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Holy Smokes: Marijuana in Massachusetts

Congratulations, Massachusetts! We have survived our first full day of legal recreational marijuana.

Realistically, not much has changed. Massachusetts has been pro- marijuana for almost ten years. We first decriminalized (meaning you won’t get arrested for possession) it in 2008 and approved it for medical use in 2012. The first “local” medical dispensary was recently approved in Mansfield, in the town next to our office.

Effective yesterday, anyone age 21 or old can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence; however, there are still rules that must be followed, some of which are:
·         You can also possess up to 6 plants if you live alone and 12 plants if you live with another adult;
·         If you want to give someone else an ounce of marijuana as a gift, you can do it;
·         If you want to sell it, you still cannot; and
·         Your plants cannot be displayed in plain sight (aka in a window facing the street).

One of the key provisions of the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is that it is “illegal to prevent a person from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the consumption, display, production, processing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories on or in a property the person owns, occupies, or manages except that a lease agreement shall not prohibit a tenant consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which tenant resides unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate Federal law.”

This language creates an immediate concern for many landlords. If a landlord already has a “no smoking” regulation on their premises, there should already been an understanding that smoking marijuana in that unit would not be permitted; however, whether or not the tenant would be able to possess or grow marijuana on the premises is probably unclear in the existing lease. For this reason, we recommend that all landlords immediately create an addendum to their existing lease agreement to regulate the growing and smoking of marijuana.

Please see our website www.wjslegal.com for more information. As always, please feel free to contact us about this or any other legal questions that you may have.
rday, anyone age 21 or old can possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence; however, there are still rules that must be followed, some of which are:
·         You can also possess up to 6 plants if you live alone and 12 plants if you live with another adult;
·         If you want to give someone else an ounce of marijuana as a gift, you can do it;
·         If you want to sell it, you still cannot; and
·         Your plants cannot be displayed in plain sight (aka in a window facing the street).

One of the key provisions of the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act is that it is “illegal to prevent a person from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the consumption, display, production, processing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories on or in a property the person owns, occupies, or manages except that a lease agreement shall not prohibit a tenant consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which tenant resides unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate Federal law.”

This language creates an immediate concern for many landlords. If a landlord already has a “no smoking” regulation on their premises, there should already been an understanding that smoking marijuana in that unit would not be permitted; however, whether or not the tenant would be able to possess or grow marijuana on the premises is probably unclear in the existing lease. For this reason, we recommend that all landlords immediately create an addendum to their existing lease agreement to regulate the growing and smoking of marijuana.

Please see our website www.wjslegal.com for more information. As always, please feel free to contact us about this or any other legal questions that you may have.

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Why an Owner’s Title Policy?

Great information from Old Republic Title Group, who we proudly represent:

Mr. Seller and (presumably) Mrs. Seller arrived at settlement to execute the deed to Mr. & Mrs. Buyer. A while later, the real Mrs. Seller’s attorney mails a letter to Mr. & Mrs. Buyer claiming the property still belongs to Mrs. Seller, who had been separated at the time of the purported sale and unaware of the perfidy of Mr. Seller.

Joe Frazier, after his annuity income stops, decides your property is still his, 14 years after he signed a deed. Sounds crazy, but he still sues you and you need a good title attorney, NOW.

Your legal description recites a boundary along a roadway. Your seller says he uses the dirt roadway to get out to the main roadway. The searcher just assumes there is legal access to a public road because of the way the legal description reads. When the property owner over which you must travel to reach the main highway sells, the new owner decides to block off the dirt road. Now you are landlocked. You may or may not be able to require this neighbor to open the roadway again without purchasing an easement from him, but you have to go to court and pay a lawyer and the court expenses.

A new regime takes over the local municipal government determined to save the taxpayer’s money and get re-elected again and again. The “newly elected” tackle their new job with vigor that would surpass the “white tornado” in that old commercial for a newer, stronger, more disinfectant cleaner. They are determined to “clean house.” To their delight they discover that their campaign rhetoric was absolutely true. The last members of the municipal board had never gone after the scofflaws of the township to get them to pay their water/sewer line tap-in fees, or their street improvement assessments, or any of the other myriad township assessments and fees imposed on the upstanding property owners as a privilege to live in “Camelot” township. Now is the time to collect on the old municipal liens. But now you are the owner of the property. It was your seller who was the “scofflaw.”

When you purchased your property, the settlement clerk paid off the seller’s mortgages. You thought your troubles were over. Later when you went to refinance your mortgage for a lower interest rate, the searcher finds old open mortgages still against your property. The settlement clerk had obtained a letter of indemnification from the seller’s title insurance underwriter (because the seller had an Owner’s Title Policy) in order to insure over these old mortgages. Later the clerk failed, for whatever reason, to obtain releases from the mortgage companies to clear the courthouse records. If you did not purchase an Owner’s Title Policy insuring you against such liens, you cannot obtain a letter of indemnification, as did the seller when you purchased, because you did not purchase the Owner’s Title Policy to protect yourself.

However, you were advised by a trusted and competent advisor that you do not need an owner’s title policy. “Once they search the title to protect the lender, you know your chain is good. So why pay the extra money for an owner’s policy.” Good advice? Not when that claim comes in.

A Lender’s Title Policy insures only the lender. And the Lender’s policy insures that the mortgage is a first lien. The lender, of course, would be concerned if you lost your title to the property but only when you lost your title to the property. The lender would be concerned if they found out there is a judgment or municipal lien ahead of their mortgage in lien priority; but only when the mortgage is in foreclosure. The lender gets concerned once the tragedy has already happened. An owner is concerned before it gets that far. And, without an Owner’s Policy, you are not covered and you must pay someone else’s debt.

Because the title policy is an indemnity contract for losses, the mortgage company must suffer a loss before they actually have a claim under the Lender’s Title Policy. Therefore, they must proceed to foreclosure, sell the property and obtain less than the debt due on the loan. By that time the owner has been ejected from the property.

For just a little more money over the lender’s-only policy you can get an Owner’s and Lender’s policy combination that protects your ownership interest. In addition, should you die, the ownership interests of you heirs or devisees are also protected under this same policy. You pay a premium only once and the policy continues in force until you sell to a third party. Don’t let anyone convince you that the lenders coverage accrues to your benefit.

Reprinted from the December 1999 issue of the Old Republic National Title Insurance Company newsletter, Title Talk, Pennsylvania Edition

For more information or with specific questions, please feel free to contact us at (508)319-1529.

 

North Attleboro Plainville Wrentham Bristol Norfolk Real estate child support custody divorce real estate homestead title insurance Attleboro lawyer legal law office modification contempt estate plan planning will power of attorney old republic title company living will Norton Franklin Bellingham Canton Easton Marin School Association Representative Town Meeting Junior League of Boston Contractor Disputes Personal Injury Landlord Tenant  Deed paternity South Attleboro Cub Scout pack 65

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Top 10 Legal Statistics

Once you reach a certain age, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic about your younger days. Life was so easy and you were invincible. You loved drinking Tab, listening your Guns and Roses cassette, and watching Goonies. Those favorite things often bring us comfort as we are busy “adulting” and moving forward into new adventures. In the spirit of favorite bits of nostalgia, we present a Letterman-style Top 10 List:

Top 10 Random Legal Tidbits

10. Take note the next time you are at Fenway or Gillette: Anyone over the age of 16 and at a sporting event who uses obscene language or a slanderous statement can be punished by a fine of up to $50. Yes, that does include during the playoffs.
9. Massachusetts was the first state to allow for same sex marriage. In 2009, the couple at the center of the historic ruling got divorced (after over 20 years as a couple).
8. Title Insurance on your home is very much worth the one- time investment. If there is ever an issue with the title to your property, your policy will usually cover the cost of correcting the problem. Typically, the cost of the policy is less than two or three hours of legal fees.
7. Don’t go to a wake on an empty stomach. No mourner is allowed to consume more than three sandwiches, of any size, at a funeral home within the Commonwealth. For years, any service of food or drink in the home was prohibited; however, the laws have loosened a little bit so that cold beverages and light snacks may be served to make mourners more comfortable.
6. The United States Supreme Court has been involved in two Presidential elections in the past. In addition to Bush versus Gore in 2000, the Supreme Court was also involved in the 1876 race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden. If the current election continues to be as emotionally charged as it currently is, it’s not unlikely that this election also requires judicial intervention.
5. One town in the Commonwealth does not allow residents to buy, sell, or possess squirt guns. The same town also prohibits the use of silly string and ownership of more than two dogs. It sounds like a dreadful place to live if you are a kid; fortunately, the Target in that town seems to be more pro-fun than compliance and usually carries two out of the three in stock.
4. Negotiations can occasionally be very similar to the opening scene of Wedding Crashers. People sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and fight over “small” things, like license plates. We understand when emotions take over, because it is a highly emotional time and there can be a strong connection to personal property. The best attorneys will defuse negativity and keep parties focused on resolution. However, to date, neither of us have crashed a wedding (yet).
3. Sometimes, it does just depend. When attorneys respond “it depends,” we aren’t trying to avoid answering a question. More often than not, our answer often requires additional information for a more specific answer. Even the slightest tweak in facts can change our overall impression about a situation and the likelihood that a ruling or resolution will be in our client’s favor.
2. Dancing to or singing only a portion of the Star Spangled Banner is prohibited anywhere with the Commonwealth; however, singing off-key, while arm in arm in arm with friends, to Sweet Caroline is strongly suggested.
1. We are so excited to announce the opening of the Law Office of Weiner Jackson & Simmons, P.C.! We founded the practice based on our belief that a team of hard working, client- focused, determined professionals can provide a higher quality more personal service to our community. Please check out our website www.wjslegal.com and follow us on Facebook.

 

North Attleboro Plainville Wrentham Bristol Norfolk Real estate child support custody divorce real estate homestead title insurance Attleboro lawyer legal law office modification contempt estate plan planning will power of attorney old republic title company living will Norton Franklin Bellingham Canton Easton Marin School Association Representative Town Meeting Junior League of Boston Contractor Disputes Personal Injury Landlord Tenant  Deed paternity South Attleboro Cub Scout pack 65

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Truth.

Truth.

I recently read Good to Great (2001) by Jim Collins.  Although the book is geared towards corporate executives, the messages can be carried into any career or life, in general. Some of the highlights are as follows:
1.” Great leaders combine tremendous personal humility with unwavering professional resolve;”
2.  “Companies that are trying to become great must force themselves to confront brutal facts and difficult realities in order to address them;” and
3. “The transformation from good to great does not come in a dramatic swoop or sudden action.”

I recently participated in a creative writing class. During that class, we had a discussion about humility as an essential aspect of being genuine.  Whether in business or in every day life, we tend to trust people who can admit when they are wrong or need assistance, because we, ourselves, are not perfect or indestructible.  During the class, I couldn’t help but also reflect on the book.

When I first started to practice law in December, 2004, I was over confident. While in law school, I had worked for as a student district attorney and for some amazing attorneys; of course, I thought that I knew everything that there is to know about practicing.

On the very first day that my practice was open, I received a referral from a close law school friend. Opposing counsel on the case was one of the most prominent attorneys in Boston, who (literally) started practicing before I was born. Within a month, I felt out of my league; while my experience was great, it was not that of a seasoned attorney. The brutal truth of admitting to myself that I had failed at being instantly brilliant was painful. Only once I admitted that I was lost could I truly ask for help and grow in to who I am eleven years later.

Sometimes the truth is painful, but it can be the gateway from good to great.

**This newsletter is dedicated to Lisa Hutchison, who taught the creative writing seminar and colleagues who never make me feel foolish.**

 

North Attleboro Plainville Wrentham Bristol Norfolk Real estate child support custody divorce real estate homestead title insurance Attleboro lawyer legal law office modification contempt estate plan planning will power of attorney old republic title company living will Norton Franklin Bellingham Canton Easton Marin School Association Representative Town Meeting Junior League of Boston Contractor Disputes Personal Injury Landlord Tenant  Deed paternity South Attleboro Cub Scout pack 65

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Seven.

How many signs for homes for sale do you see on a daily basis? It seems like they are everywhere right now. On my way home this week, I counted seven within a two mile area.

With so many realtors vying for your attention, how do you know who to call if you want to buy or sell your house? The best thing to do is to get a referral from someone that you trust. From my perspective, the two most important traits in realtors (and anyone providing a service) are really good communication skills and attention to detail.

I recently did a closing with a realtor involved in her first transaction. The most helpful thing that she did was tells me that this was her first closing, so that I wouldn’t assume that she knew everything I needed her to do to prepare; Although she was green to the process, she had excellent communication skills, which made the transaction seamless and a pleasure for all involved.

Similarly, a very experienced realtor that I am working with identified a potential, significant issue with a property that would have effected the use and enjoyment of the premises, before the purchase and sale was even initiated; because of her diligence, the Buyers saved a lot of time and money, not to mention stress.

On that theme, I found a recent article discussing the top 5 signs what makes a realtor not the one that you want to work with: http://www.propertycluster.com/blog/bad-real-estate-agents-top-5-signs/