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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Homebuyers Need an Attorney

For many individuals, buying a home is the single largest financial transaction they will engage in during their lifetime. While some may think that they got it alone, an experienced attorney can help to avoid any pitfalls and protect the buyer’s interests.

Although buyers are primarily concerned with the price and the location, there are are number of other considerations. This includes the condition of the home, negotiating the sales contract, resolving potential title issues, and arranging for financing. In short, not having proper legal representation can ultimately be a costly mistake.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

10 Reasons for Staten Island’s Real Estate Boom

Q: Why are Staten Island real estate values increasing?

Staten Island residential real estate values are soaring. We previously reported on how The New York Wheel project is anticipated to lure Manhattan tourists’ attention and money here. But there are many other reasons why Staten Island is really becoming the place to be for residents and businesses alike.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Your Estate Plan Should Include Advance Medical Directives

There are a number of objectives to estate planning, not the least of which are protecting your legacy and providing for your loved ones. At the same time, it is also important that you plan for type of medical treatment you should receive be in the event that an accident or illness leaves you mentally or physically incapacitated.   

What is a healthcare proxy?

A health care proxy is also referred to as a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This document allows you to designate someone you trust, such as a spouse, a parent, an adult child, or a close  friend, to make medical decisions according to your preferences. This person will act as your agent and coordinate your treatment with your doctor when you are not capable of making these decisions or speaking for yourself.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples

What estate planning tools should same-sex couples use to protect themselves and their family?

Estate planning is a crucial step for all couples, but for same-sex couples, creating a thorough estate plan is all the more important.  Same-sex couples often have unique situations that require careful planning.  While the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally in the United States in 2015, the prior patchwork of state laws still impacts estate planning for same-sex couples today. 

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ensure Your Compliance with ADA Laws with a Real Estate Lawyer

What steps can I take to make sure my new building meets ADA requirements without excessive costs to renovate?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990.  This civil rights law prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals.  For businesses, this often requires making modifications to an existing building in order to ensure disabled individuals have full access to the business.  Making ADA accommodations can be expensive and time consuming.  While most business owners are aware of the ADA, few understand their full potential obligations under the law.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What a Homebuyer Should Look for in a Real Estate Contract

If you are buying a home, you will need to enter into a purchase and sale contract with the seller, which is typically a standard document prepared by the real estate agent. Nonetheless, it is important to have an experienced real estate attorney review the contract to ensure that your interests are protected.

Real Estate Contracts 101

There are a number of essential elements that must be included in a real estate contract. As you know, buying a home requires obtaining a mortgage loan to finance the purchase, and getting approved for a loan can be a difficult process that is often met with unexpected delays.

For this reason, it is important that the contract explicitly states that the deal is contingent on your loan application being approved.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Probate: An Overview of Letters Testamentary

An individual who has been named as the executor in a will has a number of important duties that are centered on collecting the decedent's property and transferring it to the rightful heirs through probate. This is a court-supervised process that governs how an estate is managed and distributed.

How is the Probate Process Started?

Before the probate is opened, the person named as the executor in the will must obtain Letters Testamentary. This is a legal document that gives the executor legal authority to carry out his or her duties, including:

  • Collecting and inventorying the estate assets
  • Having the assets appraised
  • Paying valid debts to creditors
  • Filing the decedent's final income taxes
  • Paying applicable estate taxes
  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries

In order to obtain this document, the executor needs to petition the surrogate court in the county in which the decedent lived. This requires submitting the death certificate with the court clerk as well as completing an application.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Pitfalls to Avoid in a Commercial Lease in NY

Do I need a real estate lawyer to review my commercial lease?

Signing a lease on a building is often one of the most critical first steps to starting your successful new business.  By signing a commercial lease, you will obligate yourself to pay large sums of money for several years to come.  Given the seriousness of your lease obligations, and the fact that most leases will be written pro-landlord, it is critical that your Staten Island real estate attorney review your lease with an eye for the following potential lease traps: 

  1. Personal guarantees:  A personal guarantee will obligate you to pay the lease balance in the event your business does not succeed.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Look at Irrevocable Trusts

Should my estate plan include an irrevocable trust?

While clients often come to us for assistance with creating a will, we also design estate plans that consider other estate planning objectives, particularly asset protection, minimizing taxes, and providing for loved ones. In these situations, many individuals are well served by establishing an irrevocable trust.

What is an Irrevocable Trust?

An irrevocable trust is one that becomes effective during a person's lifetime, however, unlike a revocable trust, it cannot be amended or modified. The trust maker (or grantor) permanently transfers property into the trust so that he or she no longer owns the property. Instead, a trustee is designated to manage the assets for the beneficiaries.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Updating an Estate Plan After a Divorce

How will a divorce affect my estate plan?

In our last blog post, we wrote about the importance of having an estate plan, but there are a number of lifestyle changes that may require modifications to your plan, not the least of which is getting a divorce. Because a marital break-up is a difficult and confusing experience, it helps to have an objective estate planning attorney at the ready to make the necessary changes to your essential documents.

Although some documents cannot be revised until the divorce is settled, it is important to make plans as the case is proceeding and tackle any issues that may affect your estate.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Trusts and Estate Planning

 A trust is a valuable legal tool that can have numerous benefits. To create a trust, a person, referred to as the “settlor” or grantor,” transfers assets into the trust to be managed by a trustee for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. When putting an asset in trust, you are actually transferring ownership of the asset from you personally to the trust. Some trust benefits include, reducing estate tax liability, protecting your estate property, avoiding probate, and protecting your assets from your creditors or the creditors of your heirs.

The knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at the Law Firm of Merlino & Gonzalez are here to create an estate plan that maximizes the benefits for you and your family.

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