably addressed, you should consult with an experienced estate settlement attorney to assist you with the transfer of assets from your loved one to the appropriate beneficiary or beneficiaries.  Because of the various rules involved with the transfer of assets, you are well advised to seek assistance, even with the smallest of estates, to ensure that all required steps are taken and that the transfers are properly completed.  You should take care not to attempt any transfers prematurely, as such action could potentially eliminate post-mortem planning options which may otherwise be available.  In addition, you will need to consult with counsel to determine whether it is necessary to open a probate estate to transfer the assets, or whether the estate requires the filing of federal and state estate tax returns.  Early consultation with an experienced estate administration attorney can result in several advantages that otherwise might not be available.

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