Oct 08

3 Reasons Why You Need to Start Thinking About Estate Planning Services

By Gladiator | Blog

estate planning servicesWhether the cause is old age, illness, or the unexpected, the prospect of death can be overwhelming and daunting to anyone approaching that time in their life. But if you’re like the 64% of the American public that doesn’t have a will or the 66%` of survey respondents who don’t know what will happen to their digital assets, it may be time to start thinking about wills and estate planning services. Will and estate planning is essential in ensuring your assets and your loved ones are taken care of, long before you pass. Here are three reasons to start planning your estate and will today:

  1. Provide for your loved ones. If you have a spouse, children, or immediate family members that you wish to provide for after passing, getting a will is the best way to ensure that their lives go on as normally as possible. This is especially important for families with children under the age of 18. In the unfortunate case that both spouses die before the children reach the age of 18, writing a will and personal estate planning requires you to name an official guardian for the children in question. Without this, the case and custody question will go to the courts, as will the decisions regarding your remaining assets, education, and finances left behind.
  2. Make expenses as minimal as possible. If you fail to plan your estate before passing, the division and distribution of your assets may prove to be more expensive, preventing your loved ones from getting the money you wanted them to receive. Planning your estate ahead of time is more cost-effective.
  3. Ease the strain on loved ones, financially and emotionally. Death can take quite the toll, in more ways than one. Estate planning services ease the strain and mitigate the grief of your family members and loved ones, making the process of grieving easier and a little less painful.

>Even more surprising is the fact that over half the population (51%) between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t even have wills. If you are one of these Americans, contact your probate law attorney today.

Oct 02

New Changes to Mortgage Process to Go into Effect in October

By Gladiator | Blog

home buyingNew changes in mortgage policy were announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in their “know before you own” campaign. These changes will make it easier for potential home buyers to compare mortgage rates while looking at new homes for sale. It will also allow loan customers to check their loan amount, interest rate, payments, closing costs, and any other terms and conditions. This is great news for those looking to buy a home, as buyers typically need to borrow 90% of the price of their home. The changes take place in a variety of different areas, and make it easier for a home buyer to fully understand the full cost of home buying. One of the major changes to be implemented is the converging of four documents into two. The new Loan Estimate document will replace the Good Faith Estimate and the first Truth-In-Lending Statement. The second document, known as Closing Disclosure, will combine the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and the final Truth-In-Lending statement. To help ease home buyers through the mortgage process, the new Loan Estimate has a full page that is specifically designed to help a home buyer to understand the full cost of the mortgage. This includes a calculation of what the borrower would have already paid after five years into the mortgage. They also contain an estimate of the APR rate, which can be used to compare mortgages side-by-side. This is great news for someone who is unfamiliar with mortgage terms, such as first time buyers. In 2014, 38% of home buyers were first-time buyers, and that number continues to rise as the younger generation grows into adults. If you’re confused about the home buying process, it may be beneficial to do some research before diving into searching for homes for sale. A staggering 92% of buyers use the Internet in some way during their search process, as it is a great tool for research needs. If you have any other questions, or aren’t sure where to start, contact your local Realtors for more information.

Sep 25

An Update on Good Faith Estimates

By Gladiator | Blog

Tuesday night was our bi-weekly meeting at J&A Realty and it was an action-packed one. Not only was it Mrs. Johnson’s birthday but Donte Harris, the branch manager for Primary Residential Mortgage, stopped by to give a talk.  Mr. Harris talked extensively about the new changes that have taken place with the GFE or Good Faith Estimate.  These are changes that you the consumer should be aware of because they directly effect your home buying experience in what we believe to be a positive way.  Before these changes the GFE was a complicated document that did not clearly or effectively communicate information to the home buyer.  Now the GFE is a standardized 3 page document with clearly labeled items. The two images shown here are an examples of the old GFE and the new GFE forms. The old GFE form is on the left and the new GFE form is on the right.  Without even looking at the numbers it should be clear that the new GFE forms are much less obscure and much easier for the average consumer to understand.  These factors will make understanding your loan estimate much easier and remove some of apprehension that is commonly associated with home buying.

Sep 10

5 Easy Steps for Writing a Will

By Gladiator | Blog

writing a willWriting a will can seem like a daunting task, but that shouldn’t prevent you from taking care of this monumental portion of your personal estate planning. Hiring a wills lawyer that specializes in estate planning services is a good place to start, but they can’t — nor should you want them to — make the actual decisions of who gets what. They can ensure that you get everything done in a correct manner and help with the legalities. Writing a will should be combination of a personal, nostalgic journey of times long past as well as an eye towards the future and how your loved ones can benefit from what you leave behind. Here are five basic tips for writing a will. 1.) Start With the Big Stuff: In most cases it’s best to get the bigger, more valuable assets divided first. Over half (51%) of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t have a will. That number jumps to 64% when looking at the population as a whole. If nothing else this is the stuff you’ll want to have a plan in place for. Determining the total value of all your money from various funds, accounts, investments is the first step. You’ll have to decide if you want to cash out things like stocks and bonds or turn them over as is. After money, large items like houses, vehicles, and property should be the next to work through. If you have multiple children and you want to leave them all with similar amounts it’s a good idea to keep a list of who’s getting what with an estimated value. 2.) Personal/Sentimental: While not as valuable monetarily, this is everything that is important to you and your family on another level. Make sure you allocate things accordingly. You wouldn’t want a family war to break out after your death because someone took an heirloom another sibling assumed they had rights to. 3.) Everything Else: All the small things. It might not seem like a big deal but many times this is the stuff that gets fought over the most. Digital assets could fall into this category as well. Most people (63%) don’t know what happens to them after they die, according to a RocketLawyer survey. If you don’t want to deal with a huge all-encompassing list, at least designate one person to be the beneficiary of all things unmentioned. 4.) Proofread: Any writer will tell you one of the most important part of writing anything is going back over it for mistakes. You could accidentally put the wrong name somewhere, or have a typo that could affect the integrity of the will. 5.) X Marks the Spot: Make sure your executor knows where you’re keeping your will. Getting a will perfectly crafted, and well thought out does no good to anyone if it can’t be found upon your expiration.

Sep 03

Buying a New Home: A Step-By-Step Process

By Gladiator | Blog

home buyersBuying a new house is one of the most exciting milestones in a person’s life. However, many potential home buyers are new to the home buying process, and have no idea how to even begin looking. Approximately 43% of home buyers believe the first step is to look online for property, but many are unaware of the other steps that should be taken first. Here is a simple, step-by-step guide for the home buying process. Check Your Credit Credit scores are important because they affect the kind of home loans you can qualify for. Credit scores range from approximately 300 to 850, and the higher a home buyers credit score, the more likely they’ll be able to qualify for an agreeable loan. According to law, every person is allowed one free copy of his or her credit report, and there are many online sites that can conduct the check for you. When checking your credit score, look for any errors that you can dispute, which may help raise your score. Get Pre-Approved Unless you have thousands of dollars in cash laying around, you will most likely need to take out a loan to pay for your new home. A study of home buying in 2013 showed that home buyers typically finance 90% of the home price through a mortgage. Before you are able to look at new homes for sale, apply to several lenders to get pre-approved for a loan. This will allow you to get a more complete picture of what you can afford, before you start talking to local Realtors. Shop For a Home Before conducting a search for a new home, take a minute to think about what kind of house you want to look for. Think about what kind of space you need, the neighborhood you want to live in, and any other factors that might affect your decision. Once you know what you want, it’s time to turn to the Internet. Ninety-two percent of home buyers use the Internet is some way during their home search process. If you’re not comfortable using the Internet, contact a real estate agent and ask them for their listings. Make an Offer Once you’ve found the perfect house, it’s time to make an offer. Sellers tend to price their homes higher than they are willing to sell, in case haggling is involved. Base your offer on other comparable houses in the market. Once the price is agreed upon, a contract will be written up with all the terms of the sale.

Aug 24

3 Things To Check Before Buying a House

By Gladiator | Blog

homes for saleWhether you’re a first time buyer, or relocating to a new area, searching for a house to buy can be a stressful process. There are many things that have to be considered when purchasing a house, and it can be easy to forget some of the crucial aspects of the property that will affect the quality of your life. Here are 3 important things you’ll want to keep in mind when looking at a potential home for purchase. Neighborhood When looking at new homes for sale, you want to make sure that the surrounding area is a location you can envision yourself in for at least 10 years. NAR’s 2013 Community Preference Survey showed that 78% of home buyers surveyed believed that neighborhood quality is more important than the size of the homes for sale. Take a walk around the neighborhoods where you are looking to buy in, and take note of the conditions of the houses in the neighborhood, what kind of people live there, and if there are any community amenities like a park or library. If you’re unable to visit the neighborhood, utilize tools on the internet to do more research. Ninety-two percent of buyers use the Internet in some way during their home buying process. Bills Owning a home can be expensive. Along with mortgage payments and local taxes, there are other monthly bills that homeowners are accountable for. When looking at homes for sale, keep in mind the other costs that will go into owning the house. For example, large houses will likely have more expensive heating and cooling bills since there is more area to cover. Nine out of 10 buyers say they would rather buy a home with energy-efficient appliances that permanently lower utility bills over a home without those appliances that costs 2 to 3% less. Ask your local Realtors to provide you with the approximate cost of a month of utilities for a more accurate estimation of how much the home will cost you in the long run. Parking Parking can be one of the easiest things to forget when comparing multiple locations. Consider how many cars you will have at the house, and whether or not there is a driveway big enough to fit them all. Even if your house does have a driveway, it’s good to check the status of street parking and if there are any regulations that need to be observed. Tricky parking laws can make it difficult for any friends or relatives who come to visit.

Aug 21

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

By Gladiator | Blog

home buyersIf you’ve been considering buying a house for the first time, the process can seem discouraging. Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases of a person’s life, and first-time home buyers often have no idea how to even begin looking for a house to purchase. If you’re looking to buy a home for the first time and are confused, you’re not alone. About 38% of home buyers were first-time home buyers in 2014, lacking the experience needed to traverse the home buying market. Here are a few things you should know before putting an offer on your first home. The first step in buying a new house is research. Approximately 43% of home buyers believe that the best way to start the home-buying process is looking online for property, and a total of 92% of buyers use the internet in some way during their search. Use the internet to find out about the different neighborhoods you are considering moving into, looking into the average price of a home and taxes. It may also be good to check out the local shops and restaurants, and see if there are any annual events that may affect your decision. Make sure your qualify for a mortgage, and decide which option is the best for you. When shopping for a mortgage, and try to avoid mortgages that don’t offer a fixed interest rate. Consider other expenditures that may need to be made, such as homeowner’s insurance, a security system, moving van, and any renovations that you may have to do when budgeting out your total home purchase amount. If you’re still unsure about the process of home buying and all the steps that are a part of it, consider attending a home buyers workshop. These seminars provide new potential homeowners with a variety of home buyer seminars on topics such as how to get a home loan, managing your finances, and can even give you tips for the future if/when you sell your home.

Aug 12

Why Hiring a Wills Lawyer is Worth the Money

By Gladiator | Blog

wills lawyerIn total, 64% of U.S. citizens are currently forfeiting their right to provide an inheritance to anyone. That is to say they don’t have a will in place. That number drops to 51% in the age 55 to 64 group, which is still incredibly high for something as important as deciding who will obtain your entire life’s possessions and assets. Whether it’s the inability to care for the well-being of family members after death or sheer laziness holding you back, it’s time to seriously consider getting a will. Before you grab a pen and start aimlessly writing a will, though, you may want to think about hiring a wills lawyer to help you through the process. Professionally trained to take care of such matters, a quality wills lawyer is a great start in your estate planning services. One of the things a wills lawyer will help you with is in overall convenience. There are many different factors that go into comprehensive personal estate planning, and having a professional at your side can help sort through and organize exactly what should be taken care of first and perhaps what can wait. The price can sometimes scare people away from this service, but think about it as an investment in your family’s future. If you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on education, healthcare, and personal happiness for them while you are alive, why wouldn’t you be willing to do the same (perhaps more so) after you’re gone? A professional wills lawyer can save your wills and estate planning from the potential disaster that even the slightest misstep could lead to. Typos, unclear/awkward wording, and forgetting to sign documents can lead to serious problems for your inheritors. Avoid these stupid mistakes by getting the right help. The execution of a will, or the way they’re signed and witnessed, can also play a vital role. Depending on state laws and regulations this can vary greatly, making this perhaps the most important reason to get a wills lawyer. What good is a great will that lays your assets out exactly as you want them divided, but was improperly signed or not verified by the proper authorities and thus may make the entire thing a worthless piece of paper filled with good intentions? Most people don’t have to worry about federal estate taxes as they only affect those with a value of almost $5.5 million, but that doesn’t change the fact that every estate is valuable no matter the worth. You’ve spent a lifetime working to provide for your family and save in the process. When your time comes, you should decide how you want it distributed. Hire a wills lawyer and put your mind at ease.

Aug 07

3 Roles all Estate Planning Services Should Have

By Gladiator | Blog

estate planning serviceIt’s a frightening topic for most. What happens when I die? Not just in a spiritual sense, but pragmatically. Many people don’t think about estate planning services until they reach an older age. Currently 64% of Americans don’t have wills, and over half of people age 55-64 don’t have one. How will your assets be divided? Who will make decisions if you’re unable to do so? Uncomfortable? Maybe. Necessary to think about? Absolutely, and for most it should be more than just thoughts. Writing a will and testament is important for your family and loved ones and should be taken seriously. If not, things like intra-family disputes, state, or probate law can greatly affect a persons estate after they’re gone. 1.) Hire an Attorney: Sure, you can write up a will easily enough, but personal estate planning is more than saying who you want your money to go to. For some people a revocable living trust is a great way to avoid probate and estate taxes. Having a professional go over all your assets can provide you with valuable information on what things like your digital assets are worth. Over half (63%) of those surveyed by RocketLawyer didn’t even know what happens to such assets after their death. 2.) Select Power of Attorney: Not like the attorney above. This is someone who makes decisions for you and acts on your behalf if you are incapacitated or unable to do so. It’s important to talk this over with the people you would be considering for designation to make sure you’re on the same page with anything and everything that they could have to decide. 3.) Name Executor: This is the person who makes sure all of your will is carried out as per your wishes. Again this is something you should sit down with family members and discuss. It should be someone who is organized and authoritative enough to be entrusted with such duties. Getting a will is one thing, but then it must be executed properly. Estate planning services like hiring an attorney or financial adviser can be instrumental in making the process to get a will set and other elements in order before your death. Once you have the basics done it will then be much easier to update or revise what you already have in place as you get older and everything becomes more difficult.

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