Buying a home will probably be the largest and most significant purchase you will make in your life. It also involves the law of real property, which is unique and raises special legal issues and problems not present in other transactions. A real estate lawyer is trained to handle these problems and has the most experience to deal with them.
Making a Purchase
In the typical home purchase, the seller enters into a contract with a real estate agent, usually in writing. When the broker finds a potential buyer, they conduct the negotiations and most often act as an intermediary (the go-between). Once an informal agreement is reached, the buyer and seller enter into a formal written contract for the sale of the new home. This is known as the purchase agreement.
The home buying process then follows the following steps:
• The buyer obtains a commitment for financing.
• A title search is conducted to satisfy the lender and the buyer.
• Finally, the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the seller receives the purchase price bargained for in the contract.
The process seems simple, but without a lawyer, the consequences may be more disastrous than purchasing a car that turns out to be a lemon or a stock investment that was unwise.
Avoid Vague or Unclear Terms In Your Real Estate Contract
A lawyer can help you avoid some common problems with a home purchase or sale. For example, a seller may sign a brokerage agreement that does not deal with a number of legal issues. This happens quite often as realtors often use standard forms, expecting that they will cover all situations. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the seller may become liable to pay a brokerage commission even if a sale does not occur, or they may be forced to pay more than one brokerage commission. If the agreement allows the seller the right to negotiate on their own behalf, however, you may avoid this potential problem. It is thus recommended that the seller have the advice and guidance of an attorney with respect to a brokerage agreement. Even if the agreement is a standard form, its terms should be explained to the seller and revised, if necessary.
Consider a Real Estate Lawyer Consultation
Even if a lawyer is not needed during the course of negotiations, both the buyer and seller may want to consult with a lawyer to answer important legal questions, such as the tax consequences of the real estate transaction. The tax consequences may be of critical importance to a home seller. For example, the income tax consequences of a sale, particularly if the seller makes a large profit, may be considerable. An attorney can advise whether the seller can take advantage of tax provisions allowing for exclusion of capital gains in certain circumstances.
Real Estate Purchase Agreements
The purchase agreement is the single most important document in the transaction. Although standard printed forms are useful, a lawyer is helpful in explaining the forms and making changes and additions to reflect the home buyer’s and the seller’s desires.
There are many issues that may need to be addressed in the purchase agreement, such as:
• If the property has changed or if there has been an addition to the property, was it done lawfully?
• If the buyer has plans to change the property, can that be done lawfully?
• What happens if a buyer has a home inspector inspect the property and termites, asbestos, radon, or lead-based paint is found?
• What if the property is found to contain hazardous waste?
• What are the legal outcomes if the closing does not take place, and what happens to the down payment?
• Will the down payment be held in escrow by a lawyer according to the escrow instructions? How is the payment to be made?
Is the closing conditioned upon the buyer obtaining financing?
Most buyers finance a substantial portion of the purchase price for a home with a mortgage loan from a lending institution. The purchase agreement should contain a carefully worded provision that is subject to the buyer obtaining a commitment for financing.
Real Estate Title Search
After the purchase agreement is signed, it is necessary to establish the state of the seller’s title to the property to satisfy the buyer and the financial institution. Generally, a title search is ordered from an abstract or title insurance company. In some states, title insurance is not typical. In these cases, an attorney is essential to review the status of title and give an opinion of title in lieu of a title policy. Assuming you are in an area where title insurance is customary, an attorney can help review the title search and explain the title exceptions as to what is not insured. They will also determine whether the legal description is correct and whether there are problems with adjoining owners or prior owners. In addition, an attorney can explain the effect of easements and agreements or restrictions imposed by a prior owner, and whether there are any legal restrictions which will undermine your ability to sell the property. The title search does not tell the buyer or seller anything about existing and prospective zoning. A lawyer can explain whether zoning prohibits a two-family home, or whether planned improvements violate zoning ordinances.
Real Estate Title Closing
The closing is the most important event in the purchase and sale transaction. The deed and other closing papers must be prepared. At the closing, title passes from seller to buyer, who pays the balance of the purchase price. Frequently, this balance is paid in part from the proceeds of a mortgage loan. A closing statement should be prepared prior to the closing indicating the debits and credits to the buyer and seller. An attorney, here, becomes helpful in explaining the nature, amount, and fairness of closing costs. Once the deed and other closing documents are signed, an attorney can make sure that these documents are appropriately executed and explained to everyone.
Importance of Having a Lawyer During Closing
The closing process can be confusing and complex to the buyer and seller. Those present at the closing often include the buyer and seller, their respective attorneys, the title closer (representative of the title company), an attorney for any lending institution, and the real estate broker. There may also be last-minute disputes about delivering possession and personal property or the adjustment of various costs, such as fuel and taxes. If you are the only person there without a lawyer, your rights may be at risk. A broker generally serves the seller, and the lender is obtained by the buyer. Both want to see the deal go through since that is how they will get paid. However, neither can provide legal counsel. If you want peace of mind when making one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime, you should consider speaking with an experienced real estate attorney.
Military Attorney and Lawyers
A military lawyer’s job is similar to a civilian lawyer in their day-to-day duties. Representing clientele under jurisdiction of military courts and law is the primary difference. The military attorney works exclusively with military personnel and may represent them in civil and criminal cases. Each Military lawyer may work within any branch of the Navy, Army, Marines, or Air force even though each branch has their own Judge Advocate Generals (also known as JAGs). Military personnel may contact any military legal assistance office if they need legal representation. A Jag practices law in a Military court including court-martial, military review, Military Court of Inquiry, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. A Jag will go through the same educational process of a civilian lawyer. Military attorneys will need to know general law as well as military law. They can either become a JAG after entering the military, or they may enter the military with the JAG requirements completed.
The role of a military attorney is as broad as that of a civilian attorney. They will participate in matters of both civil and criminal nature. One of the primary differences of a military court is the military tribunal that deals with enemies during wartime.
Some of the roles of the military lawyer include:
• Advising military clients brought before the courts.
• Handling the legal discipline of military personnel.
• Drafting and preparing legal documents.
• Creating and maintaining military handbooks.
• Preparing a client for trial.
• Advising commanders on international law, military law, and civilian law.
• Acting as council for court-martial.
A military attorney must possess an excellent understanding of all parts of civil and military law. Their advice and actions not only affect individuals, it may also reflect on their branch of service and the United States Government. They must be able to work under pressure while maintaining a cool decorum. They will need to have excellent communication skills both in the courtroom and out. Their ability to represent a broad range of clientele, from a young enlisted soldier to a high-ranking commander, requires they are comfortable communicating across the ranks.
Examples of Cases for Military Lawyers
The military court, while similar to civilian court, also differs. Therefore, the cases that a military lawyer participates in may be different.
A few examples are:
• Offenses- Military rules provide a variety of offenses that military personnel may be charged with. While many of the criminal offenses are similar to civilian courts such as murder and theft, the military oversees special offenses unique to the armed forces. These offenses include: desertion, murder in combat, and insubordination.
• Court-Martial- One of the prevailing outcomes of any criminal proceeding against military personnel is a Court-Martial. If a person is found guilty of a crime, a court-martial is likely. The military attorney may represent the offending party or the military branch they serve.
• Landlord Tenant Disputes- Moving is one of the hallmarks of military life. As such, it is not uncommon for military personnel to find the need to hire an attorney in a landlord-tenant dispute. While military lawyers do not represent clients dealing with other civil issues such as divorce or child custody, they will represent a military client in a landlord-tenant case.
The job outlook of a military lawyer will vary. Each branch of the military may have different needs. For instance, the Marines are a small branch of the service and serve as part of the Navy. The Marines may not need as many legal personnel than the Army. Speaking with a recruiting officer may offer insight into the possibilities of a career as a lawyer in the military. The salary of a military attorney is set by rank and years in the military. A new attorney may start out at $38,000 a year. As they move up the ranks they can earn six-digit incomes. Regardless of your age, or the size and complexity of your estate, an estate plan can accomplish the following:
• Identify the family members and other loved ones that you wish to receive your property after your death.
• Ensure that your property will be transferred to those you have identified, as quickly and with as few legal hurdles as possible.
• Minimize the amount of taxes that will need to be paid in order for your property to pass to others after your death.
• Avoid the time and costs associated with the probate process by utilizing estate planning devices like living trusts and “payable on death” bank accounts.
• Dictate the kinds of life-prolonging medical care you wish to receive should you be unable to make your wishes known when the time comes.
• Set forth the kind of funeral arrangements you would like, and how related expenses are to be paid.
Military Real Estate Lawyer Free Consultation
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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