HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY
A real estate attorney is a crucial partner for every individual. How do you choose the right one, for you?
From buying a house and protecting your own home, to leasing business premises, investing and planning for your legacy and future family estate, an attorney is key. They can keep you safe, protect you from liability, and not only help keep your income up, and wealth growing, but play a big role in ensuring you pass those assets on as you hope to.
Find a Specialist
Not just any lawyer will do. You really need an expert. A professional with experience, who really specializes in this area. You don’t want someone who offers to take on any time of legal case, and just accepts real estate related work because they can, and for the money. Find a pro.
Make sure you know the exact person/s that will be handling your needs. Today there are many big firms, or even marketing companies who farm out work. You might be drawn by the reputation of one real estate attorney, only to get pawned off on someone new, and an inefficient assistant or paralegal, right when it matters. You can’t afford that. Know exactly who you’ll work with.
Find the Right Match
The ‘best’ legal help, is the professional that is the best match for you. Everyone is different, and has different needs, circumstances, and budgets.
Look for someone who is in alignment with your values, plans, and goals. If you don’t, you could be fighting with your own real estate attorney more than anyone else. Will they go all the way and litigate if needed, or not? Are they ok with, and understand your plans, strategies, and tactics? Will they happily defend them?
Find someone who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but that you can also get along with.
The Best You Can Afford
With so much on the line, this is not the place to skimp. A good real estate lawyer can save you $10,000 in an hour with a phone call or a letter being sent out. Don’t overpay, or sign up with a law firm you simply can’t afford. Yet, look for the best you can. They will more than pay for themselves.
How to Find the Best Real Estate Attorney
Referrals are one of the best ways to find any professional service. Do you know other family members or investors who can recommend a great attorney? Of course, that doesn’t always work in the legal field, as you might have a conflict of interest, or not want those people to know who your attorney is yet, and all about your business. Another option is to ask other local real estate professionals. What is the reputation of different firms within the industry, with judges, and paralegals, and real estate agents? Always vet them yourself too. Google them, check their reputation with the state bar association, and interview them personally.
For recommendations to the top NYC real estate attorneys we’ve screened and used, click here.
WILLS VS. TRUSTS VS. POAS
How do these estate planning and protection tools work to help? How do they differ?
Legal documents are among the most important tools for effective estate planning. Without the right ones in place efforts to build and maintain wealth, and to pass along assets and income to heirs can be greatly hampered. So, what are the bare minimum vehicles and structures which individuals and families need in order to properly and effectively preserve and growth wealth, and optimize succession plans?
Wills are one of the most basic, core documents everyone should have. Without it you can almost guarantee that passing along assets is going to be more expensive, less reliable, and more emotionally stressful, than if you have one done well.
A Last Will and Testament dictates the wishes of the benefactor in how they wish their estate, real estate and other property and assets to be distributed after they pass on. This can be very simple depending on how much you have, and the complexity of how assets are held. What’s important is that you have one made as soon as possible. Adjustments can always be made over time.
Note that it is important to consult an attorney to understand the limitations of what you can do in a will according to local laws, and what will ensure it is legal and enforceable.
There are many types of trusts and variations of them. A trust is a highly desirable addition to a will for many reasons. A will alone can mean public and outside meddling in an estate, and involving courts and judges. There can be high costs of third party control of assets and conservatorship. A properly structured trust can help avoid this, avoid the lengthy probate process which can leave heirs in the lurch, and protect flexibility and confidentiality.
Note that having good corporate and legal business structures for holding other assets, ventures, and real estate can also be important for streamlined succession, reducing taxes, and ensuring efficiency and optimizing what is transferred.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Many of the above solutions work for when you pass away. We all will one day. However, it is far more common for people to be injured, incapacitated, or declared incompetent. This is often precursor to passing away, but may be temporary or last years. Without clear Powers of Attorney, assets, businesses, and other personal property, and medical decisions can be mismanaged, wind up in the courts, be made difficult in being made public, and can generally cause a lot of stress and unnecessary loss. With as complicated as our judicial and healthcare system is today, it is vital to have clean and clear lines of authority for decision making in these situations. This should not only cover the head of the household, but other family members who may hold title to assets, businesses, and bank accounts as well.
Make sure you are well covered by all of these tools as soon as possible.
7 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN HIRING AN ESTATE ATTORNEY
What should you be looking for when hiring an attorney for your estate?
Securing a great attorney to craft wills and trusts, and to help with your estate planning is very important and necessary. However, who you choose can make a significant difference in how well your intentions and interests are protected and executed on. So, what do you look for?
Law is a lucrative industry, so it’s no wonder all types of people want to be in it. Always first make sure your short-list of lawyers is legally able to provide the services they are promoting. The American Bar Association and New York State Bar Association are two resources for helping with that.
Look for a specialist in what you need help with. There are all types of attorneys. Criminal defense attorneys, injury law attorneys, real estate attorneys, tax lawyers, corporate law firms, and more. There are some which try to cover broad menus of services to get the most clients. Others specialize in certain areas like family law, asset protection, etc. Get an expert.
3. Trusted & Proficient
It’s so easy to throw up a website and get a business phone number or fancy mailing address these days. So, look for referrals and online reviews, or complaints when evaluating your options.
Some law firms are clearly much stronger than others. You want one which will be around to keep helping your family when you need it most. While some lawyers cost more than others, you might be surprised at what just dropping their name, or a letter head with their name on it can do compared to cheap options. Get the best legal assistance you can afford.
You want options. Like accountants on taxes and various corporate entity selections, bankers on mortgages, and even doctors on medical treatment; lawyers can have their favorite strategies and tools too. But, you should be presented all your options.
6. Shared Values
Some clients may only care about securing the most effective legal representation. That’s understandable. However, you’ll find everything flows better if you find an attorney who shares your values as well.
7. Who You Will Actually Deal With
One of the frustrating quirks of today’s legal industry is that you often don’t end up working with the face on the billboard. Too often clients are signed up and shuffled over to a brand new recruit. You want to know exactly who will be helping you and working on your cases.
If you are looking for an attorney in NYC check this page for some of those we recommend.
ESSENTIAL MOVES FOR PROTECTING YOUR ESTATE
Essential Moves for Protecting Your Estate
Building up a business, portfolio, and estate to pass on is only part of the deal. Ask any experienced investor or executive and they’ll tell you that it is far easier to make a million, than to keep a million. What can and should you and your family be doing to preserve your wealth, assets, and gains?
Attorneys often get a bad rap, but you don’t want to be caught without a good one in your corner. Whether it is battling over a real estate deal, getting a partner to perform, of fending off a malicious lawsuit, you want the best defense you can afford. Rather than waiting until there is an issue to go hunt for help, it pays to have a strong law firm on retainer in advance. In America’s highly litigious environment it is not a matter of if you’ll need one, but when. Often just having a well-respected and feared attorney on call can deflect and deter many attempts to come after a share of your finances.
Legal Entities & Paperwork
While it may sound ironic; a piece of paper is often your best protection for your physical assets, real estate investments, and finances. Aside from the will, there are LLCs, trusts, and other entities and legal structures which can provide privacy and a shelter. Get them, use them well, and make sure you make no accounting blunders which could allow predatory law firms to ‘pierce the corporate veil’.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats that business owners, real estate investors, NYC landlords and wealthy families is frivolous and opportunistic lawsuits. It’s the American way. Thousands and thousands of suits are filed just to take advantage of others. We can’t change that mindset overnight. We can regularly use out right to vote and change the law. We can change the loop holes, make sure it isn’t too easy to victimize the innocent, and make it less attractive for law firms to hop from one trend to the next and seduce the masses into being so fast to sue. Use your right to vote at every level to protect yourself and your heirs.
Watch Your Taxes
If you aren’t careful taxes will eat it all up. There are estate taxes, capital gains taxes, taxes on investment income, property taxes, self-employment taxes, sales taxes, and more. Voting smart can help here too. So, can good accounting and selecting a great CPA who won’t leave you exposed to audits or the wrong type of attention from the IRS. Don’t forget to leverage legal tax shelters either. This includes vehicles such as self-directed retirement accounts and 1031 exchanges.