The first question I often hear when I mention Estate Planning is "what's that"?
The answer involves the inevitable: passing from this earth to whatever we believe is next. The morbidity of this subject often times halts the mind and heart's willingness to consider and plan for this. It's understandable from many different perspectives.
However, we all need to deal with subjects that make us uncomfortable in the best interests of our loved ones. This is where Estate Planning steps in.
Estate Planning is a methodical and detail oriented process in which I work with you and your loved ones to ensure that all of your hard earned assets are passed down to the proper individual or individuals, in the most efficient, timely and cost effective manner. This process can also include things that worth more than tangible assets like declaring who will act as a guardian for a child and particular instructions on how to raise a child.
The speed by which an Estate Plan can be devised depends largely on a client's needs and whether specific Estate Planning tools like Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts are necessary. The cost also varies accordingly. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I'm ready to work at the speed necessary to achieve your goals and at a reasonable fee that won't leave you questioning whether this is worth it. At the end of the day, it's advisable that almost everyone have some level of an Estate Plan in the best interests of their loved ones.
Residential Real Estate
Purchasing and selling a home is a monumental moment in one's life. It represents a new chapter filled with optimism, excitement and obligations.
The process normally starts with putting your home on the market or putting yourself on the market as a buyer. An excellent real estate agent assists with this along with finding a buyer or a home that meets your needs and expectations.
I customarily step in after a contract is signed. The standard real estate contract that most real estate agents use allows a 5 business day window for an attorney to review and request modifications to the contract. This applies to any term in the contract but for the purchase price. The standard real estate contract also allows a 5 business day window for the buyer to retain a qualified home inspector and conduct an inspection. The results of this inspection presents an opportunity to negotiate with the seller to receive repairs/replacements and/or credit.
In the meantime, if you're a buyer and need financing, then the process of securing a loan starts with either a full or limited review depending on the home being purchased and down payment %.
The day the transaction is executed, also known as "Closing," is the day in which money is exchanged, loan documents are signed and keys are turned over.
Needless to say, this process takes time particularly if a buyer requires financing. On average, it will take approximately 30-45 days from the day the contract is signed to Closing if a buyer requires financing. A cash deal can reach Close within days of the contract being signed. In addition, there are multiple angles in which a buyer or seller can save money in this process. I know where and how to do this. I can also help you protect your privacy, both online and on official county records, in keeping your name off as the owner of the property on all internet search engines and public records. This may be of particular importance if you work in a profession in which personal privacy is treasured.
My fees for representing a buyer or seller vary. I encourage you to reach out to me to secure the best fee for you and I can explain, in detail, the process of buying or selling a home.
Commercial Real Estate
A commercial real estate transaction represents the conveyance of a property and any improvements on that property (think of a vacant lot improved with a building and parking lot). This is separate from the sale and acquisition of the business itself. For example, a veterinarian who owns an animal hospital (the business) and the property the business operates on (the land), must engage in two separate transactions if he/she wishes to sell both the business and land. Likewise, a buyer must engage in two transactions as well. For the purposes of this explanation, I will focus solely on a land or property transaction.
Commercial properties are unique because there are some areas of diligence that are not shared by a residential real estate transaction. One of these is ensuring an environmental Phase I study is conducted to investigate the usage history of the property. If there's any indication that the property was used for a purpose that may lead to an environmental contamination, a Phase II environmental study is highly recommended. A Phase II test involves soil samples from various areas of the property and testing to determine contamination.
Like a residential real estate transaction, a building inspection should also be conducted to determine what repairs/replacements are necessary to ensure the building is in good condition.
In addition, proper diligence may also require a thorough examination of financial statements and leases if the property is occupied by tenants. Often times, the prospect of purchasing a property with a commercial tenant presents an advantage due to the expected stream of revenue from day 1; however, it's imperative to examine the details of that lease and how that tenant is performing as a part of one's diligence. Likewise, it's imperative that a seller have this information prepared to turn over to the buyer.
I encourage you to contact me if you are looking to buy or sell a commercial property. There are a host of issues to investigate and prepare to ensure a quick and smooth transaction.
A small business represents the quintessential dream of achieving a level of freedom that working for a large corporation cannot replicate. In exchange for that level of control comes legal responsibilities to your clients, employees and to yourself that I can help you with.
Normally, the first step in opening a small business, after deciding on the nature of the business itself, is forming the proper legal entity for your purpose. This will vary on whether partners are involved and the nature of the business. Some options include limited liability companies (LLC's), limited liability partnerships (LLP's) and a corporation (Inc.). At the same time, funding from partners or investors should be lined up with a determination on how much equity will be given in exchange for an investment. Shareholder certificates, capitalization tables and operating agreements/bylaws are necessary depending on which entity is appropriate for your business.
The next legal step usually involves contracts: leases, purchase agreements, client agreements and employer/employee agreements, etc. These contracts will form the basis for your business's relationship to its clients, vendors, employees and landlord if you're renting a physical location for your business. At the same time, a domain name and social medial accounts should be locked into place. I can review and draft all of these contracts and assist with securing internet and social media pages.
A new business will require a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and a business bank account. Both of these are legal in nature. For example, a bank will require proof of an operating agreement and bylaws for a limited liability company prior to opening an account.
Business safety is a significant issue that often times gets overlooked. This means compliance with Federal/State/City regulations. This includes obtaining the proper business license and corresponding liability insurance and worker's compensation insurance if necessary.
None of this takes into account the day to day issues that may arise in a workplace like employee misconduct, client liability and non-payment.
Needless to say, owning and operating a small business can be rewarding and grueling, particularly the administration of it. Please reach out to me if you have any questions regarding this and I will work to find a solution that address the issues now and moving forward to give you peace of mind.