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Griffin Georgia Law Blog

How to increase a home's value prior to a sale

Georgia homeowners generally want to get the most from their properties when it comes time to sell. While some factors influencing a home's value are not in their control, there are several ways to get a higher price. For instance, a homeowner can improve the home's curb appeal by planting flowers or painting the front door. By making the outside look nice, buyers are more likely to want to see what's inside as well.

Making a home more efficient can make it more enticing for buyers as well. This could be done by installing LED lights or appliances that use less energy. An energy assessment can be conducted on a property to determine which upgrades could have the greatest return on investment. In addition to energy efficiency, a home that's easy to maintain is one that a buyer could pay more for.

Downsizing made easier

You have lived in your home for many years now. It holds countless memories, but now that your kids are grown and in homes of their own, it might be time to downsize. You might not want to live in such a big house if it is not filled with friends and family anymore.

Moving into a smaller home can take stress out of your life. You will have fewer belongings and less to take care of, which means more time to do other activities you enjoy. Sorting through your belongings early can make life less stressful in the long run, too.

FHA buyers purchasing fewer flipped properties

Only 15.9 percent of homes that were flipped in the first quarter of 2018 were sold to those who bought them with Federal Housing Administration loans. That is the lowest rate in the last 10 years. Rising home prices are one of the reasons why first-time buyers in Georgia and elsewhere are not buying flipped properties. The median price of a flipped property was $215,000 through the first three months of 2018.

The rising prices are also what have attracted people to buy homes with the intent of rehabbing and selling them quickly. It is important to note that a person doesn't necessarily need to be a first-time buyer to qualify for an FHA loan. Furthermore, there is no requirement for an individual to use an FHA loan to buy their first home. However, it is not uncommon for people to buy their first homes using this loan option.

How to use a pour-over will as a safety net.

Estate owners in Georgia use trusts for a variety of reasons. Trusts can make the transfer of property easier and less complicated, prevent probate issues and specify instructions for property administration after the death or disability of the grantor.

After a trust has been created, however, the grantor could acquire additional property. Sometimes, the grantor will forget to place this subsequent property under trust. If this is the case, assets may not be administered in the manner intended. Instead, they'll be administered following the intestate succession laws of the state. These laws are often contrary to the instructions of trusts.

Planning for the future of one's estate

When people in Georgia begin to think about the future of their families, it may be time to consider estate planning more seriously. Making a plan for one's estate can be important for people at all levels of wealth; whether one is leaving behind substantial assets or a small sum, establishing a clear plan can help to protect oneself and provide peace of mind for one's loved ones.

The purpose of an estate plan is to create the necessary documents to arrange for the management of a person's assets through their life and after death. In addition, it can include creating key documents to help a person address medical and financial needs in the case of incapacity.

Complexities arise during estate planning process

Georgia residents have a lot to consider when they think about the future of their estates, especially how they can use the estate planning process to promote family unity rather than division and how they can best preserve their wealth to benefit their heirs. In many cases, it is difficult to sustain inter-generational wealth, and in other cases, family members start to fight about inheritances after their loved one passes away. Unfortunately, estate planning issues can often lead to internal family disputes and expose resentments that already exist.

However, people can help their families avoid this outcome by considering these issues during the estate planning process. A person may want to put a great deal of thought into how best to divide the estate. In some cases, dividing the estate in equal shares among multiple children is a simple and effective way to accomplish their goals. However, for other families, considering other fair or equitable solutions may be more suited to their needs. For example, a person could establish a trust to be used for the educational costs of all their children or another specified purpose to which all beneficiaries have access.

Types of trusts: a revocable living trust may work for you

You have worked hard to earn your success over the years. As you advance in age and experience, it’s natural to consider where your assets are going to go after you pass on. Do you plan to leave it all to your spouse? Do you want to divvy out cash stipends to your grandchildren when they reach college? These are things that can be handled with a trust.

We have already explained the key roles people will play when you set up a trust, now let’s consider what type of trust will be a good fit for you. Often, people will choose to put their assets into a “revocable living trust”, due to their ability to be customized, and how easy they are to be settled.

Four ways to ensure a solid estate plan

Georgia residents who are thinking about planning their estate will want to know all of the provisions they should make. Otherwise, gaps in the plan will leave them vulnerable to financial abuse and unexpected events, such as accidents that leave them unable to make their own decisions.

Estate planning doucments should be kept in a secure location that's nevertheless accessible to family members. Estate planning platforms like Everplans and Whealthcare Planning can store plans online and are available to both consumers and financial advisers.

Tips for appointing the right trustee

Georgia residents can use a trust as part of an estate plan in a number of different ways. For example, assets such as IRAs can be placed in a trust so they can continue to grow in value tax-free. Another advantage of a trust is that it can allow a person to specify how distributions are made. For example, a beneficiary might only receive distributions at certain ages.

The trustee is the person who manages the trust. A grantor will often appoint a close friend or family member as trustee, reasoning that this person knows the beneficiaries and will understand the grantor's intentions for the trust. However, the drawback is that managing a trust can be both an enormous amount of work and require a level of legal and financial expertise this trustee does not have.

Important details about buying foreclosed properties

Georgia residents who are looking for a home could find themselves interested in a foreclosed property. However, they should be aware that with fewer houses on the market today, foreclosures could cost just as much as any other home listed for sale. There were 676,535 foreclosure filings in 2017, and that was down 76 percent from roughly 2.9 million in 2010. The 2017 figure was also 27 percent lower than the number of filings in 2016.

What buyers ultimately pay for a foreclosed property could also depend on what point in the foreclosure process the home is in. As a general rule, buyers want to purchase the home in the pre-foreclosure stage or when the home is sold at auction to get the best deal. During pre-foreclosure, there may be less competition for the home, and it is possible to buy it without the need for a real estate agent.

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