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Providence Legal Issues Blog

What are some common problems found during home inspections?

When investing in a new piece of property, a home inspection is an absolute must. The inspection lets you know if there are any issues the buyer neglected to mention, as these issues could end up costing you quite a bit. Once the home is in your name, you'll be largely responsible for any necessary repairs. The National Association of Realtors explains some of the more common issues found during home inspections so you can ensure that you have the right information. 

Most homeowners have experienced plumbing woes at some point. Maybe water pressure is poor in the shower or water is slow to drain completely. Keep in mind that even seemingly minor issues can become expensive problems over time, especially if they result in water damage. Water damage can also pose a real threat in the basement, especially if mold and mildew have already started to form.

Overwhelming debt? Address it with bankruptcy

As you age, one of the most frightening things is the idea of losing what you've gathered over the years. If you've lost a job or had a significant medical injury, then you may be worried about losing your assets as a result of your financial troubles.

The positive news is that bankruptcy might be a good choice for your situation. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are excellent options for people who face losing their home or who have outstanding medical debts. Here's a little more on each type of bankruptcy and what you should consider.

What should I look for in an estate planning attorney?

While you can perform estate planning tasks on your own, having an attorney by your side is often the better choice. Failure to create a solid and legally binding estate plan, which includes things like wills and trusts, will leave your family reeling in the aftermath of your death. When looking for a good attorney to help in this matter, The Balance recommends the following advice. 

First, it helps to understand just what an estate planning attorney actually does. Along with drafting wills and helping you set up a trust, they can also provide guidance on tax planning issues. Estate taxes can be quite steep when you have a large number of assets, and when passing on these assets your beneficiaries may bear the brunt of tax concerns. An attorney can also help with things like health care directives, which allow another person to oversee medical matters if you're ever incapacitated. 

Are powers of attorney applicable after death?

A power of attorney makes important financial and medical decisions on a person's behalf when serious illness or injury is present. However, when that person dies their power of attorney is no longer valid, meaning the person appointed is no longer capable of making such decisions. The Balance explains how estates are handled after a person is deceased. 

A power of attorney loses authority upon a person's death because a dead person cannot legally own property. All property and assets are passed along to probate court, where a number of processes take place. Debts will be paid off, estate taxes will be settled, and heirs will receive assets and property. People with wills in place upon their death go through probate, as do people without wills. There are key differences in representation in both cases. 

How can I prevent foreclosure?

After working so hard to buy a home, the prospect of foreclosure is very troubling. There are steps you can take to prevent the process from occurring, however, provided that you take swift action. offers tips on avoiding foreclosure and how to safeguard yourself against common scams targeting homeowners. 

Running into trouble paying your mortgage is very demoralizing. Don't let feelings of embarrassment prevent you from contacting your lender, as in many cases they're more than willing to help homeowners who've encountered financial trouble. It's important to reach out before making monthly mortgage payments becomes impossible. Be prepared to discuss the reasons why you're no longer able to make timely payments, which might be loss of employment or unexpected medical issues. You may be able to devise an arrangement to help you through a tough financial period. 

Yes, everyone should have an estate plan

Even if you don't have a lot of money, estate planning is something that you should do. While it's always made out to be something for the rich and famous, the reality is that every person in America should have an estate plan, even if it's just the basics.

Estate planning is important, because it helps others know your final wishes. Estate plans can also protect you in the case that you are unable to care for yourself. You can establish your will, a health care proxy, guardianship and other important documents and include them in your estate plan.

Emotional considerations regarding estate planning

When it comes to the estate planning process, there are many financial considerations that people have to take into account, of course. However, there are other factors that may need to be taken into consideration while creating (or modifying) an estate plan. For example, people should consider the emotional impact of estate planning, not only with respect to their own emotions but their loved ones' emotions as well. There are various positive and negative emotions that may arise as a result of one's estate plan, and being prepared can be very helpful.

In some instances, loved ones may become upset with an estate plan. For example, siblings may quarrel with each other over decisions that have been made, such as the way in which assets are split up or the person who is placed in charge of the estate. These emotions may ultimately lead to a dispute later on, which could be very difficult for the entire family. By taking these factors into account beforehand, some people are able to lessen the emotional impact of their estate plan. That said, there are also times when nothing can be done to prevent disputes between family members.

Does Rhode Island recognize holographic wills?

Many reason may exists as to why Rhode Island residents (and American adults in general) tend to put off their estate planning. Some might even tell you that you do not have to worry about it until you approach the end of your life, and that even when you do, all that's needed is a simple document (or even declaration) stating what you want done with your estates. This line of thinking fails to into account two very important points: first, no one knows when they are going to die (or much less have time to scribble down a last will and testament). Second, you should at least find out whether a hastily thrown together will is even valid. 

If you decide to simply write down your will in your own hand and sign it, what you have actually created is a holographic will. Most recognize a standard will as one that has been typed and prepared, witnessed by the appropriate number of witnesses, and legitimized by a notary. Some states will allow a handwritten will to be considered valid provided it meets all of the other criteria required of a legitimate will. Others will even recognize holographic wills created on one's death bed. 

What are your rights of access to your rental units?

Owning and maintaining a rental property in Providence can be quite a lucrative investment, yet you should be aware that assuming the role of landlord requires also agreeing to respect certain responsibilities. Chief among these is the responsibility to respect the rights of your tenants. You might assume that those rights are limited to those that would not normally involve property ownership, such as granting access to a rental location. As the owner, you probably think that you are entitled to enter your rental properties at any time. Yet that is not the case. 

Per the Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Handbook, you must provide your tenants with a two-day minimum written or verbal notice of your intention to enter into your units. Your reasons for entering must be valid, such as: 

  • To perform an inspection
  • To make repairs or improvements to the unit
  • To show the unit to a potential tenant or buyer

What you should know about the probate process

You may be filled with a myriad of emotions when you experience the loss of a close friend or loved one. While it can be difficult to navigate through this difficult time, there are matters of business that must be handled, such as managing the estate. Depending on how the deceased planned and organized their estate, dividing the estate to beneficiaries named in the will may be a simple process. If the deceased appointed an administrator, however, and did not set up the property in a trust, it may go through the probate process.

Probate is the process where a person’s estate, including property and assets, is distributed to the beneficiaries designated by the deceased in the last will and testament. As part of the process, all property and assets are gathered together and appraised. Any lingering expenses, such as taxes and debt, are then paid from the value of the estate. The remaining property and assets are then divided to beneficiaries or as otherwise directed by the deceased.

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