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Legal Resources

Your business loan could mess up your estate plan

If you own a business and you plan to leave it to one of your children when you die, be aware that taking out a business loan or line of credit could affect your estate plan. The reason: Many wills that provide that a child will inherit business assets don’t specify whether the child will inherit the assets subject to any debts, or whether the child will inherit the assets free and clear and any debts

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$100 million Starbucks verdict shows danger of ‘tip pools’

A recent $100 million verdict against Starbucks for the way it required employees to participate in “tip pools” should jolt employers with all the force of a Venti extra-shot Caramel Macchiato. Tip-pool lawsuits have been filed recently not only against restaurants, but also against hotels, transportation companies, delivery services, casinos and sports facilities. Recently, many companies have been tempted to expand the number of employees who participate in tip pools. This can seem like a good

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Which remodeling projects pay for themselves?

Wondering which remodeling projects are most likely to pay for themselves in terms of resale value? The latest edition of Remodeling Magazine’s annual survey of builders and real estate agents is out, and it offers some answers, both nationally and for different regions. Of course, every house, every community, and every remodeling project is different, and the results will vary widely from home to home. But the national averages make for interesting reading. Nationally, the project

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Homeowners association could prohibit owners from renting their homes

A homeowners association in a development could prohibit homeowners from leasing their homes, says the Indiana Supreme Court. In this case the homeowners association sued an owner for renting her house, which violated the terms of her deed. (The homeowner had broken her hip and moved to a nursing home, and wanted to rent her house to help pay her nursing home costs.) The homeowner argued that the “no-lease” provision in the deed was illegal. She

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Get a tax break if relatives finance your house purchase

Some people borrow money from their parents or other relatives to purchase a house. If a relative has enough money on hand to be able to finance a home purchase, this can be a very “friendly” alternative to a traditional mortgage. In addition, for some people without a sufficient down payment or credit history, it might be one of the few ways to arrange buying a home. If you borrow money from relatives and you plan

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Landlord couldn’t use lease to avoid personal injury lawsuits

A landlord can’t put a clause in a lease that says it won’t be liable if a tenant has a slip-and-fall injury, says the Idaho Supreme Court. The law on this issue varies from state to state, but the Idaho ruling is interesting and points out that landlords need to be very careful if they want to limit their responsibility for injuries. The lease in this case said that the landlord was not liable for any

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Cities are sued for dragging their feet on eminent domain

A landowner can sue a city for announcing that it was going to take some property by eminent domain, and then doing nothing else for a long time. That’s the result of two recent decisions by the highest courts in Nevada and Missouri. In the Nevada case, the city of North Las Vegas announced that it was going to condemn an acre of a business’s property for a flood control project. However, the city did nothing

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New rules for home mortgages will protect consumers

The Federal Reserve Board has issued a number of new rules for home mortgages that are designed to protect consumers. The rules apply to “subprime” mortgages and to some “Alt-A” mortgages (which are given to buyers whose credit is less than ideal but is better than subprime). The rules include: Lenders cannot offer a mortgage unless they first verify the borrower’s income.

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An equity line of credit could mean rethinking your estate plan

If you take out a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit, be aware that it could affect your estate plan. The reason: Many people plan to leave their house to one child, and the rest of their property to their other children (or other heirs). But their will doesn’t say specifically whether the child who inherits the house will receive it subject to any debts, or whether the debts must be paid off

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Congress makes ‘jumbo’ mortgages easier

Should you refinance now? Mortgages are often divided into two types, “conforming” and “jumbo.” For some time, a “conforming” mortgage has been any loan up to $417,000, and a “jumbo” mortgage has been any loan over that amount. The reason is that $417,000 was the largest loan that could be repurchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-governmental mortgage-buying agencies. Because lenders could not re-sell a loan over $417,000 to these agencies, they often

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