Estate Planning & Why You need an Attorney

Presenter: Bill Askin speaking on the masters of homeownership show

Note: Askin & Hooker Law produced and recorded this webinar for the ear and it was designed to be watched and heard. If you are able to, we strongly recommend watching the webinar which will include emotion and emphasis that isn’t obvious when reading a transcript. Our transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and humans and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. This is not meant to be legal advice.

Marleny Cruz:

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Masters of Home Ownership, with of course, your host, Marleny Cruz and-

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Jeffrey Hoebee.

Marleny Cruz:

Come on Jeff.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Jeff Hoebee. 

Marleny Cruz:

That’s better, I’m sure-

Jeffrey Hoebee:

All the energy, she is just wearing me out. I got to take a knee.

Marleny Cruz:

Welcome to the show, guys. Today we have an awesome guest here with us today. His name is Bill Askin, and he has 25 years of experience in practicing real property law. Welcome to the show, Bill.

Bill Askin:

Thank you. Thank you. It’s great to be here. Thanks.

Marleny Cruz:

You project your voice nicely. Have you done radio before?

Bill Askin:

I have not. This is my initial inaugural appearance on the radio.

Marleny Cruz:

Yeah, and is with SOS Radio, I’m very happy about that. Well, why don’t you-

Jeffrey Hoebee:

We waited until there was a hurricane to bring him in.

Marleny Cruz:

Right. Jeff, why don’t you talk to us a little bit about Bill.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Bill has an office… You don’t mind me saying, it’s huge.

Bill Askin:

It’s not that big.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

come on, he’s kidding. In Sparta. I’ve known of Bill forever. How long have you been in Sparta, would you say?

Bill Askin:

Boy, I’d give my age away if I told you, but my whole life. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Wow. That’s a really long time. 

Bill Askin:

Thanks, partner. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

There you go. That’s at least 29 years. 

Bill Askin:

Yeah, right. Exactly. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

You’re welcome. It’s been nothing but smooth roads. Now, Bill will hide under the table… You can hire attorneys that might not-

Marleny Cruz:

Deliver.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

… deliver exactly what you’re looking for. But Bill has a team and I mean, a team of people. It’s a football team, would you say? How many players are on your team?

Bill Askin:

It’s a full staffed football team with a few players on the bench. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That’s right.

Marleny Cruz:

I love it.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

And a kicker.

Bill Askin:

And a kicker, yep.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

You see that? That’s why-

Marleny Cruz:

I love the humor by the way. Nice.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

It literally is-

Bill Askin:

We didn’t even practice this.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

No, this is a very… But that is… I come on here every week and I’m either talking about foreclosure crisis coming up or buying your home, your credit and this and that and the other thing. But the reason why I didn’t ask, I begged to have him here because he is the pinnacle of what you would want when you are buying, more than likely, the biggest investment of your life. 

There is a rare few people that buy buildings that are 10s of millions of dollars but those people are far and few between compared to how many houses are being sold, for God sakes. This is one of the scariest things for some people. From my side of it, doing their mortgage, panic stricken constantly because of the unknown. Well, from asking a hooker side of things, they make everybody go… Do you know what I mean? They take the air out of that big balloon, when they start making that noise like they’re about to pop, it’s gone. That is priceless to me, because when you or don’t hire an attorney and just say, oh, the title company can handle it, that’s your favorite, right?

Bill Askin:

No, not necessarily. It’s not when they don’t hire an attorney to represent them buying something but also when the other side doesn’t hire an attorney either. That can be a real nightmare. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That is an absolute-

Marleny Cruz:

Wait, let me get something straight. Not only is it uncomfortable when or difficult when someone doesn’t hire an attorney on their end, but also on the other end. You need both ends to have an attorney.

Bill Askin:

That’s a common misconception, there is no law or rule that says you have to have an attorney to buy or sell real estate or buy or sell a house. 

Marleny Cruz:

Why have one? 

Bill Askin:

Well, first of all, like Jeff mentioned, for most people buying any type of real estate, that’s the single largest purchase or investment that they’ll make in their lifetime. Again, whether it’s a first time home buyer buying a starter home or whether it’s a serious investor or repeat investor buying investment properties, commercial properties, multiple multifamily properties, things like that. Those are pretty complex contracts, and transactions, often involving financing, where somebody may be pledging assets to a bank, that the bank could take back from them if they don’t fully cooperate with and honor all the terms of the loan documents. 

What happens, in our case sometimes is, is somebody might say, well, I’m not sure I’m going to have an attorney. The other side has a lawyer, and that lawyer will take care of everything. My typical response to that person inquiring, oftentimes as a mortgage broker or a realtor saying, “Hey, Bill, I got somebody that needs a lawyer, they’re not sure if they want to hire somebody or not.”

The first thing I say is, “Are you a lawyer?”

Marleny Cruz:

Right. That’s a good question.

Bill Askin:

They usually say no, and I say, “Well, are you aware that the other side of this transaction, whether they’re buying or selling real estate, are you aware that the party on the other side has an attorney who has been practicing law for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, and is an expert, and they will take advantage of you if you don’t have legal representation to review all the documents and contracts and affidavits and forms that you need to sign? Whether you’re on the buy side or the sell side?”

The misconception about having to have an attorney generally comes from residential contracts that are written by realtors. Licensed realtors in the state of New Jersey are required to have a contingency built into the realtor form contract that makes that contract, the realtor form contract contingent upon a three day attorney review period, within which the buyer and the seller are advised to have an attorney review the contract that’s been prepared by a residential realtor.

Marleny Cruz:

Advised but not forced to-

Bill Askin:

Correct, not required, but it’s an advisement. It’s the realtor’s disclaimer that says, hey, I’m not a lawyer. This is a very complex contract for the purchase or sale of a very valuable investment. Therefore, you should seek legal counsel before you formalize the contract. The contract is not formalized or legally binding against the buyer or the seller until the three day attorney review period expires, or until it is approved in writing by an attorney for the buyer and the seller.

Marleny Cruz:

Okay, wow. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That form is right on top of the contract. A, that’s how important that it is. The second thing is, is that you don’t want to get stuck in something where, I just had a deal where the people didn’t have a lawyer to review the documents and found out that they’re halfway through, luckily, I’m not doing this alone, and there’s a shared septic. The septic’s in the neighbor’s lawn.

Marleny Cruz:

Haven’t we heard this story before.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

It would have took you two minutes, and now they’re going to have to-

Bill Askin:

Well, I hope the buyer for the property that does not have the septic on their lot, has an easement and a maintenance agreement for access to the septic on the other guys lot and an agreement between the two property owners as to who’s responsible for maintaining it, and for the cost of maintaining it.

Marleny Cruz:

Most people don’t know.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

It’s also no on both of them, because they called me up to say, “What do we do now?” I go, “There should be a document filed that says this is who pays… ” It’s like a shared driveway agreement. Who’s going to plow it, who’s going to fix it. Guess what, there isn’t one. Now, if you go to the guy and say, “Hey… ” You run the risk of having a house without a septic.

Bill Askin:

It could be a mess.

Marleny Cruz:

That’s a big mess.

Bill Askin:

They could move in and the next day the guy cuts off his pipe. No one has access to the septic without the right agreements.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

They could charge them $500 a month for it, or whatever. 

Marleny Cruz:

What has been some of the ugliest, craziest stories that you can tell us and share with us about somebody didn’t have an attorney?

Bill Askin:

First of all, another just piece of information or advice for people, the attorney review contingency, that attorney review process, again, only applies to contracts that are drafted by realtors. If you have a couple of neighbors or a couple people that know each other, and they do their own contract, and they sign it, that’s legally binding upon executing the contract. 

Attorney review only applies to realtor form contracts or realtor prepared contracts. Whether the realtor prepared contracts or contracts that don’t have realtors involved, if there is not an attorney involved, they can be very, very risky, and some really bad results can come of those things. One of which is what Jeff just mentioned is where whoever the parties are, don’t do a title search, and they don’t search the records, the deeds, hopefully the easements that would allow permanent, lifetime access to that septic. If you don’t do the proper research, you could end up buying property that doesn’t have a septic or doesn’t have legal access to the use of a septic, which could be cut off at any time.

Marleny Cruz:

Wow. 

Bill Askin:

There are a lot of… I’m sorry, go ahead. 

Marleny Cruz:

After that period, it’s too late, right? You can’t do anything.

Bill Askin:

Well, it’s not too late, you can always try to negotiate something with the neighbor and put it in place after the fact. But at that point, if the neighbor knows there is no document, and that he has something very valuable in his property that the new neighbor next door wants, you think he’s going to give it away for free. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

No.

Bill Askin:

Most likely he’s not. But in general, some of the other reasons you need an attorney is to do the proper legal research. Number one may seem obvious. You got a contract with Lisa, and Lisa is selling her property to you? How do you know Lisa owns that property? She said she did, and I signed the contract, and I gave her some money, and she gave me a deed. What if it turns out she didn’t own that property? You’re stuck without having a lawyer do the necessary research and confirm who owns the property. 

Second, what if you buy that property from Lisa, she gives you the deed, you give her the money. You close. A couple of weeks later, a bill from a mortgage company shows up in the mail. Maybe it’s not addressed to you, as the new property owner, it’s addressed to somebody else, but do you think that bill for that mortgage still has to be paid? It sure does. That mortgage is still on the property that you just bought, and it has not been discharged.

Marleny Cruz:

Now that’s your responsibility?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That’s the ultimate [inaudible 00:12:40]

Bill Askin:

It’s not you personally as the owner of that property, it was the personal responsibility of the former owner of the property, most likely. But what if the former owner of the property says, I sold the house, I get out from that note, I don’t have a personal responsibility. What are they going to do, come after me. We’ve seen this happen. 

What if they don’t pay, and now you as the new owner of that property have the risk and the likelihood that the bank will now foreclose on property that you own for a debt that’s owed by the prior owner? The bank could take that property from you to satisfy their lien on the property. Same thing could happened with property taxes.

Marleny Cruz:

That’s terrible.

 

Bill Askin:

You buy a property and the former owner hasn’t paid their property taxes. You don’t know it, you didn’t have a lawyer review everything. Now you buy a property with a tax lien on it for whether it’s $1,000 or $10,000, or $80,000. You buy it subject to those taxes, and if you don’t pay now, the town can’t sue you, because you’re not in [privia 00:13:45] contract with them, but they can sue you to foreclose on the property and then sell the property to pay the taxes.

Marleny Cruz:

Wow. You can’t dispute that this wasn’t my time, it wasn’t my bill, it was not my responsibility-

Bill Askin:

Correct, it becomes a lien on the property. Now, you’re the owner of the property and you risk losing the property.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

No, that’s a horror story. That happens to people. 

Marleny Cruz:

That’s terrible. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Because, believe it or not, people get scammed and duped and sometimes unwillingly, and sometimes willingly when they get convinced, oh, you don’t need a lawyer. We’re friends. We can just do this together. Luckily, we’re not here to worry about those people today, because those people made the real bad and ruined it as they say. But with today’s market being so busy, I can imagine you probably work maybe a couple minutes after 5:00 every day.

Bill Askin:

Several hours typically and Saturday and Sunday.

Marleny Cruz:

Wow, Saturday and Sunday as well?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I can verify that is an absolute fact. With the attorney review period where people can actually… Here’s a fun fact, super hard to get someone to accept your offer, and you could still lose the house while it’s in attorney review.

Marleny Cruz:

No way. There’s no protection during that time-

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Not yet, because it’s not a contract, right?

Bill Askin:

Jeff mentioned in the super hot real estate market we have right now, and in a super hot market or in a super not so hot market, it’s always important to have an attorney. But in a super hot market, more unique issues come up. One of which is multiple offers. We have so many, many transactions these days that come to us after somebody accepts an offer or gets an offer accepted, but they were in multiple offers on the property. 

Generally, we hear from the realtors, this was a multiple offer situation, we got this deal done. Now, we want to get out of attorney review as quickly as possible. That leads to the second point. Well, let me finish the first point. When you’re in a market like this, it’s more important than ever to have an attorney, a real estate attorney on your side to help you navigate through the multiple offers in a particular property, in a particular situation. Because the most money is not always the best offer. I guarantee you that, the most… Jeff, right?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I would have got a tattoo that would say that because it’s absolutely the absolute truth. The most money, those are usually the ones that crumble the fastest. 

Marleny Cruz:

Wow. I’m seeing you clap over there. You were very excited about that point.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

No, it was the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. Go on.

Bill Askin:

The most money can and sometimes does come from the most unqualified buyer. 

Marleny Cruz:

That’s why they’re giving the most money, right? That’s why-

Bill Askin:

To make it look better, right. Or the most money may come from a buyer who has to sell a house before they can afford to buy your house. Do you want to risk taking your house off the market, because somebody offered you a lot of money. But that person may not be totally qualified, and may need to sell their house before they can buy yours. Or, and not to knock Jeff out of the equation here, but the most qualified buyer would be somebody with a significant down payment, with nothing to sell. They can buy your house with, they don’t have a house to sell or their house is already sold or it’s under contract or they can buy your house as a second home. 

You have the most qualified, nothing to sell, and what would make it even sweeter? Sorry, Jeff.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

It’s fine.

Bill Askin:

The buyer doesn’t need a mortgage. You got a cash buyer. Those are good things to look for when you’re selling a house and you have multiple offers, don’t always just jump to the most money. Who’s qualified and if they’re getting a mortgage, you make sure they’re pre-approved for that mortgage with a guy like Jeff. If they’re getting a mortgage, you want to see that it’s not 100% financing. 

Marleny Cruz:

Okay, talk to us about that.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

The fragile loans. There are so many contingencies that go into what’s a USDA loan. The USDA sometimes runs out of money.

Bill Askin:

Which can be a form of 100% financing.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

And it is 100%-

Bill Askin:

VA and USDA are probably the two, right?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Lucky for me, I don’t do too many USDA loans, and I think it’s mainly because of the market for the last year, houses are more… Because you have income limitations with a USDA loan, and the houses are just… Because everybody has a car payment. Listen, if you have a $500 car payment, that’s $100,000 of a house that… I hope that car is really dope. 

But I know when I’m doing a pre-approval letter and getting everyone pre-qualified and their USDA loan and there’s 38 other offers and I’m writing my letter, I’m going, this is a waste of toner. I have boxes of those files, and it’s because it just doesn’t work. If they took this offer over… I know I don’t give pre-approvals without them being legitimate. But the thing you’re talking about, about some people because I hear the logic of the other side from the buyers, where they’ll say, everybody’s going to be offering, let’s say, 280. We’ll go into 325 and then beat the house up-

Bill Askin:

On the inspections.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

… on the inspections and knock it back down again. 

Marleny Cruz:

People actually do that? Jesus.

Bill Askin:

They do. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Yes they do. That’s why you need a real estate attorney that handles this every day. This game gets played, I would say on a day that ends in a why. It’s a thing, and it was because half the time, or maybe even more, it comes from, well, this guy offered me 325, and the house is worth 310, let’s say. But they’re thinking they’re getting something for free. There is no free anything-

Marleny Cruz:

Free in the world. Doesn’t exist. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That happens where people are overpaying for houses and they still are. I have a guy who just paid 40 grand more than the house appraised for, just to get the house, and that’s it. That does happen.

Marleny Cruz:

Did he have an attorney, because it doesn’t sound like it.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

He did. When I was told the address, not to dwell on this, when I was told the address, the street and I was like, just so you know, I might have a problem, might. But I’ve been surprised before by appraisals where I go, I don’t understand how that ever came to be. But that’s paramount to why you need that layer of protection, that armor to protect you as a seller, and the same thing as… Because there are things where you’re dealing with the buyer, where they’re hiding, because most people you would probably say that are buyers go through a house and you go, “Do you like the house?” “It’s beautiful, everything is perfect.”

Then you get the home inspection report and it takes you 20 minutes to read it. You’re going oh, boy-

Marleny Cruz:

Not so perfect. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Yeah. You’re dancing between the two lines, hopefully I’m not going to say something wrong, just correct me, dancing between two lines, that it’s really hard to get a house. But it’s also really hard to allow someone to make a horrible decision. Because in my world, if the appraiser said the septic’s shot. I could see the mud pit in the backyard, or whatever, you have to buy that with a construction loan. But I’m sure you have these conversations every day, right? With-

Bill Askin:

I do. Yeah. I can talk about inspections for hours and inspection contingencies and tell you about some stories. I’ll do that, I’ll do one, not hours, but I’ll give you a few minutes on inspections. Before I jump to that, though, I don’t want to leave off on a bad note with VA and USDA, I don’t mean to be critical of them at all. They’re both very, very good loan programs. 

Just for the people out there that don’t know what they are. USDA is United States Department of Agriculture, and VA is Veterans Administration. Those are loan programs that are only available to people that meet the strict requirements to qualify for those loans. USDA, you might know or think, agriculture is really for farmers, low income people and Veterans Administration is for veterans. 

Both have a very minimal or no down payment requirement, and that’s an opportunity to service maybe first time home buyers or people just getting into agriculture, or somebody’s just getting discharged from the military that hasn’t had the opportunity to save up for a down payment. They do serve a very valuable and very important purpose and serve a segment of the population that qualifies and really needs those programs.

They’ve been fantastic. They’re great, great opportunities for people. But on the other side as a seller, if you have one of those loans up against the cash buyer, you’d always take a cash buyer. If you have one of those loans up against somebody that’s a conventional with 25% down, you would take the conventional with 25% down because there’s less risk of that contract falling apart. There’s a much higher risk of that transaction actually closing.

Marleny Cruz:

That’s what you’re looking for, right? You’re looking for what has less risk.

Bill Askin:

Correct.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

When you’re selling the biggest asset of your life, you want to pick the best person, people, group of people-

Bill Askin:

That gets us back to the first square, square one is, it’s not just the most money, it’s the most qualified buyer with a qualified offer. The other thing is, we’ve mentioned this, but obviously, Jeff, if somebody offers to pay a lot of money and they’ve got a mortgage, a lot of times the houses don’t appraise. They’re agreeing to pay over asking price or over value. But if the house doesn’t appraise for what that offer is, they’re not going to get the mortgage. So, it’s all for naught. 

Marleny Cruz:

Right. You want to avoid wasting that time and money in that process as well.

Bill Askin:

Right. That’s why you need a good real estate attorney on your side to evaluate those situations, whether you’re the buyer or the seller. We evaluate risk, try to minimize risk and give advice to buyers and sellers that are entering into contracts to purchase or sell, in most cases, the most valuable asset to lever on.

Marleny Cruz:

What are some of the most common risks that you see?

Bill Askin:

Let’s go to inspection. We’ve talked about a lot of different risks-

Marleny Cruz:

There’s something about inspections, let me tell you.

Bill Askin:

An inspection is designed to cover the buyers risk, obviously. First of all, I hear this all the time, buyers or sellers or realtors say, “Well, this one, Bill, this sells strictly as is.” I’m like, yeah-

Marleny Cruz:

Where did I hear that from?

Bill Askin:

… you think that’s something new or unique? The reality is, all real estate, all of it, 100% of it sells as is, all of it does. The only issue is whether or not the seller will permit the buyer to do an inspection.

Marleny Cruz:

It’s called full disclosure, right?

Bill Askin:

The buyer will have opportunity, in 99% of the transactions, the opportunity to do an inspection. I don’t know about you, but I would never personally and I would never advise any client of mine to buy a property where the seller said you cannot inspect it. 

Marleny Cruz:

That’s a no brainer. There’s something there.

Bill Askin:

It’s a no brainer.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That was a thing, where you had a waive your right to a home inspection, I’m sure it happened in Sparta too. Go ahead, finish what you were saying. It’s scary as hell.

Bill Askin:

What people think is that as is means that they can’t do an inspection when it does not. As is means, what you see is what you get, and what you don’t see is what you get. You buy the property as is. When there is a transfer of title to real property, the buyer accepts the property in its as is condition at closing. There’s an old Latin phrase called caveat emptor. You know what that means?

Marleny Cruz:

No, what does it mean?

Bill Askin:

That applies to all real estate transactions, caveat emptor. In English, the translation, buyer beware. Buyer beware. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Correct. 

Bill Askin:

It is the onus upon the buyer to do an inspection, to confirm and find out for themselves what as is means with respect to that property, because they’re going to get it as is on the day of closing. After closing, can a buyer go after a seller for a condition on a property that wasn’t disclosed or they didn’t find in their inspections? Yeah, you can try. It’s tough cases, unless you can prove actual fraud. Failure to disclose or fraudulent non-disclosure, it’s almost impossible to win those cases. 

Very important legal phrase, caveat emptor, buyer beware, you buy the property as is. In most real estate contracts, both residential and commercial, there’s a due diligence contingency, a due diligence period, an inspections during which the buyer can hire a private inspector, an environmental company an engineer to do their own work to find out what as is, is. 

Marleny Cruz:

How much time do you have?

Bill Askin:

… What is it? I’m buying the property as is, let’s find out what as is is. Then when you find out, depending upon the language in the contract, you will have certain rights. Then the next thing is a lot of buyers think they’re going to do an inspection find out what as is means, they’re going to get an inspection report from the home inspector, which in most cases these days is a minimum of 25 pages long. Can be 60, 80 pages long. 

What I dislike seeing, in fact, I put in my attorney review addendums to the contract is, that buyer cannot come to my seller and just deliver the inspection report and say, here, fix it. If you have a general home inspection that we sometimes see in real estate transaction that says buyer could do an inspection, and then if they’re not happy, they can ask the seller to fix stuff. That’s a very general, loose knit, awkward inspection contingency. 

Then the buyer thinks that they’re going to give the inspection report to the seller and say here, fix it.

Marleny Cruz:

Yeah, then be prepared, right?

Bill Askin:

We don’t like that, especially in a market like this. It starts with education. Educating the buyer that every home in America, including new construction, needs maintenance. Every home in America has little tweaks and issues and maintenance needs and things like that. So, the education to the buyer has to start with a buyer that, hey, you’re buying a lifelong project. 

Sometimes we find buyers, and not to be critical, but sometimes it’s younger buyers that have never owned real estate before, and somebody else is always taking care of the house or the apartments or the condo that they lived in, they don’t realize that now that burden of home ownership and maintenance is going to fall on them. 

Understand that and then they have to understand that the maintenance is an ongoing responsibility for the lifetime that they own the house. Next step is to let them know that the inspection, most attorneys would agree with me is not for maintenance items. The inspection is to let the buyer inquire and investigate, look around that property with an expert, licensed in the field of inspections to find out if there are any undisclosed or unknown, by the seller, what we call material defects. 

What is a material defect? It’s a defect in real estate or real property that would affect the use of the property, the value of the property or the safety of the property. Those are the items in general that the home inspection is for. To find out if there’s a cracked heat exchanger on the furnace that’s leaking carbon monoxide and could cause serious injury or death. It’s to find out if there’s a crack in the foundation, that’s so significant that the integrity of the foundation, of the home is at risk of crumbling.

Marleny Cruz:

It’s the language that’s important, right?

Bill Askin:

If we, as an industry, move forward to limiting home inspection repair requests to those items, I think we’ll have come a long way. I don’t think it’s appropriate for buyers to come back after the inspection and say, hey, the front screen door window is cracked, I want you to fix that. Because the buyer knew that or they should have known that when they made the offer to pay the price for the home that they offered to pay.

If they knew about it, before they made their offer, why should they get a second bite at the apple, which is what Jeff was talking about a little while ago, where they offer a lot of money, they know there’s a bunch of things wrong with the house, and then they come back after the inspection say they want it all fixed, they knew that. 

We work at my law firm on contracts and contingencies and the attorney review process to clarify all those issues. The key to successful real estate transactions is transparency, and education, so that when the contract is in final form, the buyer and the seller know that the inspection is to give the buyer unimpeded access to have the home or the real estate inspected by a contractor. After the inspection is done, the buyer has the right to ask the seller to fix any unknown, undisclosed material defects in the property. 

Once that’s done, then the burden would shift back to the seller to say, great, fine, I’ll fix it all, and then we move forward to closing. Or the seller can say, no, I’m not fixing any of that stuff. In which case it goes back to the buyer and the buyer can say, all right, I’ll buy it as is. I know those things now, I’m going to close any way. Or the buyer can say no, I don’t want the house anymore. 

Or the third option, which is what usually happens is they have some kind of negotiation. Maybe the seller would agree to address some of the issues, if not all the issues or maybe they’d come to some sort of a monetary or financial concession, give a credit from the seller or the buyer for some of the repairs, something like that. That’s how we usually work these things out.

Marleny Cruz:

I just want to say some of the comments. Al says, excellent explanation. Excellent guests. I like this guy, he says.

Bill Askin:

Thanks, Al. 

Marleny Cruz:

Now, what are some of the things that you wish that people knew before coming to you, or mistakes that you wish they didn’t make, to make the process easier?

Bill Askin:

Usually they come to me because they’ve made mistakes, and that’s why they need an attorney. My best advice is, if you, or you know people that are looking to invest in real estate or buy real estate or sell real estate, talk to a licensed real estate professional, talk to a licensed mortgage professional and talk to an attorney that handles real estate transactions that is well versed in real estate transactions before you get started in the process. Then you’ll avoid a lot of potential mistakes, a lot of risk and a lot of potentially wasted time. 

Marleny Cruz:

Absolutely.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Specializing in real estate is the key.

Marleny Cruz:

I like that, the key, specializing.

Bill Askin:

I’m not allowed to say specialize. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

You know what I mean. That’s the focus of-

Bill Askin:

My practice involves a substantial amount of real estate law. 

Marleny Cruz:

Well, let’s get into it a little bit. What are some of the real estate laws that you focus on? Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Bill Askin:

We handle really all types of real estate law. Some people refer to what I do as being a dirt lawyer, not a dirty lawyer, but a dirt lawyer.

Marleny Cruz:

Okay, tell us, what does that mean? 

Bill Askin:

It starts from the ground up. Generally, we’ve been talking about people buying and selling real estate, residential real estate, investment properties, commercial real estate. We also handle applications for people that want to develop or build real estate. They often run into, in fact, they always run into permitting issues. You can’t just buy a piece of vacant land and build whatever you want to build on it, you have to go and get permits. 

Oftentimes the municipality that gets involved in issuing permits, and the permitting process for a building or development will tell you that you can’t build that there, or that what you want to build is too big or it’s too tall, or it’s too close to the property lines, or it doesn’t meet what are called the municipal zoning code.

The law itself is called the municipal land use law, and under the municipal land use law, every municipality in the state of New Jersey is required to have their own municipal zoning code. In the zoning code-

Marleny Cruz:

So they could be different.

Bill Askin:

Exactly right, you’ll find the details of number one, the use, what uses are allowed in all the different zones in that municipality? For instance, you can’t build a Burger King in a residential neighborhood. Likewise, you can’t build a residential home in a town center commercial zone, unless you get a variance to get the town, through the planning board to approve a variance to allow you to use your property, it’s a use variance, to use your property in violation, which would otherwise be in violation of the local municipal land use law. 

Marleny Cruz:

That’s an exception that they’re making. 

Bill Askin:

Correct. We do a lot of that type of work. In fact-

Marleny Cruz:

That’s interesting to know that, that could happen.

Bill Askin:

I have gotten approval for a client in the past to build an automobile service station, in what is technically a residential zone. You might think that sounds odd, and it does sound odd. But it’s really not because the residential zone extended out onto a state highway, and up and down the state highway, there are commercial businesses, and it’s only behind the highway that it’s all residential. Technically, it’s a residential zone. But in reality, or practicality, it has all the appearance of commercial zoning and commercial properties, and it’s surrounded by commercial properties. 

Other types of applications we get involved in with development of commercial property, residential property, where maybe the building or the structure that somebody wants to build is a little bit too close to the property line, that’s a side property line or the rear of the front property line, or maybe it’s a bit too tall, or maybe there’s a little bit too much impervious coverage. All those are trigger words, if you go for a permit, and you get denied your permit, generally, that means you need some sort of a variance, and you’ll need to consult with an attorney who’s licensed and handles those types of issues.

Marleny Cruz:

It’s not just any attorney, you want to make sure that this attorney, like you mentioned, specializes in what it is that you need, specifically.

Bill Askin:

Correct.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Right. That’s why you have conversations with them ahead of time, what you’re looking to do, and I’m sure you have them every day, where someone says, “Hey, I’m thinking about building a mall in the middle of my neighborhood.” You’ll be like, “No you’re not. This isn’t Disney World, you don’t own a million acres. You can’t do whatever you want.”

Bill Askin:

I don’t know about you guys, or anybody that might be listening, but a lot of people around the state, around the country think they pay too much in property taxes. 

Marleny Cruz:

I hear it all the time.

Bill Askin:

We handle a lot of property tax assessment appeals. Just again, real quick education, technically, you can’t appeal your property taxes. The tax rate itself is something that’s established as part of the municipal budgeting process every year, and at the end of that process, which typically wraps up in the late spring, every year, a new tax rate is established by that municipality. That tax rate, then it gets applied to the assessment, the assessed value of every real property or piece of real estate in that municipality, and the taxes themselves on the property are a result of those two things. It’s a result of the tax assessment, multiplied by the tax rate. There’s your taxes.

You cannot appeal the tax rate, you can only appeal the tax assessment, what the town believes your property is worth. Tax appeals generally are appealing with the town thinks that particular piece of property is worth. Tax appeals can only be filed for the year in which the appeal is filed. We just about wrapped up our tax appeals for this year. Most of them we have been able to resolve or get favorable judgments on, but for property taxes for the year 2021 had to be filed by April 1st of 2021. Every year, tax appeals have to be filed by April 1st of that year, unless there’s a municipal wide tax revaluation where the statute or the deadline is extended to May 1.

Generally, the tax hearings all happen in May and June every year. It’s a pretty quick process, if you’re successful at the county tax board level, and people that inquire are interested in filing tax appeals generally, we get busy doing that kind of work in February, every year, and the trigger for people to start thinking about it is when they receive their green card. 

There’s a green card that the municipality sends out every year to every property owner that says what that year’s tax assessment is. If you get that, you’re like, oh, my golly, they think my house is worth what. I’m either going to sell it or I’m going to appeal my taxes. That’s what starts the conversation.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

It works, it actually saves people money because obviously, they’re just making that decision of what it’s worth, without any input from you. They just have a person go out and-

Marleny Cruz:

Are most of these applications successful in what they want to accomplish?

Bill Askin:

It depends who you go to. Again, who’s the attorney handling it? I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve become a pretty good consultant or counselor to people thinking about the process. At this point, I only take any tax appeal matters every year, I will only take them if I am very confident that we’re going to win. I don’t want to waste my potential client’s time or money, appealing their taxes if I don’t think there’s a very, very good chance, more than reasonable chance that they will be successful. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Now, one of the things that I wanted to touch on before we got like 15 minutes, 18, 20 minutes is, you know how on our past show, Marleny, we brought up the word umbrella policy with the homeowners, and everybody went crazy-

Marleny Cruz:

Yes, I remember.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

… because, oh my gosh, I didn’t even know. What a great idea, and all that. Mr. Asking, Bill, would you go over estate plans? Listen, I already know we don’t have enough time to-

Marleny Cruz:

We can extend a little bit because this is a very important topic.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

But this will never cover it. But the thing is, is that in knowing what goes on in estate planning and how much money that could be thrown away, God forbid, because I don’t know, this is a newsflash but everybody dies.

Marleny Cruz:

Thanks for letting us know.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I didn’t want you think we’re going to live forever. But the fear here is that and I’ve seen it myself when it’s like one of the siblings trying to buy mom’s house or dad’s old house.

Marleny Cruz:

 Please let’s talk about that. Yeah. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Everything was done super wrong, and they have to sell it to pay the… I’m doing a horrible job. You go ahead and explain, if someone comes to you for estate planning. Estate, is that the right term in your office?

Bill Askin:

It is, but it’s a very, very general term, estate planning. It can involve and in fact does involve a lot of different issues, a lot of different documents, a lot of different advice depending upon that person or that family’s particular situation. There is no one shoe fits all in every situation of estate planning. Very quickly, number one, it’s my advice to everybody out there that you should have an estate plan. Because everybody that I’ve met, or I’ve known in my life wants to be involved in or in charge of knowing who’s going to be in charge of their assets, when they pass away someday. Because if you don’t make that decision, and you don’t have a will, a last will and testament, and you don’t appoint somebody to be your “executor”, guess who does it, guess who appoints somebody to be in charge of your estate? The surrogates court.

Now, there’s a statute that applies, and there’s an order of preference for who that person would be. But it’s not your call. If you want to make sure that you put your spouse or an adult child or a brother or sister or a friend, or somebody specific in charge of all your stuff when you’re gone someday, you need a will. 

Second thing, most everybody I know, I’m going to venture out and say 100% of the people that I’ve talked to over the years, want to be in charge of and dictate who’s going to get all their stuff when they pass away. Again, the way to make sure that happens is to have an estate plan that includes a last will and testament that says, I leave my house to Joe, my car to Steve, and all the rest residue and remainder of my assets to my spouse, if he or she survives me, if not, to my children in equal shares. 

That’s a pretty basic, straightforward situation. But I’ll tell you what, if that’s what you want to have happen, and you don’t put that in your last will and testament or you don’t do a will, that’s not what’s going to happen. It’s not what’s going to happen.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Not even close.

Marleny Cruz:

How about boyfriends and girlfriends when you’re not married, let’s get into that. Jeff says, oh please, it can get ugly. It can.

Bill Askin:

We didn’t get into this talking about real estate, but this touches both real estate law and estate planning. Boyfriend and girlfriend buying a house together, and the house, they could own it together in two different ways. They could own it as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, or they could own it as tenants in common. They could both be on the mortgage or I’ve seen it we’re only one of them is on the mortgage, right, Jeff? 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

That’s right. 

Bill Askin:

Then something unexpected happens. One of them passes away. I’ve had this issue several times, one of them passes away. Now, depending upon how they own the house, as joint tenants with right of survivorship, or as tenants in common, will make a key difference in what happens to that house and the surviving owner of that house as boyfriend or girlfriend, or as just friends or as investors together. 

If it’s tenants in common, and say, Joe and Sally are boyfriend and girlfriend, tenants in common. They buy a house, Sally dies, Joe still is alive. Maybe they even have a child together, and now Sally is gone. Again, there’s no will that says we get Sally’s half of the house. If there’s no will, guess who gets Sally’s half of the house? Not Joe, depends on what the statute on intestacy says. It depends upon Sally’s surviving heirs at law. 

The statute would say that if Sally has any living children, since she didn’t have… Well, what if she’s still married-

Marleny Cruz:

 It could get complicated-

Bill Askin:

… to somebody else, guess who gets that half of the house? 

Marleny Cruz:

No.

Bill Askin:

Her spouse. Or if she has children, the children. Or if she has parents, the parents. What if she has no relatives?

Marleny Cruz:

Well, I’m going to share this situation that I heard from a friend, not too long ago. Because of COVID, she has a boyfriend and her boyfriend was really near death because of COVID. Thank God, he didn’t die. Since she’s a girlfriend, she has no rights to even go into the room and make decisions and all of this. He couldn’t even breathe. He couldn’t talk. He had no way to express what he wanted. It was a very difficult situation. In a situation like this, what do you do?

Bill Askin:

Really good topic there, because most people again, think of estate planning as a will. But estate planning is also preparing for the potential of incapacity. Jeff mentioned, everybody needs a will because we know everybody’s going to die. Fact of life, right? But not everybody is going to become disabled or incompetent, but it does happen. People get sick, people develop dementia, people have a traumatic brain injury. Things happen where people cannot make medical decisions or financial decisions for themselves. 

If they don’t have an estate plan that includes a health care proxy, a living will a medical directive, and a general durable financial power of attorney. Guess what happens to that person’s health care and their financial assets? Guess who’s in control? The state. 

Marleny Cruz:

 That’s pretty sad.

Bill Askin:

That’s the case until somebody goes to a court and applies to be appointed as the guardian of the person and/or the guardian of that person’s assets. You know how long that process would take? Minimum 30 days, could take up to 90 or 120 days. During all that time, that person who had COVID, or had a traumatic brain injury or is suffering from dementia, the assets are frozen. Nobody is involved taking care of their healthcare.

Probably the Office of the Public Guardian could be appointed to be the guardian for that person. To avoid that, and to avoid the situation that you talked about where the woman’s boyfriend got COVID, and she couldn’t get any information, while you’re competent, you prepare a living will, healthcare proxy and a financial power of attorney, where in this case, instead of a judge appointing somebody as the guardian, you appoint somebody to be your fiduciary or your legal representative, in case one of those things ever happens to you.

Marleny Cruz:

 How about if this person changes? If I did it when my boyfriend was ex, and now it’s five years later, and I forgot to change it. All of a sudden, here we are, that person that I was with is still the person in charge?

Bill Askin:

If that person could be contacted, they could step in, and they could assist. But what we usually recommend and do for most of our clients is to have a backup. I nominate and appoint, in my case, my spouse as my fiduciary under a power of attorney. But if my spouse predeceases, or is otherwise unavailable, or refuses to serve, I appoint my oldest child, or my brother or sister as a second choice. You can have a second, a third, a fourth backup, as many as you want. 

Marleny Cruz:

 Got it. Good to know.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I’m sure as a part of this whole conversation, if we’re going to go with Marleny’s story about that boyfriend she had five years ago, which I’d like to hear about, but I’m sure you have meetings or updates, like having what changed, and new accounts you have and that kind of stuff.

Bill Askin:

Here’s my rule of thumb, my rule of thumb with all of our estate planning clients is you should review your plan every year. Once a year, just go through it. What are you looking for? What you’re looking for are any significant changes in your life, significant changes. Events like death, disability, divorce, birth, marriage, those are big life events, right? 

Not just for you, but anybody named in your documents. You mentioned the fiduciary, the person with a power of attorney, any of the beneficiaries under the will, yourself as well. Anybody named in any of your documents, either passes away, becomes disabled, gets married, gets divorced, has children, has grandchildren, has children getting married, those are reasons to consult with your attorney to determine whether or not any updates or amendments to your documents might be appropriate. 

Marleny Cruz:

 That should be done yearly.

Bill Askin:

My recommendation is at least yearly, just have a quick look through, everything’s still good. If there’s a significant change in your assets, another reason to talk to the attorney. We didn’t get into this but estate planning also, in a lot of cases is tax planning. There are different death taxes that come into play. There’s federal estate tax, local state estate tax. In New Jersey, there’s also New Jersey inheritance tax. Then coming up now, depending upon what happens at the IRS and in D.C., we’re looking at a potential change in capital gains taxes, which would have very, very significant ramifications for people. Keep an eye out for that one, capital gains taxes.

Marleny Cruz:

 We need to bring you back. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Plus also-

Marleny Cruz:

 Oh my God, we need to bring Bill back.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

All right. Fine, we’ll bring him back. We’ll do it on his boat, that’s where we’ll go. We’ll go to your boat.

Marleny Cruz:

 Alice says, “Great show, Marleny. Very professional.” Yes, I agree.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Al also said he’s beginning to like me, Bill. 

Marleny Cruz:

 I think that’s because we got-

Bill Askin:

I don’t know who these guys are. I don’t hear them saying anything.

Marleny Cruz:

 It’s the chat. 

Bill Askin:

Oh, it’s the chat. 

Marleny Cruz:

 Yeah, take a look over there.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I’ve heard with the estate planning that if they set up the money wrong for the kids, they could get hit with the gift tax, if they put the money in the wrong way. That’s why, don’t leave this to anyone, leave it to the guy who makes you your sandwiches. Have a proper estate attorney. Also-

Marleny Cruz:

 This could be a big headache for the person that is left with this responsibility. If the person doesn’t know how to handle these things or doesn’t even know… Do you advise whoever is in your will to obviously be informed of your decision or no? Because a lot of people don’t inform.

Bill Askin:

The worst thing that can happen in certain cases, especially where there are maybe some lingering issues, between family members or friends about assets or control, things like that, the worst thing that can happen is that the beneficiaries are surprised when somebody passes away. Because what does somebody do when they’re surprised, and they don’t get what they expect? They go to an attorney. 

My job, the one thing I see as always my number one priority with my clients is to keep them and their family and their assets out of court, out of court. The way to do that is to have them tell people what their plan is, then they won’t be surprised when they pass away. 

If anything, what I do, my practice is limited to transactional, and planning legal issues that we’ve talked about today. I don’t go to court, I am not a litigator. I try to keep all of my clients out of court and away from litigation. If they come in, and they feel like for some reason they want to litigate, I have plenty of attorneys that I know will handle that type of work. 

Marleny Cruz:

 Well, that’s the last thing you really want, especially in the case where somebody died and left you something, you’re mourning, you’re in pain, you don’t want to go through this process. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Well, a lot of times.

Marleny Cruz:

 That well, well-

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Well, a lot of times, the things I’ve seen is where there’s, let’s say three kids, and they go to sell mom’s house. Let’s say a home inspection, this will cover everything we talked about. Home inspection issues, two of the brothers could go, “Take it out of your third, Billy.” You have to deal with the fact that they see it as… I’ve seen that breakup more families, when the parents die, and then there’s money to be had. 

Marleny Cruz:

 How is that handled? I want to hear.

Bill Askin:

It’s so subjective. Again, it depends upon number one, the planning documents. Number two, not only the assets of the estate, but the debts of the estate. Every estate has debts. There’s at least the cost of funeral and burial, at least the cost of a probate court, there’s at least the cost of potentially any taxes, tax returns, and legal fees that have to be handled. Every estate is unique and different, and it starts with what’s in the will? Is there a will that says-

Marleny Cruz:

 Who determines that? If it’s not in the will who determines that? That’s a great point, by the way, but who is that determined by if it’s not specified in the will?

Bill Askin:

Who pays the cost of fixing things that come up in a home inspection?

Marleny Cruz:

 Right, and the different things that come up.

Bill Askin:

The estate is responsible. Just because somebody passes away, doesn’t mean that the liabilities, the assets, and the debts go away. They become the liabilities of the estate of the decedent. Believe me, the law protects the creditors. The very first thing that gets paid out of anybody’s estate are the costs of funeral and burial, number one, gets paid off the top.

The second thing that gets paid are the cost of administration of that estate. The administration includes taxes, legal fees, probate court, all those things, they get paid next, the third thing that gets paid are the secured creditors. If you have a mortgage on a property, or a lien on a property, any secured creditors. Once they’re paid, if there’s still money left, the next thing that gets paid are the unsecured creditors; your credit cards, your car loans, your Macy’s bill, whatever the other unsecured debt there might be. Then after that, if there’s money left after that, that gets split up between either who you say in your will gets it or between what are called your heirs at law, pursuant to the statute. 

In Jeff’s case about paying for the repairs for that house, that’s a debt of the estate, that’s something that would come off the top, it wouldn’t be split, unless the will says it has to be split in some fashion or paid by one brother and not the other two.

Marleny Cruz:

 That’s taken out even to begin with at the beginning. It’s not even… Okay, that’s interesting.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Well, there was one story I heard where the person who this happened to happened to call me and ask for my advice. When you hear this, you’re going to go what? He was-

Marleny Cruz:

I’m sure he’s heard it.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

It was a short sale, that was a wreck. But he’s handy dude, and he got it for next to nothing, because yours truly helped them get the house for real cheap. Then he wanted to do a loan to take out money to pay himself back and all this other stuff. For whatever reason, he didn’t come back to me and wait to hear what happened to him. 

He had to get this person who’s a friend of his, whom he used to work for, this 80 year old lady. The person who took the loan, put her as the… You know how you could keep her off a title and just be a cosigner for the mortgage? They made her the owner with him, so when it wasn’t done the right way. Because, listen, if I told you, the people involved, you’ll be like, that makes sense. She drops dead a month and a half later. What happened was, they saw that now, this house went from being worth 80 grand to being worth like 575.

Bill Askin:

Because of all the improvements he did to the house?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Yeah. He put a ton of improvements into the house. He made this house-

Bill Askin:

I hear where you’re going with this one. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Then he calls me up, he’s like, “Is there anything I can do?”

Bill Askin:

Should I be concerned? 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I said, “Well, first, thanks for not calling me to do your refi, and number two, full disclosure, she was on to help him buy the house initially with me, but I made sure she wasn’t on the deed. Then he calls me up, and he’s like, “Where am I going to come up with 200… ” They appraised it and let’s just say it’s 300 grand, it was close. “Where am I going to come up with 300 grand?” I go, [inaudible 01:02:27] He had to find 300… Mind you, he had a mortgage, and then he had to come up with the other half of what the house was worth because she had better people planning for her stuff than he had for a simple refinancing.

Marleny Cruz:

Okay, with that case, that’s a good example, with that case, what could have been done to avoid that? 

Bill Askin:

It sounds, first of all, he carried all the risk. He put the down payment, he invested the money, the time, the effort into doing the renovations to the home. He put in the sweat equity and sounds like the money too. She was on the loan, almost like a guarantor. Because without her on the loan, she wouldn’t have been able to get the loan. 

Her role was to help him get the loan. He didn’t qualify on his own. When they did the refinance, the new mortgage company required that, if she’s on the loan, we want her on the deed too. Jeff wasn’t there to give good advice, which she would have given, I wasn’t there, I would doubt any attorney was there to give this investor good advice. She ends up on the deed, I don’t even know if he knew that she was on the deed or not. But if he knew or not, it should have been known, and there should have been some sort of an agreement between the two of them as to what would happen if she passed away. 

What that agreement was or how it looked or whatever, it could have many different forms, it could be handled in her estate plan or her will, or it could be handled in a second mortgage on the property between the two of them, or it could have been handled in, when you own a property with somebody it doesn’t automatically have to be 50-50. You could own a property with somebody else where you own 95%, and the other person owns 5%. 

There are a lot of different ways to tackle that issue. But unless you realize then it is an issue and talk to a professional, you’re leaving yourself open, like happened to Jeff’s friend here to substantial risk. Then what happens on the other side, she passes away, and then all of a sudden her estate, again, I don’t know if she named beneficiaries or kids but they find out oh, I got a windfall. I got half of the house worth $600,000. You think they’re going to go away and just let Jeff’s friend keep the house? Of course not. They’re going to go talk to a lawyer who’s going to give them their legal rights, and why would they give those legal rights up? It wasn’t done right from square one. Shame on whoever was involved because that sounds like it was a mess.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

If you think about it, when you want someone who knows what they’re doing with even the smallest or the easiest of all transactions, which is a refinance, would you say that’s literally we can all be blindfolded and handle it. That simple thing cost him 300 grand. The point is, is that, everyone doesn’t need this in their life. 

That was his 300 grand. Can you imagine if it was worse with estate planning-

Marleny Cruz:

 It gets worse.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Because there is more, there’s also, which we didn’t get into, which is the children of who gets children if you die. What did they call that?

Bill Askin:

Guardianship.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Guardianship.

Marleny Cruz:

 Guardianship.

Bill Askin:

Who’s going to be the guardian of my children if I pass away?

Marleny Cruz:

 That’s so important, especially now, I personally know somebody that they lost their mother and one is six, one is 10, and the other one is 13. Their mother is gone because of COVID. That’s tough. Most people don’t even think about this.

Bill Askin:

That can be a tricky situation. By law, the guardian becomes their dad, if he’s around. If he’s not qualified to be a parent, somebody would have to try to get him disqualified as the parent of those children.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Who’s going to go through that?

Marleny Cruz:

 Wow, if both parents are not available, then it’s the grandparents?

Bill Askin:

By law, it’s nobody. If the parents are gone, and there’s not a will that appoints a guardian, somebody has to go to court, and petition a judge to be appointed as the guardian for those children. If nobody goes to court, and nobody petitions to be appointed the guardian, they eventually become wards of the state, so the state will become their guardian. 

Marleny Cruz:

We need to take a look at this deeply because we’ve seen with COVID, that this is essential. This is very, very important. I think COVID show does a lot of things, especially the importance of planning.

Bill Askin:

Made a lot of people think.

Marleny Cruz:

 Absolutely.

Bill Askin:

Generally, most people don’t think about the what ifs if I get sick, or when I die, or they don’t worry, they see a new house, they don’t worry about… They’re excited to close on their house. They don’t worry about what can go wrong, or who they’re buying it with. Issues happen. Go to prepare.

Marleny Cruz:

 The misinformation is mostly the unknown that you have to protect yourself for. Bill, what is the contact information for anybody that wants to reach out and get more information, get a consultation?

Bill Askin:

Our law firm is Askin and Hooker, our website is www.askinlaw.com A-S-K-I-N-L-A-W.com, and it’s pretty simple from there. My email is Bill@askinlaw.com, and the office phone number is 973-729-7711. I am licensed to practice in the estates of New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Although, 95% of my practice is limited to the state of New Jersey. I practice all over the state of New Jersey. I would say 80% of my practice is greater Morrison, Sussex counties.

Marleny Cruz:

 Very… That’s both for residential and business as well, right?

Bill Askin:

Again, my practice is limited to estates, planning and transactions. We handle any kind of transactional or planning events.

Marleny Cruz:

 Very nice.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Make those decisions with Bill while you’re alive instead of somebody making them for you.

Marleny Cruz:

 For you. Yes, absolutely. Do you want to share any closing remarks or any advice that you want to share with our listeners and viewers? 

Bill Askin:

Boy, well, if you do ask me back, I’d love to come back some day-

Marleny Cruz:

 We’d love to have you back, yes.

Bill Askin:

It’s really just, touching the pinnacle of all the issues that can and are involved, and, again, anybody looking to make an investment or make any type of a plan for themselves or their family or their assets or their taxes, I highly encourage and suggest that you talk to an attorney competent to handle those particular legal issues for you. 

Marleny Cruz:

 Absolutely. 

Bill Askin:

Planning is 99% of the success, planning ahead of time.

Marleny Cruz:

 Planning, planning, planning. Ladies and gentlemen, planning is key. Thank you so much. Thank you, Bill. Thank you for coming to the show. 

Bill Askin:

My pleasure. 

Marleny Cruz:

 For the information that you shared with us, is very important.

Bill Askin:

Appreciate the invitation. The hour went fast, right?

Marleny Cruz:

 It did. Really, really fast. Al says, “Thank you, Bill.”

Bill Askin:

You’re welcome, Al. 

Marleny Cruz:

 Do you have any closing remarks, Jeff Hoebee?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Why am I doing it twice? I just want to say on the next show we’re going to dig deeper into this estate, and an hour wouldn’t even-

Marleny Cruz:

 Be enough.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Just literally have a pen and a pad and take notes because… Or just meet with Bill and then he can go over this stuff with you too. Because, we talk about homeowners insurance in case you have a fire. What about if something happens to your kids? Everything you worked your whole life for could be-

Marleny Cruz:

 Gone in a second. 

Jeffrey Hoebee:

I have stories of people losing, what do you call it, executors who have access to the money. Spend it all on themselves.

Marleny Cruz:

 No. Why are you bringing such an important topic at the end?

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Because this is called a hook to get everybody waiting for Bill. With all the handsome comments, I’m like, wait a minute, I’ve been staying here for two months, but whatever.

 

Marleny Cruz:

 Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for tuning in. Remember, planning is key. Right, Bill?

Bill Askin:

That’s right. Plan for the best and everything will come out well.

Marleny Cruz:

 Yes, plan for the best. Thank you so much. We’ll see you next time. Same channel, same time. Bye.

Jeffrey Hoebee:

Bye.