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Camden Delaware Real Estate Law Blog

These estate planning steps could ensure wishes are followed

Delaware residents who wish to "get their affairs in order" need to take certain steps to ensure that their wishes are followed. Estate planning in and of itself does help, but if mistakes are made, it could undo the efforts. In order to help ensure that everything goes according to plan when the time comes, it may help to keep the following in mind.

Estate planning is not a "one and done" activity. As changes occur in life and a Delaware resident ages, changes and modifications to the plan may be necessary. Periodically reviewing the documents in light of any life changes can help make sure that a person's wishes are current and honored.

Not married? Protect each other through estate planning

Considering the high number of Delaware couples who divorce, a couple may decide that marriage is not for them. They believe that a document will not change the nature of their relationship, so why bother. That may be the case for a marriage license, but when it comes to estate planning, those documents could make all the difference.

For instance, what happens if one party suffers an injury or illness that prevents him or her from making health care and financial decisions, even temporarily? Without powers of attorney in place, the other party may not have any legal right to make health care decisions that he or she knows the other party would want to be made. Other family members would step in and make those choices instead. In fact, the other partner may not even be able to obtain information regarding the ill or injured partner's condition.

How can contingencies protect me when buying a home?

Purchasing a home in Delaware is a major financial and legal step, and it is prudent to make every effort to ensure that you understand how to protect your interests. One of the ways you can do this is by including contingencies in your contract. Before you sign anything, you may consider how the wording of your purchase agreement could shield you from unnecessary financial risk.

Including contingencies in real estate contracts is quite common. Contingencies ensure that you get the information you need about the home you want to buy, or you can use them to ensure the seller does certain things. This protects you from buying a home with expensive problems or unknown issues.

How estate planning helps at different stages of life

Are you a Delaware resident and a legal adult? Then the odds are that you need an estate plan. Even if your career is still getting off the ground or you are right in the middle of it, you could benefit from estate planning. If you are reaching or are at retirement age, you can also benefit from putting your wishes in writing.

An estate plan offers different benefits, depending on your age and family status. If you are young and have a new family of your own, an estate plan can provide you some peace of mind that your children will be cared and provided for if you become incapacitated or pass away while they are still young. In addition, no one knows what the future holds. An accident or illness could occur no matter your age.

Start your estate planning now. Waiting could be costly

Delaware's young couples who are just beginning their parental journey probably spend most of their time focused on the present and the near future. Raising young children takes a great deal of commitment, and life can be hectic at times. Because of this, they may not have their minds on the possibility of not being there for their children and fail to take the time to consider estate planning.

The fact remains that an estate plan may be even more important for these young Delaware families. Dying without a will could mean that a couple's children would end up with someone of whom they would not approve. A last will and testament not only allows for the disbursement of property upon death, but also allows parents with minor children to appoint a guardian to care for them if the worst happens.

Use estate planning to provide for a pet after death

Many Delaware residents take steps to provide for their spouses, children and even charities after their deaths. However, there is someone else who needs protection and provision as well -- the family pet. Estate planning can provide for the fate of a pet after death.

Delaware residents may be surprised just how many pets end up in shelters after the death of their owners. Even when an individual gets a verbal okay from someone to take in a pet, when faced with actually doing so, some people may not abide by that verbal agreement. Making provisions in an estate plan requires more of a commitment from someone since the agreement is in writing.

Understanding vital documents in real estate transactions

First-time homebuyers encounter many new and unfamiliar elements. Countless documents are placed in front of them, and people hand them pens and tell them where to sign. Blindly signing documents for such a monumental purchase can leave a Delaware homebuyer in a tough situation, having agreed to items that he or she doesn't realize are in the documents. With a general understanding of the documents included in most real estate transactions and by taking the time to carefully review each page, a buyer may avoid making a terrible mistake.

The first document a house hunter may encounter is the sales contract. This is a legal agreement between the buyer and seller addressing how they will handle the sale of the property and any contingencies that may occur. It usually has a breakdown of all the closing costs and who will be responsible for each. Such contracts also include details about the good-faith deposit the buyer puts down, where that money will be kept and what happens to it if the deal falls through.

The legalities of being a residential real estate landlord

Perhaps you are moving and want to keep your former house and rent it out. Maybe you found a good deal on a house here in Delaware and decided to buy it and rent it. Whatever your circumstances may be, there are several legalities that you should be aware of as a residential real estate landlord.

After you get the house ready, do you just put a sign up in the yard and an ad in the paper and online? Without having some sort of standard lease agreement and process for choosing applicants, that could be a mistake. Having "have a good feeling" about someone may not be enough to ensure that you will receive your rental payments on time and not end up with a damaged rental property.

How can I protect myself when selling my home?

If you are planning to sell your Delaware home, you know that there are many things you need to do to prepare for the process ahead. There is much more involved with selling a home than simply putting a for sale sign in the front yard. You would be wise to take the steps necessary to ensure the full protection of your interests. This can help you avoid problems with the selling process as well as help you avoid legal complications in the future. 

Part of selling residential property is to disclose certain information about the property to prospective buyers. In fact, disclosures are your legal obligation as the party selling the property. As you consider what disclosures you may have to make, it can be useful to seek help and guidance regarding this matter.

Delaying estate planning could be costly for family members

How often do Delaware residents hear that they should "get their affairs in order" before it is too late? Even so, a large percentage of the population of the state -- and the country for that matter -- delays engaging in any estate planning. The reasons for this are numerous and vary from individual to individual, but failing to have some sort of estate plan in place often ends the same way -- with surviving family members potentially losing out on an inheritance because they end up spending valuable assets from the estate going through the courts.

Admittedly, it is not pleasant for most Delaware residents to contemplate their own death, but the desire to take care of family members thereafter requires it. Other people consider estate planning something that rich people do, and that they do not need it because they do not have significant wealth. For people with multiple children or blended families, the hesitation may come from trying to find a way to please everyone involved.

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