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Homeowner receives conflicting advice from multiple attorneys regarding estate plan

Q: My mom has a condo in Delaware, but she and I both live in Maryland in our own separate homes. The home my mom lives in is in my sister’s name. Mom’s will says the house she lives in now is to go to my sister after her death. The condo in Delaware is only in my mom’s name. Her will leaves that home to me.

We’ve talked to various ...Read more

Condo board considers installing EV chargers for unit owners

Q: I am on the board of directors of a homeowners association (HOA) in Evanston, Illinois. The board is gathering information about installing electrical vehicle (EV) chargers on our HOA property.

The board is particularly interested in the concept that was described in your article from last year. You said there is an option for an outside ...Read more

Unit owner concerned about language added to HOA’s rules

Q: The homeowners association (HOA) of our complex added language to the association’s rules and regulations that I believe is alarming and invalid. I read your column every week and wanted to get your take.

Our HOA has around 70 units. A section of the new rules was adopted without discussion and without consultation with the unit owners. ...Read more

Why do property owners let homes and storefronts sit empty?

Q: I’m curious. There are several abandoned homes in my area. They are/were beautiful, but year after year, they sit empty. Similarly, there are a number of empty storefronts in my area, all with substantially high, competitive rates.

Why leave these spaces empty? Why not lower the rates on the rents, rather than letting these properties sit,...Read more

Trustee considers next steps for beneficiaries after sale of Mom’s home

Q: My mom’s home is in a trust. She passed away toward the end of last year. She lived in the home for over 20 years. Her trust lists her six grandchildren as the beneficiaries of the trust.

We’ve found a buyer for the home who is paying cash. As a trustee, am I required to open a separate bank account for the proceeds to be placed in that ...Read more

What you should know about the $418 million NAR settlement on home-sale commission

Is massive change coming to the real estate industry? It’s unlikely. Will sellers drop their listing price because they’re no longer responsible for paying the buyer’s side of the commission? Almost certainly not. Will it be cheaper for buyers to purchase a home? We doubt that, and it might even become more expensive.

Now that we have all...Read more

Exes consider selling paid-off home to their children

Q: My ex and I are thinking of selling our paid-off home to our two children. Then, both of us would purchase our own places. We would give them a much better deal than they could get on the open market. What are the pros and cons of doing this? Thanks in advance.

A: We wish you had included some additional information in your email. For ...Read more

Reader suggests including guardianship language into power of attorney

Comment: You stated to a reader recently that it was unclear why the niece no longer had power of attorney (POA) over the aunt’s house — and a conservator stepped in.

As an advocate against guardianship abuse, a POA can be removed through the courts like a discarded traffic citation. Many family members are blindsided by the process — ...Read more

Income issues, rising debt put former homeowner in a difficult position

Q: Thanks for your financial newsletters. You helped me back in 2008 when the Great Recession hit, and I was able to save my townhouse from foreclosure.

Fast-forward. I moved to Sonoma County, California, about 10 years ago. I unfortunately sold that home in 2020 due to many reasons. One of them was that our income was not, and has not been, ...Read more

Anyone can fall for a scam, even in real estate. Here’s what you need to know

March 7 was National Slam the Scam Day, according to the Social Security Administration. While most people understand that there are many scams perpetrated by extremely clever bad actors, what is not well understood is just how easy it is to be taken in by these scams.

Phishing, vishing, and other cyber-security scams are terrifying. Losing ...Read more

Condo owner left in the dark seeks help with outdoor lighting

Q: I have lived in the same 10-unit condo for over 20 years. It consists of several two- to four-unit buildings grouped together. The buildings surround a shared parking area. Some units face the parking area, while others don’t.

Many owners that face the parking area leave their garage light on to illuminate the parking area. Without these ...Read more

Readers respond, we provide clarity on trusts and transfer on death instruments

Comment: I read your recent article about trusts and beneficiaries of trusts. You mentioned that “If you have a revocable trust, as the beneficiary you have the right to amend the trust and update it to decide who can serve as trustee and who should be the beneficiary under the trust.”

I’m not aware of any provision that allows a trust ...Read more

How to find your property line

Q: Where can I find out where my property line is located? My neighbor put up a fence and I believe it’s over the property line. How do I find out?

A: We’ve got a few ideas for you to try. But without knowing the particular circumstances of your property, we’ll have to make a number of assumptions relating to your circumstances. ...Read more

Readers responses keep the conversations going

Comment: As an insurance agent with over 50 years in the property-casualty business, I enjoy reading answers that people pose via the internet.

I was recently reading one of your articles about the “child with power of attorney.” However, in none of your answers have I seen the suggestion that the questioner should consult with his ...Read more

Step-sister attempts to claim share in deceased step-father’s home despite lack of last will and testament

Q: My mother and father were married for over 20 years. During their marriage they bought a house. At some point my mother signed a quitclaim deed and made my father the sole owner of the home. She did this on the condition that he was supposed to leave the home to me. My father passed away and left no will. Now my step-sister from my dad’s ...Read more

Child with power of attorney attempts to transfer ill father’s home into a living trust

Q: I am trying to help my dad transfer his home into a living trust. He will maintain the home as his primary residence. We want to put the home into a living trust to avoid probate after his death, and this is what was suggested to us. He’s recently taken ill, hopefully not a long-term thing, and is having difficulty leaving the house.

I ...Read more

If your neighbor puts up a fence, who is responsible for cleaning it?

Q: My next-door neighbor put up a white vinyl fence between our homes. Not a problem for me, originally. But the fence is now turning green and black from dirt and mold.

I don’t care what his side of the fence looks like, but I do care about my side. It’s unsightly and I don’t want to see it every time I go out in my garden. So, here’s ...Read more

Couple seeks clarification on tax implications if they sell their second home

Q: In 2020 my husband and I paid cash for a condo that my college son has lived in while going to school. He is about to graduate and get married. We are now contemplating selling the home.

We make over $100,000 a year. We plan to use the profit from the sale of the home to purchase another property. Are we allowed to do so without paying long ...Read more

Why aren’t more homeowners selling to ‘as is’ companies?

Q: I recently came across one of your columns on using a company to sell your home on an “as is” basis. You pay no real estate commissions; you get a fast closing and easy terms. Why don’t more people use them? Does the math work out?

A: Well, every seller has the option to go to one of those companies. But, you’ll likely get a much ...Read more

HOA board president asks resident to research regulations regarding ‘no smoking’ measure

Q: Your newspaper article about home smoking policies from last summer prompted me to try to get my homeowners association (HOA) to pass “no smoking” measures in my small development. The board president has asked me to do research regarding which regulatory government I need to contact to push this forward in our organization.

Where do you...Read more



Darrin Bell Gary McCoy Andy Capp Bill Bramhall Garfield Between Friends