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Contact Information
Delaware
Middletown
227 E. Main Street
Middletown, DE 19709
Phone: 302.376.8900
Fax: 302.376.8400
Email: bglancy@stratalawllc.com
Maryland and Virginia
Bare Hills Corporate Center
1425 Clarkview Road, Suite 850
Baltimore, MD 21209
Phone: 410.583.0700
Fax: 410.583.4665
Email: pburstein@stratalawllc.com
 
 
Estate Planning FAQs
What is a Will
Does a Will dispose of all assets?
Who can make a Will?
Are there formal requirements for a valid Will?
Is a Will that has been executed in another state valid in Maryland?
Can a Will be changed?
When should a Will be changed?
What if I die without a Will?
Can a Will provide for anatomical gifts?
How should my Will provide for the care of my minor children?
Where should a Will be kept?
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?
What is an Advance Directive?
 
Real Estate FAQs
What do I need to bring to settlement?
When will I know the final amount of money I need to bring to settlement?
Do I need to have certified funds or a certified check?
What is the difference between Attorney State and Title State?
What does the attorney’s office do for the buyer?
Does the buyer’s attorney also represent the seller?
What is a survey?
What is a title search?
What is title insurance?
Can your attorneys assist me with a Will or estate planning?
Can your attorneys assist me in setting up an LLC or corporation?
Estate Planning FAQs Answers
1 .   What is a Will?
A Will is a written document that directs the disposition of a person’s property after death.
2 .   Does a Will dispose of all assets?
A Will is effective only with regard to certain types of assets, often called “probate” assets. Generally, these are assets that belong solely to you or are titled only in your name.

A Will does not affect the disposition of property that is titled in the names of two or more persons as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.” Property titled in this manner will automatically belong to the surviving joint owner(s) upon the death of the first joint owner, regardless of the provisions of the decedent’s Will. Similarly, property owned by you and your spouse as “tenants by the entirety” will immediately become the sole property of the surviving spouse when the other spouse dies. However, your interest in property that you own with someone else as “tenants in common” is a probate asset, which will be disposed of by your Will when you die.

As a general rule, a Will does not dispose of insurance proceeds. These proceeds will be paid to the beneficiary designated with the insurance company. Retirement accounts and annuities are not affected by a Will unless no beneficiary is designated, which can have adverse income tax consequences.
3 .   Who can make a Will?
Anyone who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind can make a Will.
4 .   Are there formal requirements for a valid Will?
Each State has specific requirements for executing a valid Will. In both Delaware and Maryland, you must sign your Will, and two or more witnesses must sign the Will in your presence. Each witness must be at least 18 years old.
5 .   Is a Will that has been executed in another state valid?
A Will that is valid in the state where it was executed will be valid in both Delaware and Maryland. However, if your Will was prepared in another state, it should be reviewed to ensure that the language used in the other state will be given the same interpretation under Delaware or Maryland law.
6 .   Can a Will be changed?
If you are of sound mind, you can change your Will at any time by signing a document called a “codicil,” which is an amendment to your Will, or by having a new Will prepared. Both codicils and new Wills must be executed with the same formal requirements as the original Will. You should never attempt to change your Will by writing on it.
7 .   When should a Will be changed?
You should review your Will every 3 to 5 years. A significant change in personal or financial circumstances may mean that your Will should be revised or replaced. For example, births, deaths or a change in marital status warrants a review of your Will. Changes in federal or state tax laws may necessitate revisions to your Will as well.
8 .   What if I die without a Will?
If you die without a Will (“intestate”), state law will determine how your probate assets will be distributed. Contrary to popular belief, your assets do not transfer to the State if you die without a will. However, the applicable laws may direct transfer of your probate assets to persons and in proportions, which are contrary to your desires. Such issues can be avoided by preparing a valid will directing the disposition of your estate.
9 .   Can a Will provide for anatomical gifts?
A Will may include specific directions for the disposition of your body and for your funeral. Because your Will may not be reviewed immediately after death, such directions should be communicated to family members so they are aware of your wishes at the time of your death. If you wish to donate your body for research or transplantation, you should also notify family members and carry an organ donor card or note your wishes on your driver’s license.
10 .   How should my Will provide for the care of my minor children?
In your Will, you may name the person who will serve as guardian if you and your spouse both die while the child is under the age of 18. A Will also gives you the opportunity to create trusts that will control how, when and under what circumstances your assets will be turned over to your children. In this way, you can prevent funds from being distributed to children before they are mature enough to handle them responsibly. If you have minor children, a valid Will is essential if for no other reason than to make clear your preference for a guardian of any such child. Otherwise, the Courts will decide who will be guardian of your children.
11 .   Where should a Will be kept?
A Will should be kept in a safe place to avoid accidental loss or destruction. You can leave your Will in the law firm’s vault or file it with the Register of Wills in the county where you live. You should only keep a Will in a safe deposit box if someone other than you has access to the box.
12 .   What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
Pursuant to this type of power of attorney, you appoint a person to manage your finances on your behalf. Such Powers can be effective only upon disability or effective immediately. We will discuss with you which type of Durable Power of Attorney best meets your needs.
13 .   What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?
Pursuant to this type of power of attorney, you appoint a person to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your own wishes. Unlike General Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers are only effective if you are in fact unable to make decisions for yourself. A Health Care Power of Attorney can be a stand-alone document or part of an Advanced Directive.
14 .   What is an Advance Directive?
The Advance Directive has the dual purpose of appointing someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself and expressing your preferences regarding artificial life support in the event of a terminal end-stage condition or persistent vegetative state – sometimes referred to as a “Living Will”. Living Wills are a matter of personal choice for each individual.
Real Estate FAQs Answers
15 .   What do I need to bring to settlement?
You must bring a valid government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and a certified or personal check for the funds needed for settlement
16 .   When will I know the final amount of money I need to bring to settlement?
The legal assistant for your particular transaction will complete the settlement statement as soon as we receive the loan package from your lender. Many times, that may not occur until right before settlement. If a final number is not available prior to settlement, you may provide us with the good faith estimate provided by your mortgage broker or lender and we will calculate an estimate of the funds needed for settlement. You can than get a certified check made payable to Strata Law, LLC in that amount. We will either refund any overage or you can write a small personal check for any difference.
17 .   Do I need to have certified funds or a certified check?
If the amount you need for settlement is more than $2,000.00 you will need a certified check or a cashier’s check (or you may wire transfer the funds to our office prior to your settlement). If the amount you need is less than $2,000.00 you can write a personal check. All checks are to be made payable to Strata Law, LLC.
18 .   What is the difference between Attorney State and Title State?
In a Title State, title insurance companies are permitted to prepare documents for and conduct real estate settlements. In an Attorney State, state laws require real estate settlements to be conducted by an Attorney licensed to practice in that state. Generally, these states also have very strict laws regarding the real estate settlement process, including the handling of settlement funds. Maryland is a Title State, whereas Delaware is an Attorney State.
19 .   What does the attorney’s office do for the buyer?
The attorney’s office provides a number of services. Some of the most important are the following: (a) prepare the HUD-1 settlement statement; (b) prepare the deed which will transfer ownership to the buyer; (c) examine and certify title to the property you are buying; (d) order and review the survey of the property; (e) obtain title insurance for the property; (f) pay off all existing liens and/or judgments; (g) help resolve problems.
20 .   Does the buyer’s attorney also represent the seller?
Generally speaking, No. The buyer’s attorney only represents the buyer. However, if there are problems prior to settlement the buyer’s attorney can work with both parties to resolve any issues. Although sellers usually do not have an attorney for settlement, they can retain an attorney to advise them if they feel it is necessary. Also, there may be some situations where the settlement attorney has represented the Seller in the past, or has been asked to represent both parties. Any such dual representation will be disclosed to you and we will only continue to act with your written consent.
21 .   What is a survey?
The survey will show any existing structures, fences and other improvements on the property in relation to the property lines. If there are any encroachments or violations the attorney will contact you prior to settlement to discuss these issues with you. If you are borrowing money to buy the property, a survey will usually be required by your mortgage company. A survey, by itself, does not provide a permanent marker of the corners of the property. Such permanent markers are available at an extra cost to the survey company and you will be given the opportunity to request permanent markers if you desire.
22 .   What is a title search?
A title search is an examination of the public records in order to find any liens or judgments against the property and to confirm that the Seller has good title to what he or she is selling. One of our primary responsibilities is to review and certify title to make sure the Buyer of the property is getting what they bargained for.
23 .   What is title insurance?
Title insurance protects against losses incurred as a result of certain defects in title that may not have been disclosed by the title search. Examples of a defective title covered by a basic policy of title insurance include a fraudulent or forged deed in the chain of title, a missing heir to an estate which owned the property, or a deed signed by an incompetent (minor or mentally infirm person). In addition, there is now available a policy of title insurance called “enhanced coverage” or “Homeowners Policy”. This type of policy greatly increases the amount of protection offered to a homebuyer including coverage against zoning or subdivision violations, building permit violations and survey encroachments. Please call us for a further explanation and comparison of your title insurance options.

All lenders require title insurance to protect their interest in the property. It is recommended that all purchasers also obtain owners title insurance to protect their interests.
24 .   Can your attorneys assist me with a Will or estate planning?
Yes. Strata Law, LLC provides a variety of legal services, including the preparation of wills, powers of attorney and advanced care directives. If you have questions about the services we offer, you should contact our office and ask to be connected to an attorney.
25 .   Can your attorneys assist me in setting up an LLC or corporation?
Yes. Call an attorney in our office to schedule a meeting to discuss your needs and then we can quickly and easily form the entity best for your circumstances.
 
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