This is the continuation of my interview with James Striar, a real estate attorney that specializes in wills, estates and trusts.
Brian: What things do you usually see that might be left out of a will or do you ever see any cases where a will was maybe prepared by someone other than yourself, that doesn’t specialize in this area of practice, and maybe leads to issues later? James: A couple of things, one is that somebody may forget to name a specific bank account if they wanted to go to one particular person and obviously that account doesn’t already have a designated beneficiary on it. Probably the wills that I see that haven’t been necessarily prepared by an attorney are the online wills. It could be legal zoom, a variety of different online platforms that are fairly generic. They definitely fit for certain situations where it’s a very basic will but sometimes they can lead to more issues or possibility of a will contest if they haven’t been comprehensibly completed. Also, the execution of the will under New York state law, the will has to be witnessed by two people. There’s a very specific protocol that has to be met in order for the will to be probatable in Surrogate’s Court after the person passes away.
Brian: Interesting. Just as an aside, how often do you see people that come to you and they’re coming to probate an estate and there was no will.
James: I see that a lot. It’s probably more often that there is not a will than there is a will. In New York state if there is a will, you go through the process which is called probate. If there is no will then the person is deemed to have passed away intestate and you go through a very similar process but it’s called administration. In that case, one family member, and there’s a sort of priority. It goes, the assets will pass to the spouse. If there’s children and a spouse it goes 50 percent to the spouse, 50% to the children. If there’s no spouse and no children it goes to the parents. If no parents then it goes to the siblings. If there’s siblings, or nieces and nephews of predeceased siblings, so there’s a whole family tree priority that you have to go through. In different situations, you have to get what’s called jurisdiction over all of the interested parties who may be participating in the estate. I’ve had estates where there’s no will so we go to administration and there’s 28 cousins. We have to get jurisdiction, meaning, serve all 28 people with what’s called a court citation to even begin the process of administering the estate just to get somebody appointed. That could become quite a lengthy proceeding. Sometimes you have family that’s overseas, international, so you have to then get jurisdiction over them. In an ideal world, having a will that lays out who you want your assets to go to, how you want them to go, and who’s gonna be the person that you’re appointing in charge of the estate would be the ideal situation.
Brian Silvestry is a licensed real estate broker working in NYC since 1999. You can find him on all social media channels.
Last week, I had an interview with James Striar who is a real estate attorney specializing in wills, estates and trusts. Here is part 1 of his interview.
Brian: Maybe you can just give us a little information as to what should be included in a will or what things that you normally see that are often missing in a will?
James: Sure. A lot of times people delay making a will for a variety of reasons but eventually, hopefully, they get around to it whatever stage in life that you’re at – whether you’re single, you’re getting married, having children. As far as the will itself, obviously you want to have a very clear idea of how you want your assets to go, who you want them to go to. Obviously, most of the time it’s spouse to spouse. Then if not then to the children or some combination of. Everybody’s situation is different in whatever stage in life they’re at. You wanna be as clear as possible. Think it out as well as possible whether you’re speaking to your attorney, your spouse. You’re going to have to name an executor – the person who you’re putting in charge of handling the estate. Generally, that person is gonna be somebody that you trust. Most of the times it’s a spouse. If there is no spouse, a sibling. Somebody who is of similar age or possibly even a little younger depending on the age of the person making the will. Generally, you don’t necessarily want to have somebody much older than you be the executor for just age reasons- lifespan. You’re gonna want to name an alternate executor as well just in case the person that you appoint isn’t around or isn’t able to serve as the fiduciary. Some people wanna have co-executors. Maybe they have a brother and sister and they don’t want to choose or maybe choose one over the other. Maybe one sibling lives far away and the other lives close. There might be practical reasons to only chose one over both but often times, for sentimental reasons or not wanting to hurt somebody’s feelings, people would choose co-executors. There’s pros and cons to each of those. Once you’ve allocated who you want your assets to go to, how much to each party or person, some people obviously give to charities or foundations, you wanna have your executor. If there’s anything specific whether it’s a piece of property i.e. real estate, whether it’s a particular brokerage account or bank account, or jewelry, that’s gonna be laid out in the will specifically so there’s no confusion or there’s no arguing after the fact.
Brian Silvestry, is a licensed real estate broker since 1999. You can find him on social media on facebook, instagram,twitter and youtube.
Picking up on the market conversation and likely scenarios that we will see in the real estate market once the economy opens up…
I do not think that we will see the same thing in the same respect as we saw during the financial crisis. Right now, I am seeing people that are contacting me, investors who are contacting me, and asking about property that’s for sale. There are buyers who have purchased already from me and they are looking for property for friends. We are able to go out there and some of these people are out there actually already looking at property in the sense of virtually, so to speak.As a matter of fact, the other day, we even had an offer on a property.
Closings for properties that were already in the pipeline from before the pandemic are continuing. We have virtual closings. I had a property that we were in contract or setting up the closing. The attorney mailed the documents to the seller. He sat in his car, in the driveway of the seller’s house, and waited for them to sign it. Then retrieved it from the mailbox probably with gloves and mask and everything. Then they got those documents brought over to the buyer’s attorney. The buyer’s attorney or their assistant met in a separate room with the buyer. That’s how (one of the ways) the closings are happening these days.
What can we see or what can we reasonably expect going forward in the real estate market, as the economy starts to re-open in different phases? I think that just like everyone else, its going slowly start to happen that the market starts to open. Real estate is phase 2 of the re-opening of the economy. I think that over the next few months or year, the only people really that are gonna be selling property are people that really, really want to sell. I think that a lot of people will just decide to wait it out and not sell because the property values will be going down at least some percentage over the next few weeks, the next year or so. I can definitely see a buyer’s market assuming no second wave of the pandemic. Assuming the stock market doesn’t crash and break though thresholds the buyer market might be limited in duration to 12-24 months.
Definitely, opportunities will be there for people that have been sitting on the sidelines waiting with cash. I don’t think it’s going to be the same type of situation that we were dealing with at the time of the financial crisis. I think that we’ll see buyers be able to take advantage of some depreciation.
However, the X factor that could really fuel depreciation is fear and a destructive 2nd wave. If sellers flee the city, liquidating their properties because of the lack of restaurants, and fear of getting sick, this can hit harder than the financial crisis. Working against this force is very low interest rates and condos can be rented out so do not have to be sold. Co-ops normally choose people that are even more financially secure and these parties may be insulated more to an economic downturn.
Being that I am a real estate broker for the last 21 years working mostly in Manhattan and all over pretty much New York City, I am in unique position to comment on what we can expect potentially coming up as the economy opens up.
I have been through many ups and downs throughout the real estate market including 2001,the financial crisis, and now of course we are all going through this. I thought it would be interesting to give you some observations from my perspective, of someone that’s dealing with this on a day to day basis. For the last 16 years, I have handled foreclosed properties for banks. Just prior to the financial crisis hit, I was evaluating a lot of properties for them. I saw the evaluations I was doing ramp up and then all of a sudden, the financial crisis hit and we got a lot of foreclosures in the market. So, I found myself, as well, selling a lot of those properties. When the pandemic was really hitting its height in early April, Real estate, a lot of people may not realize, was declared essential services. We were only allowed to work from home though and do virtual showings. So pretty much the same thing that a lot of other people are doing – working from home and doing our job as best as we can from there.
I am allowed to, as of now virtually show property. I can go there if it’s an empty property and I can do a face time with a potential buyer or client. We can do virtual tours or videos and of course through zoom meeting. Like many other people, we’re not allowed to do a face to face. We’re not sitting down and meeting with clients in person and we are not going physically to a property with a client.
What’s interesting about that is that the real estate industry usually lags behind most advanced technology but all of a sudden, we have virtual tours on practically all properties. All of a sudden, we have videos on most properties. You have that available now so a lot of positive innovations have come out of it. Once the financial crisis hit, we found ourselves with a lot of foreclosures. The market did take a step back and we saw longer times on the market if we talk about prime neighborhoods in Manhattan. We saw depreciation.
#JeffJacobsMusic started performing about 2 weeks right after the 7pm moment of appreciation for the healthcare heroes. He comes out and performs three to four favorites and then mixes in his own music. As a resident of the building directly across the street, it is a much needed and appreciated silver lining.