Divorce and Your Important Legal Documents

Divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. Quite frankly, it can be a traumatic experience.  When all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed, many people think it’s over.  Everything has been addressed.  All the important business has been handled.  Unfortunately, many people are wrong.

Many people would be surprised to learn that some of their most important legal and financial documents have been overlooked.   Documents that have big impacts, such as their:  will and trust, power of attorney, health care directives, beneficiaries, and minor children’s guardianship.  It is imperative these documents are updated to ensure that the person you intend to be in a position of authority over your affairs, should something happen to you, actually is.  The following are a few things you’ll want to consider if you find yourself facing divorce:

  1. Revoke your existing Will and create a new one. In Alabama, once you and your spouse divorce, your spouse no longer stands to inherit any of your estate, unless your Will states otherwise.
  2. If you have minor children, you’ll want to appoint a legal guardian.  You may also want to consider leaving your assets in a trust, and appoint a trustee to manage it, for the benefit of your children.
  3. Many assets pass outside of your will and instead are distributed upon death through written beneficiary designations. It’s critical that you update your beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and certain bank and brokerage accounts.
  4. Revoke your existing Power of Attorney and create a new one. In Alabama, once you file for a legal separation, annulment or divorce, your spouse no longer authority to act as your agent, unless your Power of Attorney states otherwise.  However, this only applies for Powers of Attorney executed in 2012 or later.
  5. Update your Health Care Directive (also referred to as your Living Will) and appoint a new health care proxy.   This is the person who can make medical decisions on your behalf in an emergency or when you cannot speak for yourself.  It’s important to appoint someone you trust, as this person could be making life and death decisions on your behalf.  In Alabama, once you and your spouse divorce, your ex-spouse’s appointment is revoked, unless your Health Care Directive or your divorce/annulment/separation order states otherwise.

In summary, if you’re recently divorced or are considering divorce, it’s important that you consult with your financial advisor and/or attorney as soon as possible to review and update the documents noted above.  If you would like to speak with our firm about scheduling an appointment to address your specific legal needs, please fill out the short form below, or you may contact us at anytime by calling 256.533.2002.  Please do not include any personal information regarding your legal matter in the Comments box below.

 

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

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The Dangers of Online Dating

Tens of millions of single men and women join, and log on to, online dating sites each day, each believing their effort to find love and companionship is safe; but, is anyone really safe?  To make it clear, there haven’t been any hard studies to get real numbers of domestic-violence incidents or attacks as a result of online dating, so it’s hard to say that online dating mediums pose more of a threat than traditional dating always has.  However, with the national media coverage of several recent online dating murders, we feel it’s important to stress the importance of protecting yourself when you engage in online dating.

So, how do you protect yourself?  Bruce Anderson, director of Cyber Intelligence and Investigations, encourages online daters to conduct online searches and background checks.  “You should always do a background check on the person that you are dating,” Anderson told FoxNews.com.  Doing so is a wise move as most online dating sites do not conduct one.  Under Match.com’s “Terms of Use Agreement,” you’ll find the following legal language:

“You are solely responsible for your interactions with other members.  You understand that the company currently does not conduct criminal background checks or screenings on its members.  The company also does not inquire into the backgrounds of all of its members or attempt to verify the statements of its members.  The company makes no representations or warranties as to the conduct of members or their compatibility with any current or future members.  The company reserves the right to conduct any criminal background check or other screenings (such as sex offender register searches), at any time and using available public records.”

A well-known lifestyle and consumer reporter for several national news outlets paid for online background checks and discovered that on one reputable online dating site alone, eight out of 10 men had lied on their resumes (only men were included as the reporter was female).  According to Online Dating Magazine, “there are approximately 2,500 online dating sites in the United States”.  Now, let’s assume there are 100 male members on each of these sites, and eight out of 10 of those men have also lied on their resumes on each of the 2,500 sites.  That’s 200,000 out of 250,000 male members who are not exactly who they represent themselves to be.  This number is more than alarming, and proves that by not properly looking into someone to make sure they are who they say they are, you open yourself up to a number of dangers, including: rape, kidnapping, and robbery.

Protect yourself from online dating predators, by following these simple tips:

  1. Practice online security by using a separate email account for online dating (don’t use your real name as part of this email address, and make sure any “signature” features are turned off)
  2. Meet in a public place
  3. Let others know of your plans
  4. Pay your own way
  5. Dress for success (so that you don’t send an overly sexual or provocative message)
  6. Never let your guard down
  7. Trust your instincts

 

 

HOME: FIND. BUY. PROTECT. The Third Leg.

It’s National Homeownership Month and our goal is to help educate and prepare future home buyers for the home buying process.  In our last two posts, we’ve discussed how buying a home can be like standing on a stool.  It takes a lot of balance, and to keep from falling, you’ll need all three legs of the stool working together to hold you up.

In today’s blog, we’ll focus on the third leg of the stool, the title agent, who helps protect the home you purchase.  Your title agent will work to provide you with peace of mind during your home buying process, reduce your risk, and help protect your property rights by examining and verifying legal documents associated with the property you are purchasing.  As you can imagine, this is a complex process, but it’s very important because it ensures the title can be legally transferred to you, so you can be confident that once you purchase the property, you will be the rightful owner.

To ensure the title is valid, there will be a thorough examination of property records, known as a title search.  During the title search, your title agent searches public and private records looking for previous liens, tax issues, unpaid child support, ownership disputes, forgery or fraud and other possible issues that might impact ownership.  As you can imagine, this is no “Google Search.”  The title company may require a survey to determine the boundaries of the property, whether the home on the property sits within those boundaries, whether there are any encroachments on the property by neighbors or any easements that may impact an ownership claim.

Once it has been verified that the title to the property you are purchasing is valid, your title agent will offer you an owner’s title insurance policy to help protect your property rights.  Title insurance protects the lender and/or owner against lawsuits or claims against the property that result from disputes over the title.  Your mortgage lender will purchase a separate “lender’s policy” to protect their financial interest in your property, BUT only an “owner’s policy” protects YOUR interests in the property.  Owner’s title insurance has a one-time fee, and protects you for as long as you or your heirs own the property.  The cost of title insurance depends on the size of the loan and varies greatly from state to state.

The party involved in completing a transaction between a buyer and seller is known as the settlement agent.  Often times, your title agent will also be your settlement agent; therefore, you may meet with or speak with this agent, or their office, on multiple occasions.  At closing, your settlement agent will bring all the necessary documentation related to the closing, explain it to both parties prior to signing, collect closing costs and distribute monies.  You should feel free to contact your title/settlement agent at any time to get answers to your questions on title searches, title insurance, or closings.  Finally, your settlement agent will ensure that the new titles, deeds and other associated documents are filed with the appropriate entities.

From contract to closing, your Realtor®, lender and title agent work together to make this exciting experience as simple and painless as possible.  Buying a home is likely the biggest financial (not to mention, emotional) decision of your entire life, and having a good support system to help keep you balanced is what you need, and deserve.   Rahmati Law Firm is a Vetted and Verified Stewart® Trusted Provider™ and our attorneys stand ready to assist you with all of your real estate closing needs. If you would like to speak with our real estate team about scheduling a closing with our firm, please fill out the short form below, or you may contact our real estate team anytime by calling 256.533.2002.

To learn more about what it takes to be a Stewart® Trusted Provider™, please visit http://www.stewart.com/agency-services/stewart-trusted-providers.

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

Do You Know?

“Photos posted online of four smiling sisters has taken on a new, tragic meaning in the aftermath of a deadly crash that cost them their lives and left several others seriously injured in a Memorial Day crash on Interstate 95,” according to Florida Today.  The mother of the four young girls was driving the 2006 Dodge Durango when it lost a tire and flipped multiple times as the SUV veered off the highway.

According to investigators, the family and friends in the vehicle were on their way back home after spending the holiday together.  Troopers say eleven people were crammed into the vehicle which typically seats up to eight people, according to car dealers and Kelly Blue Book’s website.  Investigators are still looking into how many of the occupants were wearing seat belts.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) wants to keep you, your family and friends safe on the roadways.  Several laws have been put into place to do just that.  Do you know what they are?  A wide range of areas are covered, including: child car seats, safety belts, cell phone usage, driving under the influence and more.  It’s important you know and abide by all safety laws.  The following information was supplied by the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles:

Child Car Seat Laws

Alabama law requires children of certain ages and sizes to be seated in appropriate child car seats.  Use the following guide from the Alabama Department of Public Safety when buying a child car seat.

  • Up to 1 year old or 20 pounds: A rear-facing, infant-only or convertible seat
  • 1 year old – 5 years old or 40 pounds: A forward-facing car seat
  • 5 years old – 6 years old: A booster seat

*Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s weight and age specifications and recommendations when using a child car seat.

Alabama Seat Belt Laws

If you are in the front seat of a running vehicle, you must wear a safety belt or risk a fine…from the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS).  If you are seated in the back seat, you are NOT required to wear a seat belt unless you are under 15 years old.

According to the Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS), there have been 240 motor vehicle fatalities year-to-date in the State of Alabama.  100 of those were not wearing a seatbelt.

*Only traffic crashes investigated by Alabama State Troopers are included. 

Cell Phone Use

In Alabama, if you are 16 or 17 years old and have only held your license for under 6 months, it is illegal for you to use your cell phone or mobile device at any time while driving.  Regardless of your age, it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving to send or receive:

  • Text messages
  • Instant messages
  • E-mails

According to The Center for Advance Public Safety (CAPS), “In 2014, there were a total of 820 auto accident fatalities in Alabama, and there were 27,665 investigated Alabama accidents. Distracted driving was the primary contributing circumstance of 45 fatal Alabama crashes in 2014 and was the primary contributing circumstance in 8,557 of all Alabama accidents.”

DUIs and Drunk Driving

The Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) enforces strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI).  You are not legally allowed to drive a vehicle if you have the following blood alcohol content (BAC) levels:

  • 0.02% or more for anyone under 21 years old
  • 0.02% or more for school bus or daycare drivers
  • 0.08% or more for anyone operating a vehicle
  • 0.04% or more for anyone operating a commercial vehicle

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2014, more than 30% of all vehicle fatalities were alcohol related.

For more information on Alabama safety laws, please visit http://www.dmv.org/al-alabama/safety-laws.php

HOME: FIND. BUY. PROTECT. The Second Leg.

Today officially kicks off National Homeownership Month, and our goal is to help educate and prepare future home buyers for the home buying process.  In our last post, we compared buying a home to standing on a stool.  It takes a lot of balance, and to keep from falling, you’ll need all three legs of the stool working together to hold you up.

Today we’ll focus on the second leg of the stool, the lender.  The lender helps you finance the home you want to purchase.  This part of the home buying process can be very complex, and understanding it end-to-end is important. Many people feel overwhelmed because of the amount of paperwork to be completed, but knowing what to expect will help you make sound decisions about your home purchase.  The more knowledgeable you are the better, but a good lender will be by your side every step of the way to prepare you for what happens next.


Pre-Qualification

The first person you’ll meet during this part of the process is your loan officer.  Your loan officer can assess your creditworthiness and determine your eligibility to purchase a home prior to you formally applying for a home loan through the “pre-qualification” process.  They’ll also evaluate your household income, debt, and assets to determine your “buying power”, or how much you can afford.  Your loan officer will discuss various loan types and terms of mortgages with you.  Loan officers are mortgage specialists, so they’re a good resource for helping you determine which mortgage option best suits your financial situation.  Having a letter of pre-qualification from a lender can help strengthen your negotiating position when making an offer on a home.  Keep in mind that you are not obligated to obtain financing from the lender who pre-qualifies you.


Preparation

Federal law requires your lender to provide you with a Loan Estimate, which includes a summary of your settlement charges, within three days of applying for a loan; however, prior to making an offer on a specific home, you can ask your loan officer to provide you with an estimated cost to close.  Doing so will provide you with an estimate of the amount of closing costs, escrows and prepaids you’ll need in order to purchase the home.  Having this information early may be helpful when budgeting the out-of-pocket costs of your home purchase.


Application

Your pre-qualification is not a guarantee that you’ll be approved for a loan.  Once you have a signed purchase agreement on the home you intend to buy, you’ll formally apply for a mortgage.  Again, you’re not obligated to apply with the same lender who pre-qualified you.  During this stage of the process, you will likely meet your loan processor.  The processor’s job is to prepare your loan information and application for presentation to the underwriter.  You’ll provide your processor with the appropriate documentation necessary to apply for your loan.  Your processor will ask you for a variety of documents, including, but not limited to, tax returns, W-2s, bank statements and pay stubs.  Your processor ensures that all the proper documentation is included in your file, all numbers are calculated correctly, and everything is in the proper order.  They will then send your file to the mortgage underwriter.


Authorization

Your underwriter is the decision maker and is authorized to assess whether or not you’re eligible for the mortgage loan you’re applying for.  Your underwriter will ultimately approve or reject your loan application based on your creditworthiness, employment history, assets, debts, and other factors.

Once you’ve completed the application process, your loan officer will provide you with a variety of documents outlining the costs associated with your loan, including the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure, to help prepare you for closing.   These forms are required by law, for your protection.  As noted earlier, within three business days of completing your loan application, your loan officer must provide you with a Loan Estimate which provides you with an estimate of your loan terms and details of your settlement charges should you be approved for a mortgage loan.  Once the underwriter approves the loan, your loan officer is required to provide you with your Closing Disclosure at least three business days before your scheduled closing is to occur.  This tool allows you to double-check that all of your loan details are correct.  Once you approve your Closing Disclosure, you’ll be ready to move forward to the closing.

Your lender is a lot like your Realtor®.  They also work for you 24/7 — whether you need a little more information or guidance, have questions about what happens next, or just need a shoulder to lean on in order to feel at ease.  Buying a home is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and your lender doesn’t take this lightly.

To verify a lender, please visit www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.” 

HOME: FIND. BUY. PROTECT. The First Leg.

Next month is National Homeownership Month, and our goal is to help educate and prepare future home buyers for the home buying process.  Buying a house is an exciting time, but it’s similar to standing on a stool.  It takes a lot of balance, and to keep from falling, you’ll need all three legs of the stool working together to hold you up.  You’re probably asking yourself, “Buying a house is like a standing on a stool?  How so?”  Let me explain.


Today we’ll focus on the first leg of the stool, the Realtor®.  The one who helps you find the home you’ll eventually purchase.  Although there are hundreds of online resources available to help you search for homes for sale, the most reliable data is always going to come directly from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  A Realtor® has the ability to provide you with the most up-to-date property listings, comparisons, and benchmarks through their paid subscription to their local MLS*.

While you may initially lean on these other resources to get an idea of the current real estate environment, a Realtor® will be able to keep you updated, almost to-the-minute, on the status of properties you may be interested in.  Through their access to the MLS, Realtors® are an invaluable resource for information on how long a particular home has been on the market, if it’s been listed more than once, its pricing history and how it compares to similar homes around it.  Keep in mind that sometimes properties are available, but not actively advertised.  A Realtor® can help identify those hidden opportunities, as well as help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online, but are actually no longer on the market.

Most Realtors® live and breathe real estate, and often times they can share information about a home that you wouldn’t otherwise know.  They can be great resources for insights into neighborhood specific information and trends.  For instance, they may have valuable information on HOA obligations for a specific building or community, potentially saving you from huge headaches due to fees or special assessments.  A Realtor® can also provide information on local utilities, zoning, schools, and more.


Finding the perfect home is the fun part, but then the real work begins.  Buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other documents.  Most Realtors® are immersed in real estate, and stay current with the complex, ever-changing real estate industry, including updates in regulations, laws, contracts and practices.  Their cultivated skills can help you prepare an attractive offer, navigate complex contract documents, negotiate the contract, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.

Plain and simple, your Realtor® is your advocate.  They work for you 24/7 — whether you need a little more information on a particular home, have questions about what happens next, or just need a shoulder to lean on in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in.  Buying a home is likely the biggest financial (not to mention, emotional) decision of your entire life, and you want to do it right.  Guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors® take lightly.

To verify a Realtor®, please visit https://www.arello.com.

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.” 

Starting A Small Business

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

Finding The Right Attorney For The Job

According to entrepreneur.com, “There are two professionals every business will need early on: an accountant and a lawyer.  The reasons for hiring an accountant are pretty obvious…The reason for hiring a business attorney may not, however, be so apparent.  A good business attorney will provide vital assistance in almost every aspect of your business, from basic zoning compliance and copyright and trademark advice to formal business incorporation and lawsuits and liability.”  As a small business owner, you’ll want a business attorney with a comprehensive skill set, including:  contracts, business organizations, real estate, taxes and licenses, as well as intellectual property.

A Common Misperception

Most small business owners have the misperception that attorneys are expensive, and as a result, they only hire an attorney experienced with business matters when confronted with a serious legal matter (i.e. being sued by a customer).  The reality is, legal assistance is a cost of doing business which often saves a business owner time and money, and helps their business in the long run.

For The Love Of The Barbecue

Recently, Rahmati Law Firm had the pleasure of assisting a client in the startup of his new small business venture, We “B” Smokin’.  Barry Brand, owner, always had the passion to grill.  “It’s just something about cooking outdoors”, he said.  Barry and his wife, Angela, have always enjoyed entertaining family and friends, and they quickly noticed that their get-togethers always centered around one thing…Barry’s grill.

As a toddler, their daughter, Taylor, asked him “Daddy, you been smoking?  Where is the meat?” and there you have it…the birth of We “B” Smokin’.  To bring his idea to life, Barry hired Rahmati Law Firm to assist him with some business basics:  selecting the form of business entity best suited for him, registering his business with the Secretary of State, securing his business licenses and other essentials.

Doing Great Work By Doing What You Love

Through the years, Barry has studied the science of grilling, the best techniques, the best methods of preparation, and the best grills.  He even designed his own 250-lb propane grill that helped him introduce his talents to the world.  He’s won countless competitions, including:

  • 2nd place – Best Buckin’ BBQ Competion – 2011 (Boston Butts)
  • People’s Choice Award – Best Buckin’ BBQ Competion – 2012 (Boston Butts)
  • 2nd place – Best Buckin’ BBQ Competion – 2012 (Ribs)
  • 4th place – Anything Butt Competition – Riverfest – 2013
  • 2nd place – Locust Grove Baptist Church in New Market – 2014 (Boston Butts)
  • People’s Choice Award – Riverfest – 2014 (Boston Butts)
  • Top 10 – Smoking Not Allowed In School Competition – 2016 (Ribs)

Barry also enjoys his passion for grilling by volunteering his expertise at local churches and community events.  When asked what he’s done to make grilled meats so great, his response is “I just continue to fuel my passion for making people happy, perfect my craft in the great outdoors and engage my talents for the glory of God.  A simple recipe for success.”

We “B” Smokin’ is a proud member of the Kansas City Barbecue Society.  For information on We “B” Smokin’, please contact Barry Brand at (256) 509-7580.

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.” 

Why 20% of Homebuyers May Not Sleep Tonight

Each year, approximately 20% of homebuyers fail to protect themselves by not getting owner’s title insurance. Unfortunately, this leaves them exposed to serious financial risk—causing endless worry and regret.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your property rights, so you can rest assured once you’ve purchased your home.

Looking For Potential Threats

During the home-closing process, your title professional will help transition the home from the seller to you, the homebuyer, by examining public records. Generally, if a problem is discovered, the title professional works to resolve them before you purchase the home.

However, even after a title search is performed and you purchase your home, problems could arise that threaten your ownership rights. Examples include:

  • Undiscovered tax liens
  • Forged signatures in the chain of title
  • Recording errors
  • Undisclosed easements
  • Title claims by missing heirs* or ex-spouses

Getting owner’s title insurance protects your property rights from threats like these. Here’s a real-life example of how it works.


True Story

A family in Missouri unknowingly purchased their home from a seller who had taken out a separate $419,000 loan on the property. But this fact was not discovered during the closing process, and the family’s lender paid the seller directly instead of paying off the existing loan.

Soon, the family faced foreclosure because someone else had claim against their title. Fortunately, the family had owner’s title insurance. So the title company paid the debt and the family kept their home—and peace of mind.

This story has a positive ending, but without owner’s title insurance, the family could have faced serious costs, and even eviction.


Protect Yourself

There are two types of title insurance: lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance.

Lender’s title insurance is required by most lenders and banks because it protects their loan investments. Usually, you purchase this policy as the homebuyer. If you only have a lender’s policy, where the outstanding loan is covered, your equity is not protected. Therefore, you could have your property rights taken away if someone else has claim to your home.

Owner’s title insurance is the policy that protects your property rights from legal and financial threats like those mentioned in the story you just read. That’s why millions of homebuyers each year make the smart decision to get owner’s title insurance. It’s a low, one-time fee that provides the peace of mind that every homebuyer deserves, for as long as you or your family* own your home. In many areas, the seller purchases the policy for you. Ask your title professional how it’s handled in your area.


Support and Free Information

To buy your home with confidence, you need to work with a trusted title professional. They’re the experts who will help you throughout the home closing process. They will also advise you on how to protect your property rights and avoid costly problems by getting owner’s title insurance.

For more information, contact Rahmati Law Firm at 256.533.2002 or visit www.homeclosing101.org.

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”  *This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

Understanding Closing Costs

What are Closing Costs?

Closing costs refer to the costs associated with purchasing, selling, or refinancing real estate. According to InvestorWords.com, Closing Costs are defined as “fees and expenses, over and above the price of the property, incurred by the buyer and/or the seller in the property ownership transfer.”  Examples include:  loan origination fee, points, appraisal fee, title search and insurance, survey, taxes, deed recording fee, credit report charge and other costs. Closing costs are also known as settlement costs, and are typically 2% – 6% of the mortgage amount.

Closing costs are a large expense associated with purchasing any real estate and are paid at closing.  The closing is the final step in executing a real estate transaction and when the ownership of a piece of real estate is transferred to the new owner. In real estate sales, who pays what is often dictated by local custom. In a mortgage refinance, costs may be paid by the lender or borrower.

Your closing costs should not be a surprise at the closing table.  As required by TILA-RESPA, these costs are disclosed to the Purchaser by the lender on the Loan Estimate during the loan application process, as well as to the Purchaser and Seller on the Closing Disclosures prior to closing.

What You Really Need to Know

Closing costs can spoil the Purchaser’s excitement at closing if they don’t have a clear understanding of what the closing costs are or why they’re required to pay them. When a Purchaser understands what the individual fees are and knows why each of them are necessary, closing can again become an exciting event. Below is a breakdown of the costs paid by the Purchaser, the Seller and those costs that are typically shared.  Keep in mind that any of the Purchaser’s costs are negotiable, and can be paid by the Seller if the Purchaser and Seller both agree to it.  This agreement must be in writing.

A good resource for understanding each of these costs can be found at the following link:  http://www.goodmortgage.com/Learn/Basics/Closing_Costs.html.

PURCHASER COSTS
Loan Closing Costs: Pre-Paid Items:
Origination Fee Interest to the beginning of the next month
Appraisal Fee Up-front mortgage insurance
Credit Report VA funding fee
Final Inspection Fee USDA Rural Development fee
Processing Fee Escrows:
Tax Service Fee Hazard Insurance
Flood Certification Mortgage Insurance
Discount Points Property Taxes
Title Charges: Recording Charges:
Settlement Fee Recording fees for deed and mortgage
Title Search Fee Deed Tax
Express Fees Mortgage Tax
Courier Fees Recording and handling fees
Wire Fees Miscellaneous Fees:
Termite Letter
Transfer Fees
Follow-up Inspection Fee
SELLER COSTS
Real Estate Commissions
Deed Preparation Fee
Express Fee
Courier fee for pay-off of existing mortgage
Record of Release
“Corrections” required according to the termite letter
Tax Proration
Costs of curing defects in the title
SPLIT COSTS
Title Binder
Title Insurance Premium
Simultaneous Issue Fee

“No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”

Estate Planning 101

Have you ever heard the old cliche “Most people don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.”?  The thought of planning for your future can be overwhelming, and finding the time to do it can be stressful.  Many people think they don’t need to plan for the future; but, getting your affairs in order can make things much easier for your surviving family members.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Everyone needs an estate plan because believe it or not…almost everyone has an estate. Anything that you own becomes part of your estate:  your home, car, personal possessions, financial investments, bank accounts, life insurance.  It’s important to provide a plan that states your wishes to ensure your wishes are carried out as you intended.  For most people, the following documents constitute a basic estate plan:

WILL – A will details where you want your assets to go and who is to oversee the execution of the will.  It may also state who is to care for your minor children.

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY (POA) – A durable POA allows you to designate a representative, such as a spouse or an adult child, to perform certain actions for you should you become ill, incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your affairs.

HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE – A health care directive is your written declaration of what, if any, life-sustaining medical treatments you would want in the event that you become incapacitated or placed on life support.

HEALTH CARE PROXY – A health care proxy is a person that you designate to make medical decisions on your behalf, and to carry out your health care directive, if you were ever to become incapacitated.

For advanced planning, a trust may be implemented as well.  Trusts are legal vehicles in which a person, a trustee, holds and controls assets for the benefit of a designated beneficiary.  Trusts are useful in many situations, such as for the benefit of children or tax planning.  Placing assets in trust for your children will allow for proper oversight and distribution of the funds by a trustee you designate to your children according to your wishes.

Common Questions:

Does a person have to have a minimum amount of assets to create a last will?  No.  You can create a last will to dispose of assets worth minimal value.

What happens if a person dies without a last will?  Your estate is probated (passed) through the courts for distribution according to the state laws of intestacy – not necessarily according to your wishes.

Can I use standard formed (fill in the blank) wills such as those found in how-to books?  Yes, but you may not get the results you were planning for.  If any of these documents contain errors or omissions, they may be void entirely or may contain provisions contrary to your wishes. Formed documents cannot account for the nuances of your individual situation. In addition, it is best to have an experienced attorney give you advice on which documents you need.

How do I decide what’s best for me?  Wills aren’t  necessarily complicated. They’re actually among the simplest legal documents.  Again, whether or not a will is adequate for your estate planning needs depends on your individual circumstances.  The most important thing is you don’t procrastinate because planning for your future is the best way to protect your loved ones and make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.  Consult an attorney, if you’re not sure what you need to protect your family.

Are there risks associated with Powers of Attorneys?  Choosing your agent carefully is the best way to minimize any risk.  Choose someone you trust completely and don’t forget that you are giving your agent the opportunity to access your funds at a time when you may not be able to oversee what he or she is doing.   You can also limit the authority you give your agent in the Power of Attorney.

Does a person have to have a Health Care Directive to stop treatment near the end of life?  No.  Treatment can be stopped without one if everyone involved agrees; however, without a health care directive, decisions may be more difficult and disputes are more likely to arise among family.

Does a directive mean “do not treat?”  A directive can  express both what you want and do not want.  Even if you do not want treatment to keep you on life support, you should always be kept reasonably pain free and comfortable.

If I name a health care proxy, do I give up the right to make my own decisions?  Naming a health care proxy doesn’t take away any of your authority.  You always have the right, while you are still competent, to override the decision of your proxy or revoke the health care directive.

Are directives only for older people with health problems?  No.  It is best for everyone to have a health care directive along with a will, regardless of age.  This allows you to free your family from making a tough decision of keeping you on life support or not.

Planning for your future doesn’t have to be difficult.  We understand.  We can help.  Contact Rahmati Law Firm today for comprehensive, professional advice and counsel in all aspects of estate planning.

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