Do I need a real estate attorney to buy a house?

In the purchase or sale of real estate in New Hampshire, an attorney can fulfill two different functions:

1.       Handling the title search, escrow of funds, handling of the closing, and issuance of title insurance (the same function as a title company); and/or

2.       Representing the Buyer or Seller in the transaction.

Many people don’t know that attorneys in New Hampshire can handle all that is needed for the closing of real property, and generally do so at comparable prices to title companies. Many closing costs such as title insurance premiums, taxes, and recording fees are fixed no matter where a closing takes place.

When there are problems or legal questions that arise during the course of a real estate transaction, real estate agents and title companies are not allowed to give legal advice to their clients. Thus, one of the main advantages to having an attorney handle the closing is that the attorney can assist with potential legal questions and needs that may arise, such as deviations from the standard realtor purchase and sale agreement form, questions on how to take title, and forming LLCs or trusts to take title under.

If you are represented by a real estate agent, our office can serve as an inexpensive supplement to review a proposed purchase and sale agreement and make sure nothing additional should be added or tweaked, or we can simply handle the closing for you. For buyers who are not represented by a real estate agent, our office can assist you in drafting a proposing a purchase and sale agreement, represent you while you are under contract, and handle all of the title and escrow for you and the seller to get you through closing.

If you are considering buying a house or other real property, or are under contract to do so, please contact our office to see if we might be of assistance to you. We handle both residential and commercial real estate transactions.

2019 Estate Plan Update

Last Will & Testament.jpg

At this time of the year, we like to remind our clients to take a look at their existing estate plans to evaluate whether any changes are needed. In general, we recommend that you undertake at least a cursory review of your current estate plan on an annual basis. A more in-depth review is necessary if there have been significant changes in your personal or financial circumstances, or if your goals for the distributions of assets has changed since your current estate plan was established.

The following questions may be useful as you consider your current estate plan:

1.       Is there a change in your family situation? (births, marriages, divorces, deaths)

2.       Has the size of your estate changed substantially?

3.       If you have a trust in place, have all of your newly acquired property and accounts been titled correctly?

4.       Are your beneficiary designations current?

5.       If you own a business, do you have a plan for your business succession when you will be stepping out, or when you pass away?

6.       Are there any changes necessary to the people you named as power of attorney, executor, guardian of your minor children, successor trustee, and agent for healthcare decisions?

 

As for taxes, there is not much change that will affect estate plans in New Hampshire. The following is the summary of the New Hampshire and federal estate and gift tax amounts for 2019:

New Hampshire Estate and Gift Tax Laws:

·         New Hampshire still does not levy any tax on estates or gifts.

Changes to Federal Estate and Gift Tax Laws:

·         Federal Exemption Amount. The per person lifetime exemption for estate, gift, and GST taxes has increased to $11,400,000 (up from $11,180,000 in 2018). The top marginal rate remains at 40%. Thus, married couples with proper estate planning will be able to transfer $22,800,000 free of federal estate tax.

·         Annual Gift Exclusion Amount. The annual gift exclusion amount remains at $15,000 per recipient. This is the amount each individual can gift to any number of individual recipients without reducing his lifetime federal exemption amount.

If you already have an estate plan set up with us, making changes is generally straight forward and much less costly than the initial setup of the plan. Please feel free to contact us if you know of any changes you would like to make, or if you have any questions about whether changes might be needed.

Grand Opening & Open House

Yesterday we had our Grand Opening here at 16 Depot Street, and we had a great turnout.

We were joined by the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce for our ribbon cutting ceremony around 11:00 a.m. and then we were able to meet many members of the community who stopped in to visit.

Although we have been operating on some level as we've brought everything online over the last few months, it is great to have our official launch day behind us.

We are thankful to everyone who has helped us get to this point, and we thank everyone who was able to make it out yesterday. May this be the start of a very long endeavor, and may we be of service to Wolfeboro and the Lakes Region for years to come.