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Scottsdale Legal Blog

Zero-down home loans are back and risky

Putting money down for purchase of residential real estate has costs but provided protection to purchasers and lenders. The reappearance of zero-down loans, those that require no down payment, may apply the notion of penny smart but dollar dumb to real estate.

These loans, also known as 100 percent financing, were used during the national real estate boom in 2003 to 2006 to assist potential homeowners with no financial assets, bad credit and unstable employment. Some loans did not require disclosure of income and debt.

Tenant screening cannot discriminate

The U.S. Fair Housing Act and Arizona law clearly prohibit discrimination in real estate and housing. However, landlords can screen potential tenants concerning their income, employment, references and credit history to assure, in a neutral and unbiased manner, that applicants are qualified.

However, all screening policies must be applied to every applicant uniformly. Exceptions should not be made for any applicants.

Last-to-die policy serves a special needs child and siblings

Let us say that your son Gary becomes disabled as an adult due to injuries suffered in a car crash. You want to make the proper financial arrangements for his care, especially after you die, but you do not want to create any issues with the other beneficiaries of your estate, namely your twin daughters.

One solution is to fund a third-party trust using a last-to-die insurance policy.

Rule designed to stop elder financial abuse

Elderly Americans lose up to $30 billion each year because of financial abuse, according to an estimate. Some of this misappropriation includes presumably trusted family members and others who misused their legal authority. Properly-drafted guardianships should prevent this misconduct, but these relationships may be exploited.

On February 5, a new rule takes effect that requires certain brokers subject to the rules to ask that their customers provide the name of a trusted contact like a friend or family member when a new account is opened. The broker could contact that person if there is reason to believe that the client is a victim of financial exploitation. The rule was issued by Finra, the self-regulatory agency with oversight of brokers.

Avoiding a will challenge

A combination of sloppy drafting and bad circumstances can lead to estate litigation involving beneficiaries challenging a will. There are several ways, however, to help avoid this legal dispute.

The person who makes the will, the testator, must be competent by understanding the type and extent of the estate's assets, the disposition intended in the will and the contents of the will. A will cannot be executed through undue influence on the testator.

Your partnership agreement should include dissolution terms

No doubt you feel excited about starting your new venture, and you believe you have the perfect partner to help the business succeed. When it is time to create a partnership agreement, make sure you include all the salient points.

Your initial agreement should not only state how you intend to begin your partnership but also how you plan to end it should dissolution become necessary.

Congress reviews mortgage changes

Congress is reviewing reforms to housing finance that could impact real estate financing in Arizona and across the country. Senators are involved in negotiations on legislation that could place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into receivership and repeal their charters. Multiple mortgage guarantors would replace these financing agencies in the plan under negotiation.

The Federal Housing Financing Agency proposed a plan that would recreate these agencies into utilities that would be protected by catastrophic loss through federal guarantees. The FHFA also called for a limited number of guarantors because too many guarantors could weaken underwriting standards.

How to avoid probate

Probate may be an essential part of estate planning in Arizona. However, planning should also include options for avoiding probate because of its costs and inconvenience.

Probate is the entire legal process of settling and administering a decedent's estate. It requires appearing before a judge to prove that the deceased's last will and testament is authentic.

Company settles bad mortgage charges

Serious risks may be associated with entering residential real estate agreements in Arizona. Lack of disclosure and other predatory practices can turn a purchase into a financial debacle for homeowners purchasing real estate and dealing with mortgages.

PHH Mortgage Corp. recently settled with Arizona and 47 other states over allegations concerning its practices during the housing crash. As part of the settlement, over 2,000 families in this state are eligible for part of a $45 million fund set up by the New Jersey-based mortgage lender and servicer to resolve claims.

Was duress or undue influence present in creating a will?

It is not unusual for an angry relative to contest a will, especially when there are significant assets awaiting distribution from the decedent’s estate.

The angry party may proclaim that the testator wrote the will under duress or that undue influence was involved. What is the difference and what can you do?

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