Legal Wanderings

Buying from a third hand owner can really get complicated quickly. Let me tell you: it’s great to have a lawyer friend.

Even though we own a good number of properties, I have actually never personally drawn up a purchase before; we bought one house at tax auction, two jointly with friends who took care of the purchase, and our own house was purchased by Hillary through a realtor just a few days before we met.

Technically, the property we are buying is still in the name of the original deceased owner, and since her parents survived her, they gain ownership through probate. But, since the parents are elderly, their children (according to them) have power of attorney to execute agreements on their behalf. This is further complicated by the fact that the probate process is not over. Not to mention, there are also back taxes due, and we aren’t positive of the state of any liens or mortgages!

With the price we are paying, no bank would be interested in providing us with a mortgage of our own, and we don’t have a real estate agent to guide us through the proper forms, since this is a direct sale. A bit of reorganization in our bank and savings accounts should allow us to pay cash for the property at closing.

The money part I can handle on my own, but how do you navigate this quandary of legal complications? Years of education and experience. We met with our lawyer and laid out all of the stipulations that I just told you, and within 30 minutes, we had worked out a solid plan to execute a properly worded purchase agreement to the proper party, perform a title search, and register the new deed.

Is it important to get a specialty lawyer? Not always, but its a big help. Many lawyers have a specific focus in their work which they decided on back in their schooling, so even through they may have a lot of general legal knowledge, there are definitely areas in which they excel. A lawyer that focuses on property or estate law would be important in our situation.

Now that this weight has been helpfully lifted from our shoulders, we are free to enter the dreaming stage and muse about what we want to do in the house once we finally have access… I think a call to the dumpster delivery guy will be first on the list, and then a chainsaw to get rid of those trees that are suspiciously close to the foundation…

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