Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

Buying a house is a huge investment. Unless you build the house for your family, there may always be some things that you don’t know about your house before you buy it or for years thereafter.
 
Imagine that of one of the previous owners had died years earlier. The Seller may or may not have actual knowledge of anything that occurred prior to their ownership. Nonetheless, the Seller has no obligation to
tell the Buyer if the person died in the home unless the Buyer asks a direct, specific question about it (ie. Has anyone ever died in this house?).
 
Massachusetts law puts the burden on the Buyer to ask the “right”
questions of the Seller. The most significant way that most Buyers do their due diligence is by getting a very thorough inspection; however, there are two exceptions to this rule:
 
1. Lead paint: Under Section 197a, prior to signing a Purchase and Sales, the Seller must provide a signed copy of a lead paint disclosure. 
The Property Transfer Notification Certification advises the Buyer about
the general dangers of lead paint and provides any information that the Seller might have about its presence in the property. This is one of the few documents that the real estate agents must sign during the entire
transaction, but they are only confirming that they presented the
information to the Buyer; and
 
2. Septic: Sellers must disclose whether there is a septic system on the property. Prior to closing, the Sellers must also provide a Title V which confirms that the system is working properly.  Many Sellers will have the Title V inspection done prior to listing their home to avoid any potential issues that might be raised.
 
Some Buyer questions may also be answered by a simple Google search.  Most sellers would not disclose if the house had some friendly (or unfriendly) ghosts; however, a simple online search might provide an answer to a curious Buyer.
 
Is there anything that you would want or not want to know about
your house?
 
As always, please let us know if you have any questions about this
or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John & Faye      

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You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em.

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.”
– Kenny Rogers

Mortgages are a bit like gambling. You never know when the “perfect time” to initiate a new mortgage is, because there is always a risk that interest rates could go down slightly right after you sign the documents; however, there is always a risk that rates could also rise. The good news is that you can always refinance if rates drop, so unlike gambling, you can “fix” a bad hand.

Right now is a great time to buy (or refinance if you haven’t already done so). Mortgage rates are still really low and  housing prices have stabilized. Of course, nobody wants to pay more than they have to for their home. Here is how to “win” the mortgage game:

1. Connect with a really good loan officer.* He or she will help you to obtain the best mortgage rate available based on your income, liabilities, assets and credit score;
2. Correct your credit score, if needed;
3. Consider a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30 year. The monthly payments are often only slightly higher, but you can save a ton of money by minimizing how many years you are paying interest;
4. Take your pre-approval and start looking for a new home with a realtor; and
4. Retain an awesome attorney to close your mortgage!

Curious about the current mortgage rates? Check out this website:
https://themortgagereports.com/47095/mortgage-rates-today-january-21-2019-plus-lock-recommendations

Wondering about how much a mortgage might cost? For a ball park range only, peek at this one:
www.mortgagecalculator.org

If you just want to listen to Kenny Rogers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyARoGIzmKk

As always, please let us know if we can help with a real estate or any other legal matter.

Regards,
John & Faye
* If you are in need, we are happy to recommend a really good loan officer. 

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Pliability.

Pliability.
/ˌplīəˈbilədē/
noun: the quality of being easily bent; flexibility.
– Google Dictionary

If you live in New England, the word “pliability” may trigger thoughts about Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero. Arguably, Brady has been able to play into his 40’s and gain legendary status because of his commitment to pliability. 

Pliability is a must for the family of all professional athletes and coaches. Like having someone enlisted in the military, it is a full family commitment to crazy, constantly moving schedules.

Brady is not unique in that his family is blended; he has a child from a previous relationship and two children with his wife. What would happen if the mother of his oldest son wasn’t pliable?

No Super Bowl or parade for the kid even though his dad is the GOAT. Without knowing any of the parties or the specifics of their parenting agreement, it is unlikely that Brady always has visitation on the first Sunday of every February or the following week reserved so his son can ride in a parade (though it might be smart to do so).  Without some pliability by his mom,  the poor kid would miss these extraordinary, once (or six times) in a lifetime, experiences. While we realize that Brady’s specific concerns are not typical, they actually are pretty common.

Take the fairly typical “overnights every other weekend and dinner once or twice during the week” scenario. What if there is a big family event that the child would miss because it’s not the “right”  weekend for the parent?  What if Mom or Dad travel for work?  What if one of the parents or the child(ren) are sick? Ideally, both parents are pliable and do what is best for the child(ren).

Co-parenting can be bit trickier if the parents live far apart from one another. Typical visits are longer in duration, but less frequent. For some parents, it means commuting back and forth to where their child lives. In this scenario, the local parent should really be pliable if the parent shows up late, arrives early or needs to reschedule due to weather. 

Simply put, there is no “one size fits all” for co-parenting schedules and life happens. When developing a plan, the parents  should consider the needs, preferences and best interest of the child.  They should also be (wait for it) PLIABLE.

As always, please let us know if we can help you with developing a parenting agreement that works for you or any other legal matter.

It’s All Your Fault.

Divorce can be messy. More often than not, people just grow apart or want different things from life; however, it is not unusual that clients come to us talking about adultery by one or both of the parties.  What should you do if your spouse cheats on you? 

  • Chose to work work together to save your marriage. We realize that this is almost never the first reaction, but for some couples, it is an option;
  • Have a consultation with a reputable attorney who can explain the divorce process and your rights; 
  • File a Complaint for Divorce, either jointly or contested, stating that there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; or
  • File a Complaint for Divorce with fault. You can request that the court order a divorce based on many types of fault, including desertion, gross intoxication, adultery, non-support, impotency or extended incarceration. Some people feel that it is important to them, for a variety of reasons, to file in this manner. Because the petitioner essentially has to prove that his spouse is “guilty.” litigation typically takes a bit longer and is more costly.

Conduct is one of 34 factors that the courts use to determine the division of marital assets under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208, Section 34.  How much does conduct of the parties really matter?  It depends, but can be somewhat punitive and restorative.

Consider and compare these two situations:
1.  Husband has purchased one casual dinner for his girlfriend per week over the last few months; 
2.  Wife has bought a dinner a week for her boyfriend for the last two years and all dinners were at the Four Seasons in different cities.

Different situations, right? Is the likely financial impact different? Yes. Very. 

Some states have taken the fault option a step further and allow for a spouse to sue the girlfriend or boyfriend involved: 

https://www.wcvb.com/article/calling-all-homewreckers-law-in-6-states-reminds-folks-not-to-break-up-marriages/26326601

What are your thoughts on this?

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Shutdown.

Working for the government is typically awesome. Most state and federal employees get incredible health and life insurance benefits.  They also have fairly “normal” hours, without necessity to check email on nights or weekends. These benefits are tossed on the back burner when there is a government shutdown.

Unfortunately, these shutdowns have become all too common, under both Democratic and Republican leadership. In late 1995-1996, the federal shutdown lasted over a month.  What happens to support obligations during these periods?

Child support and alimony obligations survive government shutdowns.  What should you do if a shutdown or layoff effects you?

The essentials:
Make sure that you have a rainy day fund. Regardless of whether you are self employed or working for someone else, there will certainly be an amount of time during your career where your income is less than usual or non-existent. Just like your rent or mortgage, you should plan for how you will pay your support obligations during that time; and

Communicate with your ex. We know, we know….you don’t want to talk with your ex, but it may save you unnecessary time in court.  If your ex is aware of the situation and you communicate your concerns to them, they may be more likely to work with you to figure out a reasonable solution rather than just bringing you in to court. In most cases, both parties can come up with a reasonable, short term agreement on their own. 

If those options don’t work:
If you are the payor, you could file a Complaint for Modification. If your loss of income continues for an extended period of time, it may worth it to file a Complaint for Modification based on a material (ie. significant) change of circumstance. Child support can always be changed, depending on custody and income; however, it typically takes a month or so to have matters heard so the change should be fairly long term; and

If you are the payee, you could file a Complaint for Contempt. If the loss of support continues for an extended period of time, it may be worth it to file a request that the court acknowledges that someone is in violation of an agreement (ie. Contempt). There is no minimum amount of late payments that must be accrued prior to filing, but judges usually look for a pattern or significant amount of late payments. Filing could lead to a finding that the person is in violation of the agreement, but the judge could also lower payments or defer to a payment plan on the arrears based on an inability to pay.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions about child support and alimony or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John & Faye