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Bronx Real Estate Law Blog

Wills among important estate plan components

Those who are not necessarily well-to do-in New York may not see the need for engaging in estate planning. However, wills are essential no matter what one's net worth is. Other estate planning documents are also important to include in a comprehensive plan.

Even those who might not necessarily be well off may have valuable items they would like to protect long term, such as family heirlooms, jewelry, cars and houses. These items can be addressed in a will, which explains who should receive them in the event that the owner of these assets passes away. Other items that are important to address in a will include 403(b) or 401(k) plan accounts, investment and bank accounts.

Wills, trusts needed for the not-so-rich and not-so-famous, too

A common misconception is that estate planning in New York is only for those who are famous and rich. The truth is that all individuals who have assets may benefit from creating wills that explain how these possessions are to be distributed when they pass away. Such assets can include a house, a savings account or a 401(k) account.

The stakes remain high when it comes to estate planning. During the next three or four decades, a whopping $30 trillion worth of nonfinancial and financial assets are anticipated to move from the hands of baby boomers to their loved ones. Even for those who plan to leave their property to their children, they may want to take specific precautions to ensure that the children do not waste it, as not everybody is a good money manager.

Is real estate a viable retirement plan?

Maybe you are one of those people who makes a detailed to-do list every day and goes to sleep at night content with the thought that you completed every item on the list. More than likely, you are like most people who end up stopping at the drug store for a card on your spouse's birthday and racing through the stores on Christmas Eve. You have good intentions, but time just gets away from you.

If the same thing happened with your retirement plan, you may be starting to feel a panic. Medical costs are soaring, and you may not be able to survive on your pension. Now is the time for you to consider some creative ways to build security for the future, and you may be wondering if real estate investment is a viable option.

Residential real estate can be a wise investment for many reasons

Investing in property in New York can be a wise move for a multitude of reasons. For instance, residential real estate investors can enjoy desirable rates of return and unparalleled tax advantages. However, several other benefits exist for investing in residential real estate.

One reason residential real estate can be an expedient investment is that the values of real estate always rise over time. The longer one holds real estate, the larger amount of money one can earn. The residential real estate market has recovered from previous bubbles that led to declines in home appreciation, and those who kept their investments can attest to the fact that their home prices bounced back. In fact, top-performing markets are leading to windfalls for some real estate investors.

Residential real estate market not quite like market 10 years ago

Ten years have passed since the real estate market crashed prior to the Great Recession. The current real estate market is characterized by higher home prices, high demand among buyers and an increased interest in flipping homes. Although today's market throughout the United States, including New York, resembles the pre-recession residential real estate market in some ways, some key differences exist.

First, although home prices were rising at the time of the crash, the crash was really the result of low-documentation and subprime mortgages. In addition, at the time, people were on the prowl for more shorter-term gains. The market today is vastly different, as obtaining a mortgage is now a much more challenging feat due to more stringent lending standards, and more genuine market vitality exists now than it did before.

Selling residential real estate can come with challenges

Selling a house in New York is an emotional and involved process. Especially for those who have never sold a piece of residential real estate before, knowing exactly where to start can be overwhelming. However, a few tips may help with navigating this multifaceted process.

First, being able to take negative criticism from a real estate agent is paramount. Sellers may naturally consider every complaint they receive to be a major blow to their design styles or property maintenance approaches. However, the information garnered from a legitimate complaint may very well help the sellers to unload their homes. For instance, an agent may recommend decluttering the home or cleaning the carpet to make it more aesthetically pleasing to potential buyers.

Dark clouds over your real estate closing

Finding the perfect property in New York is a challenge. You probably checked out listings in multiple boroughs, searched for hours online and met with numerous agents before finding a place you want to call home. You may have scraped for a down payment, haggled with the seller and cowed to the lender. However, that may have been the easy part.

Now that the process is in motion, your job is to wait. Meanwhile, the work behind the scenes involves making sure the house you want is legally the seller's to sell. In other words, investigators are performing a search on the title of the property you want to buy.

Wills important even for small estates

Many individuals in New York feel that a will is not necessary in their individual situations since they do not have estates. However, anyone who owns something that he or she values and would like to pass on to someone else when he or she dies is technically an estate owner. In addition, wills are not for the people who create them. Rather, they are really for those whom they leave behind, as the left-behind individuals are the ones who will have to settle the will creators' estates.

Even if someone leaves behind nothing but a car, someone else will have to change the car title. Likewise, if an asset owner has nothing more than a tiny checking account, somebody else will have to distribute this checking account. In addition, if there is no will in place, somebody will need to prove his or her relationship to the deceased party in probate court and be named an executor by the judge.

Steps may help to prevent wills from being challenged

Oftentimes, creating an estate plan is not high on the priority list for asset owners in New York, whose other life responsibilities typically take center stage. However, creating wills is essential for protecting one's assets in the long run. A common concern, though, is having an estate plan challenged by a family member.

A loved one may challenge an asset owner's estate plan if he or she is not included in it as much as he or she would like to be. It may not be possible to keep a dissatisfied family member from being dismayed, but a couple of steps may help with minimizing the chances that he or she will challenge the estate plan. First, writing the will and other estate planning documents in specific, clear language is paramount. This means that, if disinheriting a particular relative is one's goal, then stating this fact directly is important. Providing reasons for doing this may also be helpful.

Residential real estate issues may easily scare buyers away

Even if a house in New York appears beautiful on the outside, it may have a couple of problems that may scare potential homebuyers away. The truth is that it does not take much to make a piece of residential real estate unappealing in the eyes of homebuyers. A few home-related tips may help to avoid losing out on potentially good buyers.

First, half-done or faulty repairs are important to address before putting a home on the market. If a home has just been renovated but the upgrades were not done to code, or if the renovator did not have the correct permits, potential buyers may retreat. Even if a homeowner is selling a house as is, ensuring that it does not appear to be falling apart is paramount.