Common questions presented to our law offices and helpful information about our services and business model.
Q: Do you ever charge additional legal fees?
A: Typically there should be no additional legal fees other than those fees outlined in your retainer agreement. We do our best to stay within the scope of our agreement and meet pricing expectations. However, every legal situation is unique and there may be unforeseen legal issues that need to be addressed.
If additional legal services are required, we will notify you and let you make the decision whether to proceed. Our pricing model is generous, and we offer flat fees for unforeseen work as well. We want you to be satisfied with our flat fee business model and recommend us to others.
Q: Can we meet in person before I commit to your legal services?
A: Yes, we offer in-person legal consultations.
Typically, our services include an initial phone or video consultation, not an in-person meeting. Since most of us prefer the comfort of our home or office and are budget or social distancing oriented, we leverage technology to create savings which we pass on to you. We understand that time is the most valuable commodity for all of us.
With a phone or video consultation, our attorneys can consult with you wherever they are, at any reasonable time, even on the weekend or outside regular business hours. Otherwise, an in-person consultation requires us to schedule a lawyer to be physically present at one of our locations during business hours, which includes travel and extra costs.
Of course we understand some of us prefer face-to-face, and will gladly do so, but we respectfully request an additional consultation fee for our time. This way the in-person option is available should you want it, but it does not raise our fees for those that prefer the savings and ease of a telephone or video consultation.
Q: Do you offer discounts or bulk services?
A: Yes, we offer discounts and reduced legal fees for bulk services.
Our prices already reflect our current online discounts and are updated throughout the year usually by season. We are also working on additional discounts such as senior citizen and military.
Our reduced legal fees for bulk services apply to certain practice areas, especially business, estate planning, and intellectual property. Should you be interested in more than one service or deliverable, please visit our fees page to learn more.
Q: When is payment due?
A: Payment is due upfront. Since we offer extremely competitive legal fees, we feel it is fair to expect payment at the start. Should a situation arise out of your control that causes us to be unable to perform certain phases of our scope of work, you will be refunded that unearned portion. This usually applies to real estate transactions which do not reach closing.
Q: What form of payment do you accept?
A: We accept personal or certified check, money order, or wire transfer. We will also have credit card and crypto-currency options shortly.
Q: How long does it take to receive a legal service or deliverable?
A: It depends on the complexity of the scope of work, our work load, and third parties (if applicable). These are only rough estimates and do not include the time it takes a third party to respond to or process our work product. No services are time of the essence unless expressly stated in the retainer agreement.
For simple legal documents or matters, we average 5-10 business days turnaround. For more complex tasks, we average 10-15 business days. Complicated issues, 15+ business days. Real estate matters typically range anywhere from 30-90+ days as it all depends on financing (all cash vs. mortgage), the status of the subject property (i.e. short sales and coops take the longest) and any unforeseen issues or negotiations that may come up.
Q: Do you offer expedited legal services?
Yes we do, at our discretion.
Assuming it applies and our schedule permits, we can make it a priority to deliver certain services as soon as possible for an extra fee. Some services are dependent on third parties or government approval. Also, please keep in mind government fees increase for rush processing as well.
Q: Should I hire a real estate attorney for the sale of my property or represent myself?
A: As attorneys we believe it is in your best interests to retain a real estate attorney.
In New York, sellers of real estate almost always use a real estate lawyer. In New Jersey, the practice differs depending where you are. There is no law in either jurisdiction that requires you to get a real estate lawyer, but it is typically a good idea to find a real estate lawyer to work with especially if you have never been privy to a real estate transaction before. After all, you have made a significant investment in your property, it's probably a good idea to make sure the sale of your home goes through as best as possible.
With our flat fee legal services there are no hidden hourly fees so you can budget appropriately and still receive quality legal representation during the sale of your home. We believe peace of mind is priceless.
Q: What should I expect as a seller of real estate during the real estate transaction process?
A: Once you accept a buyer's offer, speak to your attorney; you should probably not put anything in writing until you do so. Allow your buyer's inspector access to find potential faults with the property. The buyer may request you make repairs prior to closing or reduce the purchase price.
Assuming you agree on which repairs to make or to reduce the purchase price, and other terms have been successfully negotiated, a real estate contract is signed by both parties. The buyer orders a title search report, obtains financing or provides proof of funds, and may need to get Board approval (coop) or handle another legal formality (condo).
When all conditions of the real estate transaction have been met, a real estate closing date is scheduled and you can move out. Permit the buyer a final walk-through before closing to inspect the condition of the property. During the real estate closing everything is finalized, certified payment is received, and keys are released to the new homeowners. The property must be delivered "vacant" and in "broom clean" condition at closing.
Q: What happens if issues arise during the real estate transaction? Do I get charged more?
A: Typical issues such as repair concerns, termite or pest inspection, reasonable negotiations on purchase price or contract terms do not incur additional charges.
However, if there are material issues that need to be resolved such as Certificate of Occupancy, Release of Liens, Code violations or other deal breakers, then yes, this is outside the scope of a standard real estate transaction and there are additional charges.
We will always offer you a fair flat fee for these additional legal services and you have the option to handle it yourself or use another attorney. Sometimes the buyer is motivated enough to be responsible for clearing title, these negotiations on your behalf do not incur additional charges.
Q: Should I hire a real estate attorney for the purchase of my residential property or represent myself?
A: As attorneys we believe it is in your best interests to hire a real estate attorney for the purchase of your new home. In New York, buyers of real estate typically retain a real estate lawyer when they buy a home, especially first time home-buyers. In New Jersey, the practice differs depending where the property is located. There is no law in either jurisdiction that says you must hire a real estate lawyer, but it is probably a good idea to get a real estate lawyer before you enter into a contract of sale.
If you are purchasing a home for the first time and have no experience with real estate transactions why take the chance you might miss something? After all, you are about to make a serious financial commitment, make sure sure the purchase of your new home does not come with major problems.
With our flat fee legal services there are no hidden hourly fees so you can budget appropriately and still receive quality legal representation. Peace of mind is truly priceless.
Q: What should I expect as a buyer of real estate during the real estate transaction process?
A: Once a seller accepts your offer, make sure not to commit anything in writing before you speak to your real estate attorney. After the seller's attorney sends the initial contract of sale, your attorney reviews it and confirms whether it reflects the terms of your agreement.
Prior to or during this time have a professional conduct a home inspection of the property that you want to buy. If there are any repairs or issues with the property pass this information on to your attorney to request repairs be made before closing, or use it as leverage to negotiate a change in purchase price.
Assuming you agree on which repairs the seller must make or to lower the purchase price, and other terms have been successfully negotiated, a real estate contract is signed by both parties. Then a title search is ordered, you obtain financing or provide proof of funds if it is an all cash deal, and get Board approval (coop), or handle any requested legal formalities (condo).
When all conditions of the transaction have been met and the title report comes back with no issues, a real estate closing date is set. At the real estate closing all final documents are signed, you or your bank attorney tender certified payment to the seller, and you receive keys to your new home. Immediately after closing you inspect your property to make sure it is "vacant" and in "broom swept" condition and that nothing has changed since your final walk-through.
Q: Are there additional costs that I should plan for besides legal fees?
A: Yes, as a buyer you will have third party costs that you are responsible for. Typically, you need to plan for title search and/or insurance costs, home inspector or engineers to inspect the property, certain taxes due at closing, mortgage fees if not paying all cash, appraiser and the possibility that there may be additional legal fees or other third party services you need.
Q: Will you provide legal advice for what type of rental agreement I need?
A: Yes, as part of our services we not only draft or review a legal document, but also identify which rental agreement you need. We also explain any legal issues we might discover with your rental situation so that you are aware of your legal rights as a landlord, tenant or subtenant.
Q: Besides a rental agreement, I need advice on a landlord-tenant situation, can you help me?
A: Yes. We offer flat fee legal consultations on landlord-tenant questions. You submit your legal question and factual scenario, then from the information you provide we generate a legal opinion based on relevant law.
The flat fee we quote will depend on the complexity of your legal issue. We schedule a phone or video call and provide you an answer or for an extra fee draft a written legal opinion.
Please be aware that our legal opinion will not necessarily give you a clear cut answer. This is the risk of litigation when both sides have a valid claim. An actual judicial decision can go either way depending on the facts, law, venue, behavior in court, presiding judge, etc. We do our best to present both sides of the argument based on material facts and law, but cannot guarantee an actual outcome.
Q: Do you provide landlord-tenant representation in Housing Court?
A: Unfortunately at this time we do not. We are currently working on developing this practice area and look forward to providing landlord-tenant legal services in the near future. Please check back frequently to see the new practice areas that we add.
Q: Can I use your legal services for any property transfer?
A: Yes, you can use our property deed transfer services for any residential property transfer within New York or New Jersey with a few exceptions. Our services include property transfers for an exchange of money and those without, or real property transfers part of a business sale or trust formation.
If you are unsure whether your property qualifies or are having trouble identifying the property, contact us to see how we can help. Depending on your situation, this service may be bundled with other legal services we offer.
Q: Does a deed transfer satisfy issues with title or any associated encumbrances?
A: No. Unless you take actual steps to satisfy or release encumbrances that cloud your title you will not have marketable title even with a valid deed transfer.
Remember, most issues with title carry over regardless the person or entity that owns it. It is important to remove title issues prior to a property transfer, or else be prepared to inherit these problems as your own. If you need to resolve issues with your deed prior to transfer, our lawyers may be able to help.
Q: Will you provide advice on which deed to use in my property transfer?
A: Yes, our lawyers will identify which deed to use for your property transfer from the information you provide in our intake questionnaire. Should any information you provide need clarification we will follow up with additional questions.
We then advise you on the type of property deed that works best for your legal situation. It is ultimately your choice to follow our recommendation, or you can simply instruct us on the type of deed you want. Finally, we file your deed paperwork with the appropriate recording office on your behalf.
Q: Are you my lawyer that handles negotiations with the bank or lender?
A: No, we do not handle actual negotiations of the terms of your mortgage commitment or loan. Although we would very much like to, we understand that when a person needs money to purchase a home they usually have little to no choice. They either agree to the loan or refuse to take it outright.
Most lenders will not alter their terms of a loan for a single residential purchase by an individual seeking to be a homeowner. The reality is that these documents have been drafted with meticulous precision by a team of lawyers to protect the lender's interests and your business is not serious enough to warrant a contract modification.
If we thought it could make a difference, we would zealously negotiate on your behalf, but it's usually a take it or leave it situation. Keep your hard earned money and find a better financing deal if possible.
Q: If you don't handle negotiations, what do you do?
A: We provide an explanation of the documents that you will eventually sign with your lender to finance your home purchase. These documents are complicated and may contain words or legal concepts that you are unfamiliar with. There is no shame in this, but to sign a long-term loan commitment you do not fully understand defies common sense. Basically, we simplify the loan document you are about to sign so you better understand it and can make an informed decision. We also advise you on your legal rights and risks, and answer any questions you may have.
Q: English is not my first language, do you provide an explanation in a foreign language?
A: Yes, once we have reviewed your loan documents and prepared an explanation in plain English we can have this written explanation translated in a language of your choice for a small fee.
Q: Can I use my real estate lawyer as a Qualified Intermediary for my 1031 exchange?
A: No! It is important that you do not use your real estate attorney to qualify for 1031 exchange deferred tax treatment. This means that your real estate lawyer should never have control of the proceeds from the sale of your property. Neither should you nor any agent that represents you.
When you use a third party attorney that does not represent you in a real estate transaction it ensures that you have obtained a qualified escrow agent. In order to qualify for 1031 exchange tax deferred treatment it is important that the sale proceeds be kept out of your control.
You cannot have the right to receive, pledge, borrow, or obtain benefit from the sale proceeds. A qualified escrow attorney acting as a qualified intermediary will accomplish this.
Q: Do you provide 1031 exchange tax advice?
A: No, we do not provide tax advice as we are not accountants. We give you the courtesy of letting you know the 45 day replacement property identification date and the 180 day replacement property closing date, but all tax questions should be directed to an accountant or tax professional.
Q: What does an escrow attorney do?
A: An escrow attorney holds funds in a separate bank account until all terms and conditions of an agreement are met. Once both parties acknowledge and/or an escrow agreement instructs for the release of funds, an escrow attorney disperses proceeds that have been held in escrow as instructed by the escrow agreement.
This way a legal safeguard exists where neither party's lawyer controls the funds, but rather a neutral, third party attorney is responsible for the distribution of funds based on specific contractual or legal conditions being met.
Q: Can I bundle business legal services together for a bulk discount?
A: Yes you can, we offer bundled business legal services, ongoing monthly, quarterly or yearly plans, and the option to consult with a small business lawyer when you need business legal advice. You can also bundle other legal services such as trademark and copyright, or escrow attorney services if you want. Just ask us how we can help you achieve your business legal needs.
Q: Can you represent me in commercial litigation?
A: At the present our flat fee model applies to transactional matters only. Litigation services are available for an hourly rate and not covered by this legal flat fees website. Contact us directly to learn about our hourly litigation rates. We can provide you with a legal opinion on a business issue if you like, but we do not represent clients in court at this time for a flat fee.
The flat fee we quote for a legal opinion will depend on the complexity of your legal issue. We schedule a phone or video call and provide you an answer, or for an extra fee draft a written legal opinion.
Also, please be aware that our legal opinion will not necessarily give you a clear cut answer. This is the risk of litigation when both sides have a valid claim. An actual judicial decision can go either way depending on the facts, law, venue, behavior in court, presiding judge, etc. We do our best to present both sides of the argument based on material facts and laws, but cannot guarantee an actual outcome under any circumstances.
Q: Will I work with the same lawyer each time?
A: If you select an all-inclusive service or ongoing legal plan, then we make every effort to ensure you work with the same attorney each time. This means that he or she will be your point of contact whenever possible. Even if your assigned attorney is unavailable, they will review your file with the substitute attorney and follow up to make sure you are satisfied.
Of course people relocate, change careers or employers, but we do make a conscious effort to nurture a long-term business relationships by assigning you the same lawyer each time if satisfied with them.
Q: Do you draft any type of will or trust, or is there a limit?
A: We will draft a last will and testament or trust specific to your legal needs, but there are limitations. We do have an estate value limit and do not draft complex estate planning documents if a certified public accountant advises us not to.
Complex estates require tax support that we currently offer only when a certified public accountant is involved, hence we typically do not handle complicated estate planning matters without such a team member. Complex estate planning usually requires an additional fee. This applies to both wills and trusts.
We welcome your inquiries and as we continue to develop our legal services we will continue to grow, but for now we maintain an estate value limit and deliver complex estate planning documents at our discretion only.
Q: Can I choose your law firm to be an Executor or Trustee?
A: At the present we do not accept offers to be an executor of a last will and testament, or trustee of a trust. We will offer the opportunity to be your executor or trustee in the near future. Please check back with us if you still need these legal services.
Q: Do you offer additional services such as disinterested witness signing or estate administration?
A: No, at this time we do not offer additional services besides the drafting of your estate plan documents. We do provide you with step-by- step instructions to help you make your last will valid in New York or New Jersey. We also do not provide estate administration services at this time, only estate planning legal services.
However, we do provide a bundle discount if you need more than one estate planning document. Please visit our fees page to learn more.
Q: What is the difference between a trademark and copyright?
A: The difference between a trademark and copyright is that a copyright protects your creation of original work while a trademark has more to do with protecting your business or brand than creativity.
When you file a copyright application with the federal government you protect an expression of an idea that is in a fixed form such as a book, recorded song or photograph. Although you do have rights to your original work once you create it, officially filing a copyright application gives you additional legal protection.
Similarly, when you sell a service or product you have some rights, however offcially registering a business or brand name, logo or slogan with the government gives you nationwide protection of your mark and exclusive rights. The idea behind a trademark is to let the public recognize and associate your mark with a service or product to create brand loyalty or other business benefits. When you file a trademark with the government it helps stop others from selling goods or services with similar marks.
Q: Do you offer a discount for combined trademark and copyright services?
A: Yes, if you need to register your trademark and file a copyright application, we offer a bundle discount for combined services. These services do have to be purchased together, and you can include other legal services that you need as well. In fact, most of our legal services have discounts when you choose more than one. Please visit our fees page to learn more about our pricing options and current discounts.
Q: Can you represent me in a trademark or copyright infringement matter?
A: No, at this time we do not offer any litigation services. Litigation typically requires hourly fees and we have not yet developed a flat fee legal model that incorporates litigation services. We are however working on it and plan to offer these services in the near future. Please check back with us at a later time as we develop our flat law fee business model to include additional legal services.
We can, however, provide you with a legal opinion on your infringement issue. This way you can assess your legal situation without necessarily committing to a lawsuit.
The flat fee we quote for a legal opinion will depend on the complexity of your legal issue. We schedule a phone or video call and provide you an answer or for an extra fee draft a written legal opinion.
Also, please be aware that our legal opinion will not necessarily give you a clear cut answer. This is the risk of litigation when both sides have a valid claim. An actual judicial decision can go either way depending on the facts, law, venue, behavior in court, presiding judge, etc. We do our best to present both sides of the argument based on material facts and laws, but cannot guarantee an actual outcome.