The following information includes frequently asked questions concerning various areas of the law. The answers stated are general in nature and are not intended to apply to every situation. Each case is different and carries its own set of circumstances that must be taken into consideration by competent legal counsel. By contacting the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania litigation lawyers of Brooks, Bradley & Doyle, you can receive a personal consultation regarding your specific legal claim.
Should I hire a civil law attorney? Are you party to a lawsuit? If so, then you definitely need a civil law attorney to represent you in your case. Even if you are not party to any civil lawsuits, you may find that retaining an attorney can be quite beneficial. For example, if you are creating or party to a trust, contract, mortgage, title or lease, a civil law attorney can advise you of your legal rights and obligations to save you a lot of money and legal hassles down the road. A qualified civil law attorney can also help you if you are running a business, as businesses end up in civil lawsuits all the time. A civil law attorney can give you timely advice that can save you from costly civil law litigation. For more information, contact the Philadelphia civil litigation attorneys of Brooks, Bradley & Doyle today. Back to Business Litigation What is Business Litigation? Business litigation involves business people representing a variety of industries on local, state and federal levels in matters pertaining to such diverse areas as:
Back to Business Litigation What do Business Law Attorneys do? Business law encompasses rules, statutes, codes and regulations that are established which govern commercial relationships and provide a legal framework within which business law attorneys may help you conduct and manage your business. Business law attorneys help you with every aspect of highly diverse business law including areas such as banking and finance law, business formation and organization, business negotiations, business planning, transactional business law, acquisition, merger, divestiture and sale of businesses, and business litigation, as well as environmental, intellectual property, labor and civil law areas. Back to Business Litigation What are some of the most common types of business organizations? The most common types of business organizations include:
Back to Business Litigation What is a nonprofit corporation? A nonprofit corporation (whether incorporated or as an unincorporated association) is an organization in which no part of the income is distributable to its members, directors, or officers. The corporation is not prohibited from making a profit; the prohibition is the distribution of any profits to members, officers or directors of the organization. Nonprofit corporations are formed pursuant to state law. Nonprofit corporations must apply for exempt status, both at the federal and state level. Back to Business Litigation
What is the title? A title is the foundation of property ownership. It is evidence of the owner’s right to possess and use the property. Back to Real Estate Why is transferring the title to real estate different from transferring the title to other items, such as a car? The reason for the difference is that land itself is different from the other items. The land is permanent and can have many owners over the years. Various rights in land (such as mineral, air or utility rights) may have been acquired by others by the time you come into possession of it, even if the land has never before been built upon. In order to transfer a clear title to a piece of land, it is first necessary to determine whether any rights are outstanding. Back to Real Estate What is a title search? A title search is a detailed examination of the historical records concerning a property. These records include deeds, court records, property and name indexes and many other documents. The purpose of the search is to verify the seller’s right to transfer ownership, and to discover any claims, defects and other rights or burdens on the property. Back to Real Estate What kinds of problems can a title search reveal? A title search can show a number of title defects and liens, as well as other encumbrances and restrictions. Among these are unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, judgments against the seller and restrictions limiting the use of the land. Back to Real Estate What is a lien? A lien is any legal claim on real property that acts as a security for the payment of a debt or other obligation. If the debt is not repaid as promised, the lender or the lien holder can foreclose its claim on the property and force a public sale to pay the debt. There are many types of liens, but the most common lien by far is a mortgage. Other types of liens are commonly encountered and part of the work of the real estate attorney is to check for outstanding liens at the time a real estate transaction closes. These include such things as judgment liens resulting from a court judgment against the owners, mechanic’s liens resulting from recent improvements to the property, liens for unpaid taxes and liens for unpaid municipal utilities such as water and sewer. Often, if a seller is divorced, the divorce decree will provide the ex-spouse with a lien on the couple’s property to be paid at the time of sale. Back to Real Estate What is title insurance? Title insurance is your policy of protection against loss if any of these problems – even a “hidden hazard” – results in a claim against your ownership. Back to Real Estate How much could I lose if a claim is filed against my property? That depends on the claim. In an extreme case, you could lose your entire home and property – and still be liable to pay off the balance of your mortgage. Most claims aren’t that dramatic, but even the smallest claim can cost you time, money and aggravation, and you may have to pay costs for a legal defense. Back to Real Estate What is Eminent Domain? Eminent Domain is a legal proceeding under which the government can seize a piece of privately owned real estate, even if the owner objects to the seizure, so that the land can be used for some public purpose. Traditionally, eminent domain has been invoked when the government needs the land in order to complete some public project such as a road or a bridge. A recent decision by the United States Supreme Court held that eminent domain proceedings were appropriate even in a case where the government’s intention in seizing the land is to sell it to some third party in order to complete a private development project seen as beneficial to the public interest. In exercising its authority under eminent domain, the government is required to pay the owner the fair market value of the property. The land seizure itself is rarely the subject of eminent domain litigation. Most eminent domain lawsuits involve a dispute over the price the government wants to pay for the land. Back to Real Estate What is inverse condemnation? Inverse condemnation is similar in some ways to eminent domain. The difference is that in eminent domain proceedings the government wants to force the landowner to sell his property, while in inverse condemnation proceedings the landowner wants to force the government to buy it. The theory of inverse condemnation is that government action has destroyed or substantially reduced the value of the property. Typically, inverse condemnation will involve, for example, situations in which the government passes zoning or other regulations which make it difficult if not impossible for the landowner to continue using the land for its then existing use. In essence, inverse condemnation urges the court that since the government action has destroyed the value of the property to the owner, the government should have to buy it for fair market value. Back to Real Estate
What is Probate? Probate is a process whereby the Court supervises the transfer of assets from the deceased person to his or her heirs and requires the filing of particularized and complicated legal forms. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania probate attorneys of Brooks, Bradley & Doyle have particular expertise and experience in the area of probate and estate administration. They can promptly respond to your questions and inquiries and assist you with the probate and estate administration process in a professional, courteous and timely manner. If an Estate Tax Return is required, these exemplary attorneys have the expertise and ability to promptly take care of this important tax requirement and can also assist with the following types of probate matters:
Back to Wills and Probate How is a Will probated? The following is a simplified outline of the general probate process:
During this time period, the Personal Representative has to identify and collect assets of the Estate. To do this, the Personal Representative finds all bank and security accounts, debts owed to the Decedent, property owned by the Decedent, etc. The Personal Representative also has to maintain the assets in good condition. This consists of maintaining insurance coverage, collecting rent, protecting assets from theft or damage, etc. The Personal Representative may also liquidate assets such as cars, real estate, etc. during this time. When the four-month claims period has expired, and when all assets have been collected, real property sold, and assuming no problems have presented themselves such as the Will being contested, the Personal Representative then files a petition with the probate court to allow a distribution of all remaining assets to the beneficiaries/heirs and files a detailed accounting with the Court setting forth all monies received, monies disbursed, how assets were invested, and the proposed plan for distribution. If the Court approves the plan, the Personal Representative then divides the assets as instructed in the Will, or as required by statute if no Will exists. The probate process can sometimes be completed in approximately six months, but it normally takes longer. Reasons for delays can include Will contests, the property cannot be sold, claimants not being notified in the original four-month claim period, etc. Back to Wills and Probate Are there different types of Wills? There are many types of Wills:
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania estate planning lawyers of Brooks, Bradley & Doyle can help you or a loved one decide which type of Will is most suitable. Back to Wills and Probate Who should make a Will? Every adult person should consider making a Will. Each year a large number of people die without Wills, leaving major decisions in the hands of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Wills are especially important for parents of children who are under eighteen, as arrangements for the children’s financial support and/or appointed guardian can be determined. Without a Will, any property distributed to minor children could be subject to an expensive court-appointed guardianship, which could greatly affect inheritance. And in some states, if you were married and childless, your parents could split your property with your spouse if not alternatively predetermined in a Will. Back to Wills and Probate How does Trust work? Trusts are the process by which the grantor transfers legal ownership to a person or institution (called the trustee) to manage the property for the benefit of another person (called the beneficiary). Trusts create a fiduciary relationship between the trustee and the beneficiary. The trustee must act solely in the best interests of the beneficiary when dealing with the trust property. If a trustee does not live up to this duty, the trustee is legally accountable to the beneficiary for any damage to his or her interests. The grantor may act as the trustee himself or herself, and retain ownership instead of transferring the property. A grantor may also name themselves as one of the beneficiaries of the trust. Back to Wills and Probate What are Estate (Death) Taxes? Estate tax may apply to your taxable estate at your death. Your taxable estate is your gross estate less allowable deductions. Your gross estate includes the value of all property in which you had an interest at the time of death. Your gross estate also will include the following.
The allowable deductions used in determining your taxable estate include:
If you or a loved one needs business or real estate litigation advice, require the services of an experienced estate planning attorney, or have questions and want legal counsel on any of the information provided within, please contact the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania litigation attorneys of Brooks, Bradley & Doyle today, at 610-565-4800, or use the contact form provided on this site to schedule your free consultation with an experienced and trusted Philadelphia civil litigation lawyer. Back to Top
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21 West 2nd Street
Media, PA 19063
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