Category Archives: real estate

Who has Legal Authority to Sign a Deed?

The Facts: Last year my aunt Sue died without a Will. She was widowed and owned a house that had been in our family for generations. The understanding was that when she died, the next generation, including me and my siblings, would inherit the house. Recently, my aunt’s daughter, Mary, signed a deed transferring the […]

Can I Sell My Father’s Vacation Home?

The Facts: In his Will my father names me as the executor of his estate. I filed a petition in the surrogate’s court to be appointed executor and have been issued letters testamentary. In addition to his home in New York, my father owned a vacation home in Florida which I need to sell. The […]

Is a Life Estate the Way to Go?

The Facts: Many of my friends have told me that I should transfer my house to my son and retain a life estate. The Questions:  What are the pros and cons of doing that? The Answer: People often transfer their property to their children and create life estates because they believe it is the best […]

The differences between joint tenancy and tenancy in common

The Facts:  After my husband died, I remarried a wonderful man named Joe. Joe had been married before and had 3 children with his first wife. Since Joe moved into my house and was helping to pay the carrying costs, I decided to add Joe as an owner on the deed to my house. Shortly […]

Children’s expectations

THE FACTS: My husband and I are in our sixties and have three grown children. All were given the same opportunities growing up, but they did not all take advantage of those opportunities or make wise decisions about their futures. Our two daughters are financially secure and doing very well. Our son, however, has struggled […]

The Ins & Outs of Life Estates

The Facts: My mother deeded her house to my brother, Joe, and I and retained a life estate. The Questions: Can Joe and I sell the house to pay for our mother’s care? The Answer: You and your brother can sell the house but, only with your mother’s consent. Based upon her life estate, your […]

When does a real estate agent earn her commission?

The Facts: I recently listed my house for sale with a real estate agent and signed a brokerage agreement. Someone offered the full asking price for the house. My attorney forwarded a contract of sale to the potential buyer’s attorney. Although the potential buyer had the assets needed to purchase my house, he insisted that […]

Is a Boundary Line Agreement Needed?

The Facts: I am selling my house. A number of years ago I replaced the fence that enclosed my back yard. The person who is buying my house had my property surveyed and it appears that the fence is about 3 feet inside my property line. The title company is requiring me to obtain a […]

Beware of Property Deed Scam

I generally do not revisit a topic if I have discussed it in a prior article. However, based on the number of phone calls I’ve received from clients in response to alarming solicitations they’ve received in the mail, I am making an exception this month. It has been almost three years since I first warned […]

Joint Ownership of Real Estate: How Does It Work?

At least once a week a new client who owns real property with someone else comes to my office with a question about his rights and obligations with respect to his joint ownership of the property. Oftentimes the questions arise because the owners do not see eye to eye as to who is responsible for […]

Some Implications of a Life Estate

The Facts: My father has decided to gift his house to me and my brother and to retain a life estate for himself. This is part of his Medicaid planning. The Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of making this transfer? The Answer: The advantages of putting the house in your names now is […]

Help With A Property Dispute

The Facts: I bought my boyhood home from my parents when they moved into a 55 and over community. The house was built by my parents in the 1980’s. Despite the fact that the driveway is in the same location now as it was when the house was first built, my neighbor brought over a […]

What Should I Look For When Retaining An Attorney?

My husband and I are buying our first house and we want to make sure our attorney works in our best interest. What should we look for when retaining an attorney? When choosing an attorney you want to be sure that the attorney has experience with residential real estate transactions.  The less real estate experience […]

Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common: Which is Right for Me?

There are a number of ways in which individuals can take title to property. People who are not married to each other can own real property as tenants-in-common (TIC) or as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Co-owners who are TIC each own a share of the real property and have the right to sell […]

Estate Planning With a Trust and Life Estate

The Facts: My father is planning on putting his house into an irrevocable trust and naming me as trustee. He will be naming my sister and me as beneficiaries of the trust. The Questions: Can my father sell his house once it is in the trust? If my father goes into a nursing home, can […]

Here’s to the Older Americans in my LIfe….

May is Older Americans Month.  Since 1963 when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May to be “Senior Citizens Month”, May has been the month in which communities across the nation acknowledge the important contributions older Americans have made and continue to make to our country.  In 1980 President Jimmy Carter changed the designation to “Older […]

There are Always Strings Attached….

Thinking about putting your children’s name on the deed to your house? Think again. Although giving your children your house and reserving for yourself a life estate may seem like an excellent strategy to avoid probate, there are significant downsides. The most obvious is the loss of control. Once you put your children’s names on […]

Should I Retain a Buyer’s Agent?

Facts: We are thinking about buying our first home. A number of people told us we should engage a buyer’s agent to assist us. Question: Is that really necessary? Answer: Although having a buyer’s agent is not “necessary,” there are many good reasons for engaging a buyer’s agent. Buyer’s agents are defined in the NYS […]

A Healthcare Proxy is Not Enough

The Facts: I thought that the only legal document I would need in the event of a medical emergency was a healthcare proxy. However a friend told me that a power of attorney (“POA”) can play a critical role in a medical emergency. The Question: Is this true? The Answer: Absolutely! While the person you […]

Do I Need a Certified Deed?

The Facts: I recently received a letter from a company suggesting that I should have a certified copy of my deed. The company offered to get the deed for me for about $85. The Question: Is this a scan? The Answer: Yes, it is a scam and one that is quite lucrative for the company making the offer. […]

Should the House be Put in an Irrevocable Trust?

The Facts: My elderly father is putting his house into an irrevocable trust and naming me and my brother as beneficiaries of the trust. The Questions: If my father decides to move out of his house, will we be able to sell the house while my father is still alive? Would it be better if my father […]

What is Title Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

The Question: I am buying my first house and was told I need to get title insurance. What is title insurance and do I need it? The Answer:  That interest may take many forms including an ownership interest or a judgment or lien against the property. While you are not required by law to purchase title […]

Eviction: What Tenants and Landlords Need to Know

Every news outlet has featured stories about the home foreclosure crisis but, little attention has been paid to the impact of the economic downturn on the residential rental market. Unfortunately, both landlords and tenants have been adversely impacted by job losses, as well as a marked decrease in the value of real estate. Whether you […]

Options for Seniors to Terminate Their Residential Lease

Facts: I have a two year lease on the apartment where I live. Due to my deteriorating health, I want to move into an assisted living facility. Question: Can my landlord insist that I pay the rest of the money due on my lease? Answer:Depending on your age and the circumstances of your move, you may be […]

Who is the Record Owner of Your Property?

With low interest rates and a glut of properties on the market, an increasing number of clients are looking to purchase real property. Many of those clients are purchasing the property with friends and family members and have questions about how best to take title to the property. Since joint ownership of property can take […]

Children From a Prior Marriage & Property Ownership

The Facts: My father had a daughter, Jane, from a prior marriage. He and Jane did not stay in touch. Since he wanted me to have his house after his death and wanted to avoid probate, my father put my name on the deed to his house after my mother’s death. The deed does not identify […]

Is This a Good Time to Buy a House?

The Facts: My husband and I are thinking about buying our first house. The Question: Is this a good time to buy? The Answer: Absolutely! Inventory is high, interest rates are low and Congress has just extended the Homebuyers Tax Credit bill. Under the new bill, even people who are not first time buyers may be eligible for […]

Should I Put My Son’s Name on My Deed?

The Facts: Since my son is gong to inherit my house when I die, I was thinking about putting his name on the deed now as a joint tenant with right of survivorship so he would not have to probate my Will. The Questions: What are the pros and cons of doing this? The Answer: If your only […]

What Does it Mean to be Tenants in Common?

The Facts: My friend Mary and I purchased a house together and are named on the deed as tenants-in-common. We each contributed $150,000 to the purchase price, have both lived in the house and have split the carrying costs equally. Recently we had a falling out and I moved out of the house. I want to […]

What Constitutes Imprudent Management?

It is well-settled that executors and other fiduciaries such as attorneys-in-fact are required to handle the assets under their control in a reasonable and prudent fashion. When a fiduciary crosses the line either by failing to act, or by engaging in imprudent management of assets, he risks being relieved of his authority to act and […]

A Winding Road From Biology

Linda Toga, the new president of the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association, has followed a twisting path. The New Jersey native attended college in Maine before earning a master’s degree in biology – with a concentration in electron microscopy – from Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She was involved in early neurological […]