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Somebody’s Watching Me

Someone’s Watching Me

Do you remember the Rockwell and Michael Jackson song from the 1980’s? For some strange reason, we’ve heard the song a handful of times within the last week. Ironically, one member of our team has also been dealing with credit card information being stolen, likely by a digital pickpocket.

Cyber crime is a criminal act done to commit fraud by stealing personal information, resources, or money by using technology. Did you know that smart phones can be used to steal information from you?  Any time you see someone with their phone out near you, the potential is there that they are trying to hack into either your cell phone or scan the credit cards in your wallet. Unfortunately, there is no way to be able to figure out who is a criminal versus someone who is merely looking at a text. Here’s what you can you do to protect yourself:

* Make sure you have reliable spyware installed on both your computer and cellular telephone;
* Choose strong passwords, change them often, and make them all different;
* Be cautious when using public Wifi or your own hotspot;
* Close your browsers and turn them off when you aren’t using them;
* Use a RFID protected wallet;
* Do not give out bank account or wiring information unless you confirm who is requesting it and the end destination;
* Review credit card and bank statements on a regular basis;
* If in doubt, block the person requesting to connect on social media or double check to see if you are already connected on that platform; and
* Be very cautious if someone makes an unsolicited telephone call you asking for identifying information, even if they introduce themselves as a representative from your credit card company, mortgage lender, bank, or similar.

Essentially, take the time to think before you act and trust your gut.

As always, please let us know if you have questions about this or anything other legal matters that you may have.

 

Helpful Links

Department of Homeland Security:
https://www.dhs.gov/topic/combating-cyber-crime

Old Republic National Title:
https://www.oldrepublictitle.com/panational/newsletter/Cybercrime2.htm

Information of digital pick pocketing:
http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/digital-pickpockets

You know you want to listen to the song….:
https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=somebody%27s+watching+me+song#id=1&vid=2d3209714264f5fd355174f9205181ad&action=click

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Five Rings.

We are going on a limb with this one: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen likely have a prenuptial agreement. We haven’t seen it, but hopefully, he made provisions for him to retain all of his Super Bowl rings and his MVP trophies if their marriage ends.

 

If at the time of the marriage, Brady disclosed that he owns three Super Bowl rings and a couple of trophies, but didn’t make provisions for the future? In that case, his wife may have a claim for rings and trophies for the fourth and fifth as marital assets. OUCH (especially for number five).

 

We love prenuptials for average couples because they create an opportunity for them to have uncomfortable conversations about their priorities and financial future. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you have some savings or a home? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then a prenuptial is an important legal protection for you.

 

Protections typically include division of property, alimony, debt, life insurance, health insurance, and what financial support children from a prior relationship might get during the marriage or when the parent dies. In order for a prenuptial to be valid, the following conditions must be met:

  •          Both parties must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities;
  •          The agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time entered into by the parties;
  •          Both parties must be represented by counsel;
  •          Both parties must sign the document prior to the wedding;
  •          Both parties must sign the document of their own free will;
  •          Both parties must have the capacity or ability to sign the document; and
  •          The agreement must also be fair and reasonable at the time of divorce.

 

Given the second look at the time of divorce, it would be unlikely that our GOAT would lose his fourth and fifth rings if they were not protected in a prenuptial. That would just be unfair and unreasonable, wouldn’t it?

 

On to SIX!

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What Happens Next? Closing 101

Yea….you found a new home! You have so much to do. You need to pack. You may also be busy shopping for necessities, such as furniture, towels and dishes. You may also need to hurry up and WAIT??

Closing attorneys, lenders, and real estate agents do their best to make closings happen on the date stated on your Purchase and Sales Agreement (“P&S”). We work as a team, along with many other professionals. During this time, lenders coordinate with appraisers and insurance companies. Agents insure that certificates are obtained and utilities paid. The closing attorney teams with engineers, title researchers, local tax officials, and sellers (or their attorneys). A good team of agents, lenders, and attorneys will be in constant communication with one another and will be focused on the same goal of closing on time.

Once everything is ready, your lender will send a Closing Disclosure for your approval. The Closing Disclosure contains all costs and credits involved in the transaction. Buyers must wait three days after the document is released to “close” or purchase the home.

What happens next? Make sure that you have your photo identification ready, your funds available, and stretch those fingers!

Typical closings involve 150(ish) pages of paper, some from the lender and others from the attorney. Some of the documents will be familiar to you, like your Closing Disclosure, tax forms and loan application; other documents may be less familiar to you, like an Owner’s Title Policy or Declaration of Homestead. The closing attorney will highlight the content, show you where to sign or initial, and (sometimes) date. The entire process usually moves very quickly and is done under one hour.

Once the documents are signed, some need to be recorded at your local Registry of Deeds. As soon as that happens, you are officially a homeowner. Congratulations!!

** In most cases, a Closing Disclosure is used; however, there are exceptions, such as a property being paid for in cash and reverse mortgages.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Can I Ask You A Question?”

Have you ever noticed that when a doctor walks into a room, everyone suddenly has medical ailments? The question usually starts with, “I hate to ask you this when you’re not at work, BUT….”

We have a sweet as pie cousin who happens to be a pediatrician. We try not to ask her questions, but, inevitably, small talk among parents often leads into something medical. As we kick ourselves for letting the words escape our lips, she is very always gracious to share her opinion and experience as a parent, family member, and (yes) pediatrician.

The same thing happens regardless of what you do for work. Everyone has a situation that they want to discuss or question that they want to ask. Like our cousin, we are always happy to help and share our knowledge and experience. So, before you ask, we will share the answers to our most often asked real estate questions:

“I heard that mortgage rates have gone up lately. Should I wait to buy or refinance a house until the interest rates drop?”

It is still a great time to buy a new home or refinance your current home. Yes, rates have increased very slightly over the last few months, but they are still really low at this point. We have all been really spoiled with the ridiculously low mortgage rates for the last few years. Have you ever asked your parents or grandparents about when they purchased their home?  They probably told you that their house cost $26,000.00, but also that their interest rate was 17-20%. With mortgage rates still so slow and such a variety of lending programs available, it is definitely worth exploring whether it makes financial sense to buy or refinance now, before the rates rise.

“Should I have an attorney review my Purchase and Sales (“P&S”)?

In a profession where our answer is frequently “it depends,” our answer to this question is it is very wise to do so. The most important reason is that, once it is signed, you have committed to the terms and cannot change them.

Most real estate agents use a standard form created by REBA, the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts. Are the forms any good? Yes, but our experience guides anticipation all of the legal problems that might arise during your transaction and which cannot be added to the document by an agent. We attach addendum which offer important, additional protections, related to condition of the premises, delivery of Deed, survey review, potential defects to title, ability to obtain property and Title Insurance, damage to the property, deposits, contingencies for mortgage or sale of other property, and other important aspects of the home.

“Do I need Title Insurance?”
We often get this question at the closing table. Lenders typically require a policy for the loan and which is paid by the buyer.  An Owner’s title policy is optional; however, it’s one of the smartest investments that you can make in your home and it is reasonably priced, especially when compared to the cost of fixing issues that might arise later.

For purchases, we look at a 50 year history of the premises. Even the most meticulous search may not unveil hidden risks with your “title (aka ownership),” because those risks have not yet become evident by the time of closing. Some specific hidden risks that can be protected by Title Insurance are:

* forgery;
* fraud or mis-representation in connection to the execution of the documents;
* undue pressure on the seller or personal representative of an estate;
* false impersonation by people claiming to own the property;
* incorrect statement about the marital status of a Seller (which is more likely if the premises is being sold during a divorce);
* issues related to a seller who has passed away, including disclosed or missing heirs, birth of additional potential heirs after the creation of the will, misinterpretation of a will or trust, and estates which were not properly probated;
* inadequate survey;
* incorrect legal description;
* non-delivery of deeds;
* claims or liens not yet on record;
* confusion regarding similar or incorrect names;
* delivery of deeds after the death of a grantor;
* incorrect indexing at the Registry of Deeds;
* unrecorded easements; and
* zoning violations.

As always, please call or email us if you have any questions regarding this or anything else.

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Parenting on Pot: Custody under the Massachusetts Marijuana Tax Act

The perspectives of judges regarding marijuana use by a parent has been easing over the last 10 years as decriminalization and medical use have become our norm. With recent changes, some have asked us how it will effect custody and visitation. From a recent news blast from the Bristol Probate and Family Court:

Section 7 (d) of the Marijuana Tax Act addresses personal use of marijuana and its effect on child custody proceedings and provides:
Absent clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person’s actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety of a minor child, neither the presence of cannabinoid components or metabolites in a person’s bodily fluids nor conduct permitted under this chapter related to the possession, consumption, transfer, cultivation, manufacture or sale of marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories by a person charged with the well-being of a child shall form the sole or primary basis for substantiation, service plans, removal or termination or for denial of custody, visitation or any other parental right or responsibility.
Section 7 (d) of Chapter 94G follows established case law regarding the use of marijuana and child custody proceedings. There needs to be clear and convincing evidence of a nexus between a parent’s drug use and the parent’s ability to parent a child in order for the parent to be found unfit and parental rights terminated.

For more information, please check out our website www.wjslegal.com or call us at (508)319-1529.

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