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Camden Delaware Real Estate Law Blog

Is an HOA part of your residential real estate transaction?

Many of Delaware's communities have homeowners associations. If you are involved in a residential real estate transaction, you may want to know if your community has an HOA, along with what it will mean for you. Many people simply pay their dues and never really understand the basic terminology associated with them, which outlines their structure and governance.

HOAs fall under the state's non-profit corporation statutes here in Delaware. Articles of Incorporation must be filed with the state, and a deed for the common areas of the communities they govern must be recorded in the appropriate county records. The covenants, conditions and restrictions, often referred to as the CC&Rs, must also be recorded in those same records.

How estate planning could affect Hugh Hefner's widow

As most people in Delaware probably already know, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner recently died at the age of 91. What many people may not have known is that Hefner was married in 2012. According to press releases, Hefner's estate planning provides for his widow, but does not provide her with an inheritance from his estate. Considering the state of many celebrity estates that have been in the news, sources can only guess at how he accomplished this at this point.

One source believes that Hefner may have set up a trust for his widow that provides her with income, but limits her access to any principal in some way. This may be through what it called a Qualified Terminable Interest Property trust. This type of trust could provide her with income, but will not involve her in the administration of the trust. Upon her death, anything remaining in the trust may go to Hefner's children.

Save your family from going to court through estate planning

The possibility of becoming incapacitated exists for every Delaware resident. No one knows when they will suffer serious injuries or contract a debilitating illness that makes it impossible to take actions regarding health care and finances without help. If the appropriate estate planning is not undertaken, family members could end up in court spending valuable time and money obtaining permission to act on your behalf.

When it comes to making health care decisions on your behalf, the fastest and easiest way to accomplish that is for you to appoint a trusted family member or friend to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make them for yourself. When coupled with your preferences for lifesaving and end-of-life treatments, there should be no question regarding your wishes. You may require a doctor's verification of incapacitation before this power of attorney takes effect just as you would for a durable power of attorney.

Circumventing potential problems with a property title

One of the most common issues that arise during a real estate transaction is one pertaining to the title. Disputes and defects with a title can have a negative impact on your goals, delaying closing and costing you more time and money. Handling these issues promptly and effectively are important for your bottom line.

As it relates to real estate transactions, a problem with a title can effect ownership of the property and affect your right to use your Delaware property as you see fit. It could also affect your ability to resale the property in the future. You may be surprised to learn that you do not have a clear title even after paying off your mortgage.

Real estate transactions can be plagued by title defects

When you purchase a piece of property here in Delaware, you want to know that you own it without any defects to the title. It does not matter whether real estate transactions are for residential or commercial property, if there is something wrong with the title, you could end up with problems down the road. For this reason, a careful examination of the title needs to be done, and if any issues are found, they require correction right away.

In fact, you may want to delay the closing to any transaction until after the defects on the title are taken care of properly. Certain defects in the title could mean that another party has a claim against the property you want to buy. For example, if an estate was not properly closed or title was not properly transferred, you could encounter issues.

What is the purpose of a residential real estate appraisal?

Most Delaware residents are not able to pay cash for a home. Even if they do have a substantial down payment, they still need a mortgage loan in order to pay the remaining portion of the purchase price. In that case, the lender will more than likely require a residential real estate appraisal prior to finalizing the loan.

The price you saw the home you want to buy listed for was likely based on a comparative market analysis. This is used by the real estate industry to help establish a fair market price for a home that is about to go up for sale. In reality, it is more of an educated guesstimate than an actual valuation of the home.

Don't bark up the wrong tree with pets and estate planning

What happens to a pet when its owner dies? Many Delaware residents engage in estate planning to take care of their loved ones after their deaths, but they may also need to take some time to figure out what will happen to their pets as well. No one can assume that another family member or friend will automatically take on this responsibility.

Caring for an animal is often a commitment that requires many years and many dollars. Choosing the right person to take on these tasks may not be as easy as a Delaware resident believes. It would make sense then to make sure that person would actually want the job. Then there is the matter of paying for food, veterinary bills and other costs.

Selling your home? Understanding required disclosures

Buying or selling a home in Delaware is a complex process that involves many factors. If you are attempting to put your house on the market, it is wise to know what to expect and how to avoid potential complications as you navigate what is ahead. One of the things that you may need to know concerns required disclosures as the seller. 

Disclosures are potential problems with the property that the buyer should know about. Required disclosures protect the interests of the buyer, and handling them the right way during the transaction process can allow you, as the seller, to avoid problems in the future.

Include a home inspection when buying residential real estate

Sellers are required by the state of Delaware to disclose any defects or other issues with a home they are selling to a potential buyer. However, it may be a mistake to rely on those disclosures to help you decide to purchase residential real estate. A home inspection may provide you with information the seller either did not know about or did not disclose when it comes to the condition of the home you are considering purchasing.

A home inspection reviews the current condition of the plumbing, electrical and structural features of the home, along with the insulation, ventilation (and HVAC) and roof. The results may reveal the need for major repairs that you are not prepared to take on if you buy the home. Many of the defects found during home inspections are not obvious as you walk through the home.

Estate planning isn't only for what happens after death

Wills, trusts and beneficiary designations are words often associated with planning for what happens after a Delaware resident's death. What about words like power of attorney, health care directive and living will? These aspects of estate planning are equally as important to the process because they focus on taking care of an individual during life in the event that they become unable to make decisions for or otherwise take care of themselves at some point due to age, accident or illness.

Who will make health care decisions under these circumstances? Without proper planning, that might be up to a Delaware court instead of the incapacitated person. Family members may end up in court arguing over who should have the right to make these decisions, and in the meantime, the individual may need more immediate attention. A health care power of attorney could appoint someone of the individual's choosing to take care of this crucial task.

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