Welcome to our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page!
Most of the questions we are asked most often can be found below, but be sure to contact us if you need further explanation or more help.
Durable Powers Of Attorney
Have you ever wondered who will pay your bills and make financial arrangements on your behalf if you lose the mental and physical capacity to do so? If so, then you should read on about the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) planning document.
Q: What is a General Durable Power of Attorney?
A: A general durable power of attorney is a document that is used to designate an individual to act on your behalf in case you become incapacitated. This individual is known as your “Agent” and is the person who will step into your shoes to manage your affairs should you become incapacitated.
Q: Who should I pick as my Agent?
A: The person you appoint as your Agent is your DPOA. It should be someone you trust to manage your finances. Typically, clients appoint their spouse, an adult child, a family member or a trusted friend.
Q: Will my Agent have access to my assets while I have capacity?
A: You may choose whether your DPOA is effective now or sometime in the future (upon your incapacity).
You should only appoint individuals you absolutely trust as your Agent.
Q: I am in good health – do I need a DPOA now?
A: The answer is a resounding “Yes”. None of us can predict the future and anyone could be involved in a serious accident resulting in their temporary or permanent incapacity. It is important for both your welfare and your family’s welfare to have a plan in place now before it is too late.
Q: I created a DPOA five years ago – is it still good?
A: A DPOA is valid unless it is revoked. With that said, we recommend that everyone re-execute their DPOA every three to five years. Financial institutions are becoming increasingly strict in their standards and regulations, so executing a DPOA every three to five years prevents banks and other financial institutions from refusing to enforce your document because it is “stale”.
Q: What happens if I do not have a DPOA?
A: If you do not have a DPOA, your family may run into some difficulty managing your financial affairs. For instance, if you are married and hold the title to your home as “tenants by the entirety”, your spouse would be unable to obtain a home equity line of credit if one was needed upon your incapacity to pay medical bills or other expenses. While many financial institutions are friendly towards spouses acting as surrogates, this is not always the case. If you are unmarried, it becomes increasingly difficult for your family or friends to step-in, on your behalf, to take care of your finances.
If you do not have a valid DPOA in place, your spouse, adult child, family member or friend will have to petition the Court to obtain something known as “Guardianship” over your property. This frequently involves thousands of dollars in court fees and attorney’s fees, and most important, takes time, something you may not have.
Taking the time to think about the future and plan for your possible incapacity will help you sleep soundly at night. Moreover, preparedness is one of the most generous things we can do for our loved ones.
Real Estate Settlements
Q: Do I need a survey?
A: Most lenders require that a survey is done. However, even if you do not have a lender, a survey is important because it will reveal whether or not the property you are purchasing is encroaching into municipality setbacks or into surrounding properties. Likewise, it will reveal any encroachment issues (i.e. trees, driveways, sidewalks, fences, out buildings).
Q: Do I need title insurance?
A: Title insurance rates are regulated by the Insurance Commissioner in Delaware. Therefore, the cost is the same no matter which title insurance company you use. Lenders require that you purchase title insurance for the lender based on the loan amount. Owner’s title insurance is based upon the contract price. Title insurance is very important because it protects your ownership interest in the property. Once settlement is over and you have purchased the property, any title issues become yours. Title searches can only reveal so much and title insurance can cover you for title defects that are not apparent from a title search. These defects include mechanic’s liens (for unpaid contractors and subcontractors), fraudulent conveyances, errors in notary clauses, etc.
Q: Can I bring cash to closing?
A: No. Any funds required for settlement are required in the form of a wire into our escrow account prior to settlement. Wiring instructions are included in the initial letter from our office.
Q: Do I need to attend settlement?
A: If you are a Seller and do not wish to attend closing, then you may contact our office to arrange to have all of your documents signed, notarized, and returned to us prior to the settlement date. You may also grant someone else a specific power of attorney to sign settlement documents in your place. Most Buyers attend settlement. If you are a Buyer and your Lender gives permission, you may also contact our office to settle by mail or by power of attorney.
Q: Can I buy/sell property in the name of a Trust?
A: Yes. You will need to provide a copy of your Trust agreement to our office prior to settlement. If your Trust permits it, then you may buy/sell property in the name of your Trust. If you are a Buyer, you should always ask your lender first.
• Real Testimonials from Real People
I am writing to thank you for the extraordinary service you and Susan provided me with my Dewey Beach real estate purchase. It is an understatement to say the steps leading to the closing were complicated and difficult. However, your expertise and extreme responsiveness ensured it happened in a timely fashion and with little burden on us. As a lawyer in the D.C. area, I believe your office provided a model for how to treat clients. I have and will continue to refer clients who need help in Delaware and Maryland to you.
~ John Dedon, Client
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For more information about powers of attorney, call Weidman & Townsend, P.A. at 302-539-1388 in Ocean View, 302-227-7788 in Rehoboth Beach and 302-934-3999 in Millsboro.