Can a notary notarize documents virtually? In other words, can a notary affix his or her seal to a document electronically? In Arizona, the answer is yes, they can. There are two different processes now provided for in Arizona law that allow signatures to be notarized virtually. Those processes are the topic of my latest newsletter, along with a brief revisit of the subject of virtual wills. It’s in my Real Estate Law Update for September, posted for your edification in the news and events section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
My new Estate Planning Law Report, my latest on trusts, is posted at deconcinimcdonald.com (under "recent news"). In it I explain what “funding” a trust means.
When you establish a trust, the purpose is usually to facilitate the management, and eventual distribution, of your assets. To make that work, at least some of your assets, and specifically those assets that would otherwise be subject to probate, must be owned by your trust. Transferring assets to a newly established trust is, in estate planning lingo, “funding” the trust.
Read the Report to find out more. In future newsletters, I’ll provide more explanation about how trusts work and why you might need one.
For my latest Real Estate Law Update I came back to one of my recurring topics, real property taxes. As in, what happens when property taxes are not paid on time, in full. I often tell people that there’s rarely a need to panic over unpaid property taxes, because in Arizona, the taxes have to be unpaid for a long time before anything bad will happen.
I should hasten to add, however, that bad things can and will happen if you let property taxes go unpaid long enough, so don’t neglect them.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you pay the correct amount, or if you’re going to err, err on the side of paying too much rather than too little. If you pay too much, the county treasurer (in Arizona, that’s the government official who collect property taxes) will usually either refund the overpayment to you, or apply the overpayment to the next year’s taxes.
Which leads me to the subject of the Update, which is, does the government seize your property if you underpay your property taxes? The answer is, you will lose your property, but it probably won’t be the government that ends up with it. In most cases, a private tax lien investor is the one who will end up with your property.
Want the details? Read the Update, now available for your reading pleasure in the news and events section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
This is obviously an important topic, so I want to give it the attention it deserves. I have seen many wills in my career. Some were very short, but covered all the necessary information, while others were very long but were lacking key details. In either case, administering the estates that were the subject of those wills would have been much more complicated if the original of the will had been lost. Yes, I’ve dealt with my share of those situations too.
For more information on this vital subject, please read my Estate Planning Law Report for April, 2020. It’s posted in the news & events section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
Americans are constantly being told that they don’t save enough. So why not create more widely usable, and less complicated, opportunities for savings that will produce income without being subject to income tax? I discussed the possibilities in my Tax Law Special Report for March, 2020. The report is posted for your examination at my firm’s web site, deconcinimcdonald.com.
First, the title of the SECURE Act is a ridiculously contrived acronym: the full title is the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019.
What’s more, just about all of the commentary that I have seen about it focuses on the shortening of the time that people who inherit IRAs have to withdraw the funds. Sure, that may be important in some situations, but I’ll bet that, given the freedom to do whatever they want, most people who inherit IRAs are going to withdraw all the money in ten years (the new, shorter time period for most situations) or less anyway.
The more impactful change made by the SECURE Act, in my opinion, is the extension of the required beginning date for withdrawals by the account owner (the dreaded required minimum distributions, or RMDs) from age 70½ to age 72.
For a fuller, but by no means comprehensive, discussion of this complex measure that has implications for retirement planning, estate planning, and tax planning, please check out my Tax Law Special Report for February, now available for your reading pleasure in the News & Events section of my firm’s web site, deconcinimcdonald.com.
The question is, what happens to a one-foot wide strip of property that remained in the ownership of the builder after construction of two attached houses on two lots on either side of the one-foot wide strip?
Pro tip: don’t buy the one-foot wide strip at the tax lien sale. Buyer beware.
My Real Estate Law Update for December discussed Home Title Lock, and whether it really provides a needed service. You’ll find that Update in the news and events section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
Clark Howard makes the point that Home Title Lock doesn’t really sound like insurance. They say they will monitor your home title, alert you if anything happens, and assist you with documents if something does happen, but they don’t say that they will pay any money to cover any losses you might incur.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.