The Legal Dos and Don’ts of Real Estate

A well-maintained house surrounded by greenery

Buying and owning property is mostly an exciting and fulfilling life experience. The only aspects of it that can feel dry and boring are the legal ones, which include everything from drawing up the initial deed to including it in your final will to be passed on after your death.

Of all the things you include in your estate plan—life insurance, bank accounts, jewelry, art/collectibles, investments, and furniture—the most important is your property, be it a residential house or a vacation home, or even a rental property. For your loved ones to enjoy these the same even after your death, you need to make sure all the legalities are in place.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while handling real estate:

DO: Place the Vacation Home in A Revocable Trust

If you want the next generation to truly enjoy the vacation home without carrying the baggage of legalities and responsibilities they didn’t exactly sign up for, placing it in a trust should help.

Firstly, it would escape lengthy probate. Secondly, you can specify exactly how you want the vacation home to be used and maintained during and after your life with a trust. And most importantly, with smart estate planning—we’re talking Qualified Personal Residence Trust, of course—you could also save estate tax significantly.

A vacation home near a lake

DON’T: Skip Out on A Will

Making a will may seem like a hassle, especially because it isn’t really necessary to pass down real estate. However, legal experts highly recommend it because it makes the whole process ever so easier.

Without a will, your property will still get passed on to your immediate heirs and relatives based on the law in your state, but in case you want a say in who ends up with what exactly, making a will is the only way to do it.

Through a will, you can keep the property from being split up, divide it the way you wish, or even pass it down to someone outside the family.

DO: Get A Property Lawyer on Board

From the moment you purchase the property to the time of your death, you need professional expertise on how to go about its legal paperwork in order to keep things streamlined.

There are many different kinds of deeds, and you may not know the ins and outs of each kind, so having a property lawyer to reviews and prepare the deed with you is a good step. Similarly, when you’re including your real estate in the estate plan, you need to have legal counsel to ensure that the property can pass on to your loved ones with minimal legal hurdles after your death.

So, if you’re in the process of creating an estate plan, get the experts on board.

We’re a real property law firm Queens, and our Estate lawyer Queens  can help make complicated legal procedures easier for you.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our legal services.

Why You Can’t Sleep on Estate Planning

A person working on some documents

If you ask a person what they want to be remembered for when they’re gone, they’re most likely to say something sentimental like the memories of their loved ones or the legacy they’re leaving behind in the form of their children or their life’s work. But let’s be real. Continue reading “Why You Can’t Sleep on Estate Planning”

3 Mistakes Made During Estate Planning

Whether you have a large estate or a modest one, as the owner, you must settle all of your affairs while you still have the ability to do so. There are various issues and common mistakes that people make when it comes to estate planning. This blog will go over some of the issues to watch out for: Continue reading “3 Mistakes Made During Estate Planning”

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Taxes

Estate taxes can balloon significantly, but certain techniques can always help you bring down the payable amount. These are within the legal parameters as well, so you can easily take them on without worrying. Here are some of the most commonly recommended ones: Continue reading “3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Taxes”

Protecting Yourself from Home Title Theft

Home title theft is a form of identity theft, and many people suffer from it every year. Scammers and thieves tend to keep an eye out for vacation homes, properties belonging to the deceased, and other vulnerable aspects of the home that they can exploit. Continue reading “Protecting Yourself from Home Title Theft”

Why Title to Real Estate Often Complicates Estate Administration in New York

When a loved one passes away, their estate will need to be managed. However, doing so successfully can become far more complex where titles to real estate exist. We take a closer look at why probate law in New York State can cause controversy among beneficiaries and how executors can go about closing an estate in NY properly.

Insufficient Asset Gathering

Many estate litigation cases have come about as the result of information coming to light regarding real estate ownership that executors or beneficiaries weren’t previously aware of. In these instances, thorough asset gathering would have helped avoid conflict.

It is the job of the executor to ensure that absolutely all of the deceased’s assets have been discovered, gathered, and kept in a safe place. This part of estate administration can require a lot of legwork and time.

However, in doing so, an executor can completely reduce or eliminate further complications. No longer will it be possible for family members to assume ownership of property because enough information has been gathered and secured properly.


Real estate ownership can exist in many forms. The deceased may have been the sole owner of the real estate in question or may have owned property with another. Ownership can also exist in shared form, such as joint tenancy of a property. Types of ownership, including joint tenancies, won’t result in any ownership being passed to beneficiaries.

While this can certainly result in confusion and controversy among estate beneficiaries, closer investigation into the type of ownership and the New York state beneficiary laws that govern them can help avoid unwanted surprises.


Real estate is a high-value item, which can also cause controversy. In a separation, for example, it will be important for the deceased to have stated their intent for the property clearly. Otherwise, an ex-spouse may assume they have full ownership when they do not. This kind of misunderstanding can result in much disappointment once the time comes to execute the will.

Of course, even before a loved one passes away, ensuring that both parties in the relationship have clearly discussed what will happen to real estate upon their deaths can provide the details an executor of estate in New York needs to fulfill their responsibilities.

Help with Estate Administration

Although it is the executor’s job to ensure a deceased loved one’s assets are properly identified, secured, and distributed, the amount of work involved can be overwhelming. It is in these cases that additional help can offer many benefits.

If you’re the executor of an estate, you can research probate law to discern whether or not you’ll need help to administrate the estate. If you’re finding the probate process difficult to navigate, contact the estate administration attorneys at Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. We put a combined 32 years of probate and estate administration experience to work for you. Call (718) 276-6656 for a consultation.