“I think I need a Quick Claim Deed”
I get many inquiries on this topic. People want to transfer property without consideration (i.e. no money is changing hands) for many different reasons. A couple has gotten divorced, and one of the parties gets the home; a parent dies, and remaining child(ren) want the house deeded to them; an elderly parent wants to transfer their home to a child or grandchild; the owner of a rental property wants to transfer ownership to a company they own.
The actual term is Quit Claim Deed. With this type of transfer, you are giving the other person whatever rights you may have in a property, and subject to any liens or title defects that may affect the property. The only thing that changes is ownership. If there was a mortgage before, there is still a mortgage attached to the property. If there was a lawsuit against a prior owner that affects the property, it still affects the property. There are no warranties as to the title.
A few questions, in no particular order:
1) What is your process when creating a plan/will for your clients?
Typically I chat with one or both people on the phone and answer preliminary or specific questions, depending on the family. Then I send them a questionnaire via email, which will give me all the information I need to prepare documents. They complete the questionnaire and email back to me. I prepare documents and send to client via email for review. Once they have looked over everything we talk again to discuss further questions or corrections/ changes. Then we schedule a meeting for signing, most often at the client’s home. At that point the process is complete.
2) What documents do you recommend we should have? What’s included in our estate planning/will?
I don’t know your financial situation but for most folks of average means (primary asset is the house, you have life insurance, 401k, etc. but nothing extreme) a “simple will” is best in my personal professional opinion. The term “Estate Planning” usually includes powers of attorney and advanced medical directive, as well as a will. All of these documents are included in a “will package”.
3) Do you recommend my husband and I have our own wills and a joint will?
There is no such thing as a joint will. You must each have your own.
4) If something were to happen, what is your role, if any?
My role can be as the person who takes your will through probate, or nothing at all. It’s really up to your executor.
5) Will you guide us in selecting a trustee/personal representative? Should we have one or does my husband choose one and I choose one?
Sure, I’ll give you guidance on that choice. You will each have a primary and alternate executor and power of attorney, and they can be different. The trustee and guardian for the children should be the same in both, however.
6) How much will this cost us?
My typical fee is about $550-650 . Half payment due when you decide you want to work with me and send me your completed questionnaire, the other half due at signing.
7) Do we have to pay a fee to you to keep you as our attorney?
No fees unless I actually do work. Many families call me now and again with questions with no additional fees. I tell them when a “simple question” becomes something I need to bill them for.
Do you have immediate availability to take on a new client, particularly to meet at our home? Is there an add’l fee for in-home consultation/work?
Yes, I can help you now. One in-home meeting for signing is included in my “average” fee. There would be additional charge if you wanted more than that. I would suggest we start with a conference call with your husband, you, and me. Most of the time that covers all questions.
9) What else should we know about you, your firm and your services?
I have been an attorney for 18 years, and I’ve had my own solo practice for 9 years. I also had a real estate settlement company and worked full time until my daughter was born in 2008. After the birth of my son in 2010 I work at home and about 15 hours per week. My schedule is flexible and I am available for after hours phone calls or meetings. Most often I am able to accommodate time deadlines without issue but since my children are my primary responsibility if there were an emergency or unexpected issue with them I may have to postpone an appointment or delivery of documents. I tell you this in advance because I’m a solo practitioner, and I have no “associate” attorneys to cover for me in that situation.
This month my daughter will be six months old, I can hardly believe it! Motherhood is a little harder – but a whole lot more wonderful – than I imagined. I salute all those women who are working full time in “traditional” jobs. Up until now, I have been able to be with my daughter almost all the time, since I have the flexibility to work at home and bring her to the office whenever I want.
But now that my daughter is more interactive and demands a little more attention, I realize that it will not be possible for me to run two businesses and be with her as much as I would like. I was making copies of a settlement package and putting everything together to drop in Fed Ex the other day, with my daughter fussing for my attention. It was then I realized that I need to be doing what is really important to me, and that I need to simplify the work aspect of my life.
With all of this in mind, I have sold my ownership interest in Meridian Title, LLC, to my longtime friend and partner, Raymond R. Sidney-Smith. I will continue to provide attorney services to Meridian Title, LLC as needed, conduct settlements, and marketing for the company. These are all the things I enjoy about the settlement business and I’m excited to work in that capacity. All operational and administrative aspects of Meridian Title, LLC will be handled by its new sole owner, Raymond R. Sidney-Smith.
My law practice will continue in the same location and the same manner of practice as always. In the coming months I hope to conduct more marketing of the law firm by way of informal talks, among other things. Since my name is no longer Jennifer E. Holt, you can expect to see a change of my law firm name as well.