Purchasing a home is a long-term financial investment, and most likely one of the most expensive ones you’ll ever make. Also, if you’re a first time homebuyer, even if you’ve saved enough for a nice down payment, buying real estate may be a much more complex transaction then you may know.
Your dream of owning a nice home could turn into a financial nightmare, so knowing the dangerous mistakes of the buying process may help you prevent them and turn your dream into reality.
Here are 10 of the costliest mistakes you could make as a first time home-buyer, and tips on how to get the most out of your purchase:
1. Not Budgeting for Your Loan
The truth is, what you know you can afford or are comfortable with paying and what the bank determines you can borrow are not necessarily the same. If you haven’t already, create a budget now. Make a list of all your monthly expenses, minus rent, and include vehicle costs, student loan payments, credit card payments, groceries, health insurance, retirement savings, and major expenses that only occur once a year (any insurance premiums you pay annually, annual vacations, etc.). Subtract this total from your net earnings and you’ll know how much you can spend on your new home each month. Using a mortgage calculator to research current interest rates will give you an estimate of what your total mortgage payments will be.
Often times, people look at homes that are outside of their price range, and end up desiring something they cannot afford – which can put some in the dangerous position of trying to stretch beyond their means financially, or cause them to feel unhappy with what they actually can afford. It’s much wiser to stay realistic, and work with what you are truly comfortable with at this point of your life.
2. Not Getting Pre-Approved
Since what you think you can afford and what the bank is willing to lend you may be quite different, especially if you have poor credit or unstable income, make sure to get pre-approved before putting an offer on any homes – even if they sound like the best deals. If you sign a contract only to discover that the bank won’t lend you what you need, or that they’re only willing to give you a mortgage that you find unacceptable, it will be a huge disappointment and a waste of everyone’s effort and time.
Also, know that even if you have been pre-approved, your loan can fall through at the last minute due to a change in your credit score, such as financing a car purchase. If you cause the deal to fall through, it may cost you the several thousand dollars that you gave when you went under contract.
3. Not Considering Additional Expenses
Once you become a homeowner, expenses you’ll be responsible for will arise in addition to your monthly payment, such as property taxes, insuring your home against disasters and making any repairs the house needs (which can include costly items such as a new roof or a new AC system).
If you’re buying a condo, you’ll be part of a homeowner’s association and you’ll have to pay monthly maintenance costs regardless of whether anything needs fixing. This can amount to a couple of hundred dollars a month in the form of condominium fees, and not budgeting for this can have a great impact on you.
4. Not Being Flexible Enough
As a first-time homebuyer, you often have to make compromises because your funds may be limited, or there may be time constraints. While you can create a lovely long wish list of things you’d like to have in your new home, don’t make a mistake of being inflexible and as a result continuing to rent for significantly longer than you really want to, and can realistically afford to. Being flexible may mean that you initially accept outdated decor, or say yes to a place without that extra room or bathroom.
5. Not Having a Vision
Hand in hand with not being flexible, many homeowners make a mistake of not having a vision, so remember that it might be worth it to live with the undesirable style for a while in exchange for getting into a house you can afford. If a home meets your needs in terms of the big things that are difficult to change, such as location and size, don’t let physical imperfections turn you away – instead, see the possibilities and potentials. Plus, doing home upgrades yourself, even if you have to hire a contractor, is often cheaper than paying the increased home value to a seller who has already done the work for you, and may provide even more freedom for getting things done just the way you want.
6. Not Considering Home Re-Sale Value
First time homebuyers are often too swept away to think about the home’s resale value. Instead of paying extra for a home that had minor upgrades and cosmetic fixes and ends up costing you much more, consider homes whose full potential has yet to be realized, especially if you’re on a budget. First-time homebuyers should always look for a house they can add value to, and think about if or when the time comes, will your house be easy to sell, and will selling it provide a nice sum to put down on another home?
7. Not Focusing on the Crucial Things
While you’ll probably have to make some compromises in order to afford your first home, they should not be on the very important things. For instance, unless it’s a very temporary place or bought as an investment, don’t get a two-bedroom home knowing you’re planning to have kids and will need three+ bedrooms; or, don’t buy a condo just because it may be cheaper when one of the main reasons you’re over apartment life is because you hate sharing walls with neighbors.
8. Not Hiring Home Inspection
It’s alluring to think that you’re a homeowner the moment you go into escrow – but before you close on the sale, make sure you know what kind of shape the house is in. While a place may look nice, you want to ensure you’re not getting stuck with a money pit or with the expenses and inconvenience of needing to do a lot of unexpected repairs. Hire a licensed, independent home inspector to get a full picture of the house’s physical condition, it will help you avoid making a serious financial mistake.
9. Not Hiring Your Own Agent
Get an experienced agent to represent you before you start seriously shopping around. Given the complexities associated with the process of buying a home, it’s hard to know and understand all the ins and outs of the market, effectively compete with aggressive bids, and stay protected financially and legally.
Since so much can go wrong with a home purchase that can result in long-term financial consequences, it’s wise to also hire an experienced real estate attorney, who is up to date in current real estate laws of your state. He or she will review all the terms of such an important transaction and may be able to alert you to potential issues with the deal.
10. Not Thinking About the Future
While you cannot perfectly predict the future of your new neighborhood, paying attention to the available information can help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
Seek answers about your prospective property to find out what kind of development plans may be in the works for your neighborhood, what are the zoning laws in your area, if your street is likely to become a major street or a rush-hour shortcut, if a highway is likely to be built too close, what is likely to get built on the nearby undeveloped land, if home values in the neighborhood have been declining, what is the proximity of schools, shops, hospitals, etc. If you’re aligned with the answers, then your house’s location is likely to be in the neighborhood that you will enjoy living in.
Buying a first home can be very exciting, and also stressful, with potential pitfalls – do your best to protect yourself from costly mistakes and shop with more ease and confidence.
At the Levin Law Group, our real estate lawyers are here to help you navigate the complicated waters of buying a home.
Take steps to ensure your interests are protected – contact the Levin Law Group’s experienced and dedicated real estate attorneys today.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
June 26, 2017
Did you know that, at any given day, there are many homes for sale in the country priced at above $100 million, and there are at least 25 homes for sale for over 75 million dollars?
The vast majority of these highly expensive, lavish homes are for sale in and around New York, and then in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.
A daily list of the 25 most expensive homes in America is provided by 24/7 Wall St., from the listings by Realtor.com. The list typically does not change quickly, as the market for these homes is small.
This is the list composed and published on January 23, 2017 – some of these home prices will likely shock you!
The Manor, at 594 S Mapleton Drive, Los Angeles, CA, offered at $200,000,000
Built in 1988 by entertainment royalty Aaron and Candy Spelling, this is considered the grandest private residence in Los Angeles. It sits on nearly five acres of rare flat land that borders the LA Country Club. The house has 14 beds, 27 baths, and 56,500 square feet. In addition to 7 BR suites and 7 staff bedrooms, there is a grand formal living room, projection room, bar, family room, library, office, service wing, billiards room, game room, two lane bowling alley, wine cellar and tasting room, catering kitchen, gym and a fully equipped beauty salon including masseuse and tanning rooms.
Great Island Rd Darien, CT 06820, offered at $195,000,000
This amazing 63-acre waterfront island estate with east, south, and west views of Long Island Sound, views of lighthouse and secluded anchorage in hidden cove. Romantic Italian stone manor house, with 10 beds, 8 full, 2 half baths, 13,170 square feet, plus substantial stable and equestrian facilities including a polo field and an indoor ring, beach house, and boathouse.
100 and 90 Briar Patch Road, East Hampton, NY, offered at $140,000,000
This is a world class East Hampton Estate, has 11.2 acres on exclusive Georgica Pond with water frontage for the best sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding on the East End, and breathtaking southwest views. Main residence, “Shepard Krech House” was completely renovated in 1990 by architect Peter Marino. 10,300 square-foot property consists of the six-bedroom house, that has a three-story living room, sunken library, gourmet kitchen, and third-story gym, and a second residence built in 1990.
1083 Fifth Ave New York City, NY 10128, offered at $109,000,000
While not in the top three high-priced properties in the United States, this home deserves a mention, as it’s the most expensive townhome on the market, together with two more offered at the same price.
This stunning, palatial and beautifully proportioned home is a jewel because of its location, views and scale. Directly facing Central Park and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, this breathtaking mansion has over 15,680 above-grade square feet, a glorious rotunda weighted with Corinthian pilasters, Hauteville marble staircase, a 51 Oval Gallery, a Drawing Room, a sitting room decorated with Tudor strapwork ceiling, two master suites, 3 guest bedrooms, 9 staff rooms, an elevator and a Fifth Avenue address – one of the most magnificent and gracious townhouses in the city.
Whether you are looking to move into one of the high priced NYC or NY properties or need a more affordable home – rely on a trusted and experienced real estate attorney to protect your assets and your rights as they help you navigate through complex real estate transactions.
The Levin Law Group’s experienced, proficient real estate lawyers can assist individuals and business entities in a broad spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions throughout New York State.
Contact our real estate attorneys in NYC and other nearby areas today.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
June 12, 2017
Creating a will is not the most pleasant of tasks, nor do most people like thinking about it. But, not having a will, or not having a properly devised will, may lead to all kinds of complications regarding your legacy.
Stating your wishes in a will helps ensure that your property will be distributed the way you want, and will also help your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles. The fact is, though, that no one’s wealth is exempt from the legal problems that can happen without correct estate planning, and even celebrities make those mistakes.
Here are just some examples of celebrity estate planning fiascos and lessons we can all learn about how to handle our own planning and legacies:
The 80’s and 90’s pop icon died in early 2016, leaving no will. Supposedly, Prince had a distrust of legal system and profession in general.
A costly and lengthy court battle continues over Prince’s estate, and there seems to be a conflict about determining who his actual heirs are.
It’s a sad and important lesson that proper legal documentation protects our legacy, and a reminder not to let a general distrust or a previous bad experience cause our heirs to fight and potentially lose their inheritance.
One of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century died in 1973 at the age 91. Picasso had six heirs and no will. A status with no will is referred to as “intestate”.
His substantial estate that included artwork, five homes, gold and bonds took six years to settle and cost $30 million.
A lesson for us all: take steps to ensure you have your estate planning documents in order before you go. When there’s no valid will, the estate is usually settled based on the laws of the state that outline who inherits what.
American singer, songwriter and one of the most influential electric guitarists, Jimi Hendrix died tragically at age 27. Just like Prince, he did not have a will when he died.
He did leave behind a long line of relatives, music industry big names, and business associates who all had an interest in what would become of his estate, including continuous earnings from his intellectual property. An attorney managed the estate for the first two decades after Jimi passed away, and then his father, Al Hendrix, was granted the control of the estate. Al disinherited his son, Leon Hendrix, and wanted to leave the entire estate to his adopted daughter Janie Hendrix. An estimated legacy was $80 million. Leon contested Al’s Will and lost the contest in 2007. The adopted daughter Janie Hendrix and Leon Hendrix finally reached the settlement in 2015 – almost five decades after Jimi Hendrix’s death.
When you don’t leave a will or trust, it can affect generations, and open a door to costly conflicts.
Tom Clancy, America’s, and the world’s, favorite international thriller author, left behind a huge fortune. However, his estate planning documents were not precise regarding some of the important details – leading to extra distress and drama for his family members.
Keep in mind, the more complicated your family and the more complex your assets and business dealings are – the more accurate, detailed, and proactive you need to be in working with your wills and trust lawyer.
An experienced wills and trust lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies and help put your wishes in writing, so they are carried out after your death, and make sure that your will meets the legal requirements of your state.
It is never too early or too late to begin thinking about a last will and estate planning, and creating it is usually a rather simple and inexpensive process, especially knowing it can give you peace of mind, and save your family time, money and grief.
Since the laws vary from state to state, it’s wise to consult with a knowledgeable wills attorney in NYC.
At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts attorneys in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of estate planning documents.
We invite you to contact us so we can help you take steps to ensure your wishes, interests and assets are protected. Get a will prepared by a trustworthy trust and wills attorney in NYC – contact Levin Law Group today for an estate lawyer free consultation.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
April 10, 2017
Buying or selling real estate is likely to be the most complex transaction you will make in your lifetime, and many questions, and sometimes complications, arise during the process. When that happens, most people will call their real estate agent or broker.
Since it’s also a fact that mistakes or oversights that sometimes happen during the real estate transaction can cause major legal consequences, especially if the deal is complicated or risky, it’s wise to consult with a real estate attorney.
We put together 5 general questions you should ask during your free lawyer consultation in NYC to make sure you’ve got the perfect legal match:
- Questions About Lawyer’s Experience
It’s smart to learn how much real-life legal experience your real estate attorney has, and what percentage of an attorney’s practice is devoted to real estate transactions.
Since not all real estate matters are created equal, determining if your attorney has dealt with transactions similar to yours will give you a better idea if he or she will be able to foresee potential issues and handle them on your behalf.
You want a lawyer who will not only negotiate on your behalf, but also take steps to ensure that you are aware of any legal particulars in your state, and that the contract follows all state laws, as well as addresses any specific issues.
Finally, find out who you will work with directly, who will do the most work on your legal matter, and make sure you’re comfortable with that person.
- Questions About Your Case
Experienced real estate lawyers will be able to provide a rough outline of the actions that need to be taken based on your case.
This may include filing of certain documents, reviewing contracts, amending contracts, title search, etc. And, it’s wise to ask about any actions that you should or should not take, as you certainly want to protect yourself during such important and complex transactions.
- Questions About the Process
Find out what the process of buying or selling a property looks like. You want to learn about possible difficulties and obstacles that might arise, such as disputes over repairs, title issues and appraisal issues. That’s why it’s so vital to have your attorney review your contract and make suggestions before you sign it.
Your real estate lawyer is there to protect you and make the process easier.
- Questions About the Cost
You want to know about the cost of the legal services, so you can plan ahead.
Ask your real estate lawyer what his or her hourly rate is, how much the retainer is, and whether or not the fee is a fixed or time-based fee.
You also want to ask what is included in the service and if you’ll need to pay for anything else in the process. Finally, inquire about what the things are that could change how much their services cost.
- Questions About Timelines and Expectations
You also want to ask of the approximate timelines to determine how long your case could take. Don’t hesitate to ask when you can expect to hear from your lawyer next.
Another great question to ask is: Are my expectations realistic?
Try to have reasonable expectations. The legal system and real estate law does not always work the way we want, so you may not get everything you want. And, delays sometimes happen.
Having Levin Law Group’s experienced, competent real estate lawyers by your side to look out for your legal interests with seasoned eyes will help ensure the transaction proceeds smoothly.
When searching for free consultation lawyers in NYC and other nearby areas, contact our real estate attorneys who are expert in assisting individuals and business entities in a broad spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
March 20, 2017
Spring, this wonderful season of renewal, blossoms and fragrant air, is finally here. This is the season to shake off the old and embrace new beginnings.
But did you know that spring is also the time when homes sell faster?
According to a recent study by researchers at Zillow, homes listed in the spring, specifically in the first half of May, on average sold around 18.5 days faster than those listed during a different timeframe!
When the weather is nice, shopping for homes is so much more enjoyable; plus, people like to begin new projects in the spring.
Are you looking to sell your property? Take advantage of the spring season – the optimal house selling time!
If you’re ready to sell your home, it’s wise, though, to not just list it without any preparation. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so take steps to have a presentable home for potential buyers.
Start with putting your buyer’s hat on, or have a real estate expert over, and walk thru your home looking for things to improve. Make a list of which minor touch-ups, necessary repairs or replacements are in order, and of the things that will enhance the look and feel of your home, beginning with the curb appeal.
Some of the essential things to do when getting your property ready for selling is getting rid of clutter and cleaning.
First, go through your possessions and get rid of the clutter and things that you don’t need. Also, hide family photos and other personal belongings for the house showings. Cleaning will be a lot easier when the clutter is gone.
Some other things to keep in mind when preparing your home for sale include painting the walls neutral colors and keeping the décor simple. A red dining room could turn off many potential buyers, so repaint your rooms in neutral tones – it will allow buyers to focus on your spaces, not the color of your walls. Simple décor will help buyers imagine themselves in your space, so it’s better to stick with classic, timeless pieces of furniture and decoration.
Oh, and don’t forget the importance of smells – think fresh and clean, so no frying fish or cooking curry the day of a showing.
If you’ve already moved out or if you simply cannot manage to keep your place in tip-top condition, hire a cleaning service to maintain the cleanliness every couple of weeks.
Let them turn your home into a spotless place, making sure all windows and hard to reach and not often used places are taken care of, too.
Homes seem to sell quicker in the spring, but clean homes will certainly sell even faster, so it’s worth every penny to make your home look immaculate and get expert cleaners to perform and in-depth cleaning for you.
For all your real estate transactions, hire an expert real estate attorney to ensure your home and your interests are protected throughout such important and complex deals.
We invite you to contact the Levin Law Group, a trustworthy, reliable real estate law firm in New York State and let our real estate lawyers assist you in a broad spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions today.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
January 16, 2017
No matter your age, it’s never too early or too late to start considering creating a living will and begin estate planning.
When it comes to last wills and testaments, understanding different aspects of it is not only helpful, it’s a must – for several reasons.
Having the right documents in order can bring you and your dear ones a peace of mind and a feeling of security and comfort.
So, do you have a revocable trust in place? If not, here’s why you should.
A revocable trust is a powerful estate-planning tool that you can create at any time during your life, and that can also be changed or terminated at any time.
When you create a revocable trust you become the grantor, the trustor, or the settlor, and, in most cases, also the trustee of the trust and the primary beneficiary of the trust during your lifetime.
A Revocable Trust grants you privacy for yourself and your heirs during the process.
The main purpose for a revocable trust is to avoid probate, the legal process of distributing assets of a decedent at death, which includes taking an inventory of assets, notifying and paying creditors, etc., and is made available to the public. This way, the privacy of the grantor and their beneficiaries is protected.
Next, it is more effective than having just a Last Will and Testament, since revocable trust gives you, the grantor, an orderly way for your assets to be distributed to your chosen heirs upon your death.
Since you can amend the revocable trust document as many times as you wish, the distribution of assets can be changed as your circumstances change, such as acquiring additional assets. A trustee you named in your trust document will work with the executor of the estate to follow your guidelines when the time comes.
A revocable trust also provides creditor protection for beneficiaries, if the assets remain in the trust upon the passing of the grantor.
Unlike a will, a living trust also covers you while you are still alive.
This means that having a revocable trust may reduce your state estate taxes; especially for families living in a state with an additional estate tax, a well-written revocable trust may provide significant value.
When you move assets into a revocable trust, it will not affect an individual’s federal lifetime gift or estate tax exemption, as it is not considered a gift.
A revocable trust is also beneficial if you have assets in more than one state, since without it, your assets, including real estate, held in more than one state would be subject to a separate probate process for each state.
If you’re an investor with significant assets or assets in more than one state, it’s recommended that you consult with your estate planning attorney to review the benefits of this important estate planning tool. That includes having a complex collection of investments, such as real estate, artwork, and other assets that would be difficult for beneficiaries to distribute.
Finally, assets held in the name of a Revocable Living Trust at the time a person becomes mentally incapacitated can be managed by their Disability Trustee.
This ensure you are in control of who makes decisions for you, instead of a court-supervised guardian or conservator.
Finally, if you’re not sure what the main difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust is: an irrevocable trust cannot be modified or terminated without permission of the beneficiary, meaning once you transfer the assets into the irrevocable trust, it removes all rights of ownership to your trust and assets.
At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts attorneys in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of estate planning documents, including a Revocable Trust.
Take steps to ensure your wishes, interests and assets are protected. Start the New Year right – get a will prepared by a trustworthy and proficient real estate lawyer.
Contact Levin Law Group New York real estate law firm.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
December 21, 2016
New Year is right around the corner, and with it come new beginnings. Are you ready to start a business? Or, are you ready to take your business to a new level? Either way, having a good accountant and a good business lawyer is what every business needs.
End of the year is a perfect time to make sure all your financial, legal, and enterprise matters are in order and well taken care of.
Having a trusted business law attorney on your side is crucial to the success of your business, and it gives you peace of mind knowing your rights and interests are protected.
If you’re thinking of opening a business, thorough preparation is crucial in New York, or any other state, with a multitude of highly important business and legal issues to consider.
We can help you start and continue on the right foot – from business planning to start-up assistance, from capital financing options to legal documents, insurance, and licenses, and everything in between.
Opening a company and running a business can be very exciting, and it can also be overwhelming and seem very complicated. Legal assistance can help you prevent mistakes that can cost you dearly and bring not just financial, but also legal consequences.
While it’s easy to become overwhelmed at the end of the year with holiday stuff and wrapping up your company’s sales and projects, as a business owner you should take time to ensure your business is legally fit for 2017.
Now is a perfect time to tie up any loose ends you’ve been putting off throughout the year.
Does your business need a Fictitious Business Name (or DBA)? Did you obtain a Tax ID number (Employer ID Number)? Are all your necessary business licenses and permits in order?
Understanding New York State licensing and permitting and other requirements in your area is crucial, so you can be sure you are for applying for the right license or permit, as well as the name of your business.
If you haven’t already, make sure you take care of your business’ legal and administrative activities now. By addressing certain issues in 2016, you might be able to save money in fees, taxes, and penalties moving forward.
You may want to consider trademarking the unique name of your business or products, and implement plans to protect any trade secrets.
If you’re in the process of selecting a legal structure for your business, consider carefully. Defining who will own and be legally responsible for your business, and how to file your taxes, and how much liability and risk you want to take on is extremely important. Let our experienced business lawyers help you with figuring out if your business should operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, S-corporation, or C-corporation?
Next, is your business properly registered? Some business owners spend thousands of dollars and years of effort to develop a business, only to find out that it was not properly registered in the first place. Seek legal and business advice first.
Do you currently have confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with anyone your business will come into contact with – a solid, thorough contract to protect you and your business?
Does your business have all the required insurance, such as workers’ compensation, liability, and disability insurance, depending on your structure, location and employees? If not, don’t delay taking steps to protect your business from loss, fines, and lawsuits.
Now is also a good time to make sure your business is protected and your legal bases covered if there are any existing issues or disagreements with a client, supplier, service provider, or your own employee. Your business attorney will ensure there are no legal omissions or errors, and assist you with tight agreements that will protect your rights.
At Levin Law Group, our reputable and skillful business lawyers and corporate attorneys are well equipped to assist you with business laws and customs and provide support with legal challenges when planning, structuring, and conducting business transactions within a wide range of industries.
Take steps now to set yourself up for greater chance of success in 2017 and contact our business law attorneys today – after all, what better gift could you give your business for the New Year?Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
November 30, 2016
The Levin Law Group is pleased to announce the NEW Inclusive Estate Planning Package designed to better serve clients in need of these services. The attorneys at Levin Law Group understand the importance of Estate Planning for families, but realize that many families avoid planning for fear of expenses involved. The Levin Law Group’s new Estate Planning Package seeks to alleviate those fears and meet estate planning needs effectively.
The Levin Law Group’s Estate Planning Package features an affordable price of only $3,995 and includes a revocable trust, a pour over will, a healthcare proxy, a living will and a power of attorney. In addition, Levin Law offers locations conveniently located in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Staten Island, Suffolk, Westchester, as well as North and Central Jersey, so each and every client can access their expertise in Estate Planning.
The attorneys at Levin Law Group are experts in Estate Planning and promise to come alongside clients and explain the nuances of each piece of the Estate Planning Package so every client gains the knowledge and understanding needed to make informed choices. Each Estate Planning Package is tailored to meet the needs of individuals and families with the promise of the highest quality and care in Estate Planning services and the associated expert legal counsel.
“Listening to the concerns of our clients about the cost of estate planning over the years, we decided that creating this package was a must. We are excited to be able to offer this package at an affordable rate so that we can assist as many people as possible with their estate planning needs.” – Yevgeny Levin, Levin Law Group.
The Estate Planning Package includes the necessary documents to protect your beneficiaries, your assets, and your entire estate. At Levin Law, you can expect the expertise, knowledge, and care you desire in planning for the future.
Call on the respected attorneys at Levin Law Group (http://www.YLevinLaw.com) to discuss how the new Estate Planning Package can meet your family’s needs.
Bio: The Levin Law Group of New York makes every effort to deliver on their promise of unparalleled, expert legal services tailored to meet the needs of each distinctive client, expertly and proficiently every time. The Levin Law Group is proud to provide expertise in real estate law, business law, wills, trusts, and estate law.
The original press release can be found here.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
November 15, 2016
Preparing a will is not the most pleasant of tasks, nor is it at the top of most people’s list.
For many, it feels not only like acknowledging your own inevitable end but also like actively planning for it. This is probably why so many adults avoid or postpone this fundamental part of estate planning.
Even though creating a will is one of the most critical things you can do for your loved ones, a survey by AARP showed that 2 out of 5 Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will.
A will is an important way to help ensure that your property goes to exactly who you intend it to go to. Stating your wishes on paper will also help your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles, so by planning in advance you can save your family time and money.
Since the laws vary from state to state, it’s wise to consult with a knowledgeable wills attorney in NYC before you do anything.
Here are top 7 general things to know about writing a will:
- What Is a Will?
It’s a legal document in which you, the testator, declare who will manage your estate after you die.
The person named in the will to manage your last wishes and estate is called the executor. Your estate can consist of anything from a big mansion or a vacation home to trinkets or photographs that hold sentimental value. You can declare who you want to receive specific items that you own, and the person designated to receive any of your property is called a beneficiary.
A will can also state whom you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents.
All wills must meet certain standards such as being witnessed to be legally valid.
Note that some types of property, including certain insurance policies and retirement accounts, generally are not covered by a will.
You should list your beneficiaries when you take out the policies or open the accounts. Make sure it’s all up to date, since what you have on file when you die should dictate who receives those assets.
- What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
When there’s no valid will, your estate will usually be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what. That’s called intestate.
Probate is the legal process of transferring the property to the rightful heirs.
When there’s no named executor, a judge appoints an administrator. This also happens if a will is deemed to be invalid. Requirements vary from state to state.
An administrator will most likely be a stranger to you and your family, and they may make decisions that wouldn’t necessarily align with your wishes or those of your heirs.
- Do I Need an Attorney to Prepare My Will?
You are not required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will, although an experienced lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies, such as living trusts, and make sure that your will meets the legal requirements of your state. Consider seeking an estate lawyer for a free consultation.
While you’re creating or updating your will, think about preparing other essential estate-planning documents, such as financial and health care powers of attorney to ensure that your wishes are carried out while you’re still alive.
- Who Should I Name as My Executor?
Your spouse, an adult child, or another trusted friend or relative could be named an executor of your will.
However, if your affairs are complicated, you may want to consider naming an attorney or someone with legal and financial expertise. Also, you can name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.
One of the most important things your will can do is empower your executor to settle any bills or debt you may have, so it’s crucial that your will clearly allows for this.
- Where Should I Keep My Will?
It’s important to keep your will in a safe yet accessible place, especially since a probate court usually requires your original will before it can process your estate.
If your will is kept in a bank safe deposit box that only you have access to, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. A good alternative is a waterproof and fireproof safe in your house.
Also, your attorney or someone you trust should keep signed copies. This would help in case the original is destroyed to establish your intentions; however, the absence of an original will can complicate matters, leaving no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you’d hoped.
- How Often Does a Will Need to be Updated?
It’s really up to you – that your will may never need to be updated, or you may choose to update it regularly.
The only version of your will that matters is the one that is most current and valid at the time of your death.
It may be a good idea to revisit your will at times of major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance.
Also, you might still need to name guardians if you have any disabled dependents.
Just to be safe, review your will every two or three years.
- Who Has the Right to Contest My Will?
Contesting a will means challenging the legal validity of all or part of the document, and a beneficiary who feels slighted by the terms of a will could choose to contest it.
Also, depending on the state, a spouse, ex-spouse or child who believes your stated wishes go against local probate laws may contest your will.
Other reasons a will could be contested include that it wasn’t properly witnessed; you weren’t competent when you signed it; it’s the result of coercion or fraud – and it’s commonly up to a probate judge to settle the dispute. The best defense is always a clearly drafted and validly executed will.
It is never too early or too late to begin thinking about a last will and estate planning, and making one is usually a rather simple and inexpensive process, especially considering that it can give you peace of mind, and save your family time, money and grief.
At the Levin Law Group, our experienced wills and trusts attorneys in New York will assist you in advising and preparing a wide range of estate planning documents.
We invite you to contact us so we can help you take steps to ensure your wishes, interests, and assets are protected. Get a will prepared by a trustworthy trust and wills attorney in NYC.
For an estate lawyer free consultation – contact Levin Law Group today.
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October 17, 2016
Buying a home is very exciting, but it can also be overwhelming and even nerve-wracking.
When you’re in the market to buy a property, you are already facing so many complex transactions, and it can be easy to disregard the homeowner’s insurance process, especially for first-time buyers.
Your mortgage lender will most likely require you to have homeowner’s insurance, so it’s important to factor it in when calculating monthly mortgage payments.
As vital it is to know your rights and the legal issues involved in residential real estate transactions, such as disclosures, purchase contracts, potential title defects, zoning issues, and taxes, it’s also important to take steps to ensure that, if something happens to your home, you are covered.
Also, New York’s real estate laws and practices in some respects are different than in other states, particularly for co-ops or condos, so it’s wise to get well informed and seek help from qualified professionals.
Here are some insurance tips to keep in mind when buying a house:
- Contact at least three companies to compare coverage.
You are not required to buy from a particular insurance company, so do compare coverage, price and customer reviews. Your home is a big investment and an asset, so shop for value, not necessarily rock-bottom price.
- Get adequate coverage.
You may be required to purchase additional insurance, such as flood insurance, so be sure you get the right type and amount of coverage. The most important part is the level of coverage, but avoid paying for more than you need.
- Understand the details and terms of your policy.
Before you make a decision, understand what exactly your homeowner’s insurance policy brings, and how all the terms work together. Ask questions, and if needed, seek professional help, to ensure you have the right amount of coverage at the right price!
- Escrow your home insurance payments with your mortgage payments.
Most homeowners bundle monthly insurance payments onto their mortgage check. Lenders prefer to set it up so that your escrow account pays for your insurance premiums, as this shows your insurance premiums are being paid, and their investment is well protected. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for one year of home insurance at closing.
- Consider raising the deductible.
Higher deductibles equal reduced premiums: a homeowner willing to take a greater portion of the risk by agreeing to pay a higher deductible in the event of a claim, will pay a much lower premium. Since insurance should only be used for catastrophic events and never for small claims, it makes sense to have a higher deductible.
- Consider installing a security system.
While smoke detectors have become a standard safety feature in new homes and should be installed in older homes, also having a security system that is monitored by a central station alarm company or notifies the police directly will typically provide a 5% discount. They may not only save a life but could also reduce the cost of your home insurance.
- Bundle Policies and purchase an umbrella policy.
Bundle insurance policies together (auto, business, and life) – it can save you on annual premiums.
One of the most cost effective ways to ensure better insurance coverage for your entire family is to purchase an Umbrella Policy. It will give you greater personal coverage, protection of your secondary home(s), automobile injury protection, and protection from certain lawsuits.
- Have the right team of professionals on your side.
Experienced and trustworthy real estate professionals and a seasoned real estate lawyer will certainly help smooth out the process of purchasing a home.
A home is a major investment, and real estate transactions involve real property law, so to make sure your interests and rights are protected – have a real estate lawyer to guide you and help prevent many legal consequences that can happen during the process.
When searching for top New York real estate law firms, trust the Levin Law Group’s skilled and dependable real estate attorneys to assist you with a wide spectrum of residential and commercial real estate transactions throughout New York State and New Jersey.
Contact Levin Law Group real estate law firm today.Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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