“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
You may be familiar with this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin and think advice from the 1700s would be inapplicable for business decisions in 21st century. However, our experience tells us otherwise.
Business owners who try to act as their own attorney when entering into a legally binding document, like a commercial lease agreement, assume a tremendous amount of financial risk. Many intelligent individuals find themselves in the middle of what would have otherwise been a preventable legal or financial mess if they had only sought proper legal advice.
Some common items that often trip up business owners when it comes to commercial leases are the exclusion or deficient use of the following clauses:
1. Attorney Fee Clause: If your contract dispute requires litigation, attorney’s fees and court costs should be paid by the person who loses the litigation. Including this clause acts as a deterrent to the filing of frivolous claims.
2. Use of the Property: Avoid surprises by ensuring that the tenant’s intended use of the property is explicitly permitted in the lease.
3. Approval of Alterations and Signage: A commercial lease should require the landlord’s prior written approval prior to the tenant making any substantial alterations to the property. There should also be language requiring that any alterations made be in a workmanlike manner. Finally, the landlord should have to approve in writing to the tenant’s outdoor signage. This is due to the fact that many signage require making permanent alterations to the exterior of the building.
Q: My grandfather has very few assets except his residence in Kansas. He would like his house to go to my mother upon his death. Is there any way the property can transfer to my mother without a probate?
A: One of the easiest ways to accomplish this would be for your grandfather to execute a transfer on death deed to your mother. The transfer on death deed will transfer ownership of the property at your grandfather’s death, without probate, to your mother or any other person he names on the deed.
How does the transfer on death deed work in Kansas? The property owner (the “Grantor”) executes a specific deed that names a successor beneficiary as the recipient of the property at the Grantor’s death. The deed is then signed before a notary and recorded with the Register of Deeds in the county where the property is located.
The Grantor remains the legal owner while living. In addition, he may revoke the deed at any time prior to death by executing and recording a formal revocation or new deed with the county Register of Deeds. At the Grantor’s death, the person named as the beneficiary on the deed becomes the new property owner as soon as the Grantor’s death certificate is filed against the property.
Advantages/Disadvantages of transfer on death deed:
1. The property will pass to the named person after Grantor’s death without an expensive and lengthy probate.
2. The Grantor retains ownership and control of the property so long as he/she is living.
3. The property passes to the new owner immediately after the Grantor’s death. No delay occurs in the transfer of ownership; only the recording of the Grantor’s certified death certificate with the county Register of Deeds is required.
4. A transfer on death deed also can be used to transfer mineral interests.
5. A transfer on death deed provides future flexibility and the ability to revoke or change beneficiaries.
It’s finally summer. The kids are out of school and now is the time to visit the family vacation home for some rest and relaxation! If you’re like most people, your vacation home probably is located in a different state than your primary residence. As an owner of a vacation home, do you know how it will pass after your death to your heirs?
When someone dies in Kansas, any property owned in their individual name and without a Transfer on Death Deed will require a probate proceeding in order to transfer ownership to their heirs or beneficiaries. However, Kansas probate only applies to Kansas property. Real estate owned outside of the state—like a vacation home or investment property—will require a separate probate in the state where the property is located, known as an ancillary probate.
If the vacation home or investment property is put into a Trust during the owner’s lifetime, however, a probate can be avoided and the property can pass to whomever is named in the Trust. Even out of state
Q: Our house is owned by our Revocable Trust. We would like to sell the house. How do we remove the house from the Trust for the sale?
A: As the Grantors of your Trust, you can sell property in your Revocable Trust the same way you would sell a property titled in your own names. The only difference is that you use a different type of deed called a Trustees’ Deed. Trustees’ Deeds typically are prepared by your attorney. You should provide a copy of your existing deed on the property to your attorney, showing when the property was deeded to the Trust, and verifying the legal description and recording information. If you are providing title insurance as part of the sale, you will need to purchase a title commitment from your title company. This title commitment will stipulate the information that in required to be included on the deed. Your attorney will use this information to prepare the Trustees’ Deed and Affidavit or a Certification of Trust. An Affidavit/Certification of Trust in Kansas should state the name(s) of the Trustee(s) of the Trust, that the Trustee(s) are legally authorized to sell the property, and that the Trust is in good standing, among other things. The Affidavit may be combined with the Trustees’ Deed, while the Certification of Trust typically is a separate document. The Trustee(s) must sign these documents before a notary public. The documents
Q: What happens when you own property with someone and the co-owner dies?
A: The answer depends on how the property is titled. For Kansas residents, here’s the short and sweet version of how property will transfer if a co-owner dies:
Tenancy in Common:
If the owners are “tenants in common”, the deceased owner’s interest will transfer according to his/her estate plan, or intestacy laws should he/she fail to make a plan. The surviving owner(s) will not obtain the decedent’s interest unless they receive it under his/her estate. The surviving owner will continue to own the same percentage of property, but they may end up sharing the property ownership with a new co-owner(s) after the decedent’s estate is settled.
If the property is owned as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship and not as tenants in common” and one of the owners dies, the deceased person's interest transfers to the surviving joint tenant. For the surviving owner to obtain clear title, her/she must file an original death certificate of the decedent with the Register
If you own income-producing property, one of the ever-present concerns you face is the possibility of being sued by a tenant. If you own the income-producing property individually (not in and LLC or corporation), personal assets, such as your home and other investments could be subject to the Court judgment, should you be found guilty in the lawsuit. Additionally, have you considered what will happen when you die? Will your family fight over your home, vacation home, or investments properties?
If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to protect your assets from lawsuits or probate, you or your heirs could face a nightmare of legal fees and court dates. Two commonly used tools to protect real estate assets include limited liability companies (LLC) and trusts:
LLC: In a nutshell, an LLC protects your personal assets from lawsuits or claims that results from your ownership of assets in the LLC (in this case, real estate). You must comply with Kansas LLC laws in order to receive those protections, but with the assistance of an experienced attorney, this is easily accomplished. Your attorney should prepare the LLC formation documents, file your LLC with the State and advise you on your compliance duties with the State. Formation documents should at least include: Limited Liability Articles of Organization and an Operating Agreement detailing who the members are and what their
Q: If I add my child’s name to the title of my house, wouldn’t that be the easiest way to keep my house out of probate and transfer it quickly to my child after my death?
A: The answer to your question is a solid “maybe”. Your personal circumstances will dictate whether this estate planning strategy is the best move for you.
Adding your child’s name to your deed could speed the transfer of that asset to your beneficiaries, and keep it out of probate. But, before you run off and put your child’s name on the title of your house you should consider the risks.
1. By adding your child to the title of your home, you have made a gift that is subject to gift taxes. The gift is likely far below the current federal gift tax exclusion amount, so you shouldn’t have to pay gift taxes. However, you may need to file a gift tax return if the gift is over the annual exclusion amount.
2. If you need KanCare (Medicaid) assistance to pay for nursing home care within 5 years of adding your child’s name to the deed, you could be penalized when requesting benefits.
3. If your child dies before you, his/her interest in your home becomes part of his/her estate. This interest in your home will be subject to his/her liabilities and would pass to his/her beneficiaries as named in your child’s own estate plan. Someone you don’t trust could become the new co-owner of your home.
4. If you decide to sell the house and move, your child could legally refuse to transfer ownership back to
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