Q&A

  • Am I required to use my Realtor’s title/settlement company for my real estate settlements?

    Absolutely not. Under recently adopted federal regulations, all real estate agents and banks must tell you that you are free to choose an attorney, or any other title company to handle your real estate settlements.

  • Why do Realtors and banks push buyers to use their title companies?

    Because they have an ownership interest in these title companies. They get a portion of the title insurance fee, or share the title/settlement company’s profit. Under the new regulations, banks and Realtors must disclose their ownership interest in these companies to a buyer.

  • Why should I use an attorney to handle my real estate settlement?

    The amount a buyer is charged for title insurance is governed by state law. The cost to have an attorney conduct your real estate settlement is exactly the same as having a title company handle your settlements. The substantial difference is that title companies do not, and cannot, explain the documents you are signing. They simply have you sign them. They cannot advise you on how you should hold title to the property, because to do so constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. They cannot provide you with legal advice should any problem arise with the property, but an attorney can.

  • Do I need the services of an attorney when I am selling my real estate?

    In York County, it is the seller’s responsibility to prepare a deed to transfer the real estate to the buyer. An attorney should prepare your deed, not a title company because they have no legal expertise. Most Realtors tell sellers they do not need an attorney at settlement, and will explain the closing documents themselves, despite not having a law license.

  • Do I need a Will?

    Yes, you need a will so that there is a smooth transition of your assets at the time of your death.

  • May I use my Power of Attorney after my parent’s death?

    No, your power of attorney terminates at your parent’s death. The Executor identified in your parent’s will takes over after the will is probated.

  • What is Probate?

    It is the process of proving the Decedent’s will by presenting a valid will, a petition, and a death certificate at the Register of Wills Office. Thereafter, a short certificate is issued that allows the executor or executrix to conduct the legal affairs of the Estate.

  • Are there times when it is not necessary to probate a Will?

    Yes, if at the time of death, all the Decedent’s assets are jointly owned, or the only assets have a beneficiary (such as life insurance), or the assets are either paid or transferred on death to another individual.

  • How long does Probate take?

    Estate administration may take anywhere from 3 months to one year from the date of the Decedent’s death to complete.

  • Can I add my child’s name to my deed to reduce inheritance taxes?

    Yes, but you may have to pay inheritance tax if your child dies before you. The increase in value of the property may be considered a marital asset if your child divorces. Also, your child may have to pay capital gains if the property is sold.

  • Why am I paying support if I have 50-50 custody?

    Support is calculated, not only upon the number of overnights you have, but upon the amount of money each parent earns or has a capacity to earn. If one parent earns a significantly higher amount of money, an order of support can be entered to help equalize the income in both houses for the support of the child(ren).

  • How am I to pay my fixed expenses, like mortgage and car payments, if I have to pay child support?

    Under the PA state guidelines, child support takes priority over other fixed payments. However, some adjustment may be available for high mortgage payments while the parties are separated and still married.

  • How soon can I start dating after I file for divorce?

    The filing of the divorce complaint is a signal to all of the world that you are separated from your spouse. You can start dating immediately after filing without the concern of being accused of committing adultery. A relationship entered into after separation, may, however, have an impact on certain kinds of support.

  • Will all assets be divided 50-50?

    Assets that are identified as marital will be "equitably distributed" between the parties. There is no presumption of a 50-50 division of property under the PA Divorce Code. Assets may also be awarded in differing percentages, as well.

  • The parents of my grandchildren are separated and not speaking to me. Do I have any rights with regards to my grandchildren?

    The Custody Act sets up specific types of rights that grandparents may exercise to have contact with their grandchildren, which range from partial custody rights to primary custody, based upon the grandparents’ history with the grandchildren and the parents’ situations. Underlying all of these rights is the Court’s need to find that continuing the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren would be in the best interest of the latter.

  • I have received a job offer in another state which will provide more economic stability for me and my children, who live with me. Can I take them with me without a Court Order?

    If the other parent is in agreement with the move, a stipulation can be drafted to protect both of your rights to the children. However, if there is no agreement, the moving party should seek a relocation hearing from the Court, before making such a move.