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Around the Web: How to Buy a Home

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Buying a home is challenging under even the best circumstances. However there are a few steps you can take to help reduce any unnecessary stress during the process. This article helps explain a few of the things you can do now to make your home-buying experience smoother down the road. 

First and foremost, you should decide if owning a home is the right choice for you and your lifestyle. Before you dive into owning a home, consider all of the pros and cons and take a good look at your finances and career outlook. How does your credit score look? Do you have enough cash to cover a down payment and closing costs? 

Next, it’s good to find out how much home you can afford and get pre-approved before you begin your house hunt. Getting a pre-approval letter also helps you in your bid for a home, as it shows sellers your funding is less likely to fall through. 

When you’re ready to make an offer on your dream home, you should be prepared to negotiate. Your real estate agent can help you navigate through the process if there is a bidding war or counter offer by the seller. 

When you’re ready to close, it’s important to choose a real estate attorney who can represent your best interests. If you’re looking for an experienced and professional closing attorney, call Rhodes Law Firm today. 

How Estate Planning Can Help Protect Personal and Commercial Properties

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estate planningIt is not uncommon to avoid the idea of end-of-life planning. We don’t exactly enjoy thinking about what will happen to our loved ones in the event of our death.

This is exactly why only about half of Americans have Wills. Even fewer have considered or executed proper estate planning.

Estate planning is a critical component of protecting your assets and ensuring the wellbeing of your loved ones. It protects your possessions and allows you to decide who will be your beneficiaries.

Estate planning also enables you to decide who will make financial and health-related decisions on your behalf.

Without thorough estate planning, you leave yourself and your family vulnerable. Leaving the fate of your assets up to chance is a reckless choice few would take if they understood the full consequences.

Whether you want to plan for your personal estate or for your commercial property investments – or both – you will find the answers to your estate planning questions here.

Personal Estate Planning Services

A thorough estate plan is the best way to ensure things go exactly the way you want them to after you’re gone. You can think of an estate plan as a legal set of instructions.

Providing these instructions won’t only give you peace of mind. It will reduce the pressure on your surviving loved ones. Learn more about the estate planning services that are most beneficial to you.

Wills and Trusts

The main foundation of every strong estate plan is a will or a trust. A will ensures that your property gets distributed in accordance with your personal wishes.

A trust is a legal relationship that both protects your assets and directs their use. While a will goes into effect after a death, a person can use a trust at any time in their life and after their death.

Trusts are a great way to prevent legal challenges and limit estate taxes. A trust can also be useful when planning a second marriage where either or both parties are bringing assets into the union.

Living Will

A living will is the end-of-life instructions you provide to your caregiver. These instructions explain what kinds of medical interventions you would and would not like to have.

A living will goes into effect when multiple medical professionals have diagnosed you with a terminal or irreversible health condition.

Beneficiary Designations

Some of your possessions and assets can transfer to beneficiaries outside of a will or trust. In these circumstances, it is beneficial to designate a beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary.

Failing to name a beneficiary can result in leaving the fate of your assets up to the court. It is unlikely the court will make the same decisions you would make when it comes to distributing your assets.

Guardianship Designations

Planning for and protecting your children is of the utmost importance when it comes to estate planning. Not all wills and trusts incorporate a guardianship clause. It is important not to overlook this designation.

In the event you do not incorporate a guardianship designation in your estate plan, the court will decide for you. This can mean a relative you didn’t choose gets guardianship of your children or they become wards of the state.

Durable Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a document that gives a designated agent the legal ability to act and make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so yourself.

These decisions can be related to finances, real estate, and other assets. Without a power of attorney, your loved ones will need to get a court order to make decisions on your behalf.

A durable power of attorney is an agreement that can be revoked when you want. This can be when you are physically able, mentally competent, or upon your death.


Probate is the legal process that recognizes a will and designates a person to serve as executor of the will. The executor administers the estate and makes sure the assets go to the designated beneficiaries.

Estate Planning Services for Commercial Properties

Those who own commercial real estate or investment properties require an estate plan that takes your investments into account. Failing to incorporate them into your estate can create business issues for your surviving family.

The best approach to estate planning that incorporates commercial and investment properties involves both a Willand/or a Revocable Trusts and the use of limited liability companies.

Revocable Living Trusts and Wills

A revocable living trust or will can be an effective tool for those who own real estate. They simultaneously provide continuity and flexibility in the management of assets.

Trusts are also advantageous because they provide privacy and enable you to avoid probate. Overall, having a revocable trust provides enhanced control in the event of death or incapacitation.

Limited Liability Companies

If you own real estate, it is in your best interest to hold those properties in a limited liability company. An LLC is a business entity that exists separately from its members, protecting them from personal liability.

An LLC is a valuable, effective way to protect your assets and plan your estate. With both a revocable trust and an LLC in place, you can rest easy knowing your assets and investments will remain in good hands.

Choosing a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney

Once you’ve decided on estate planning, it is important not to rush into selecting an attorney to hire. Not all attorneys are equally equipped to properly manage an estate.

Here are some relevant aspects you should take into consideration.


A qualified estate planning attorney should have years, if not decades, of experience. When you are researching lawyers, find out how long they have been practicing in the areas of probate, trusts, and estate planning law.

However, simply having experience with estate planning law is not enough. You would do well to find out what percentage of the attorney’s practice is devoted to probate, trusts, and estate planning.


In addition to experience, it is important to hire an attorney with whom you can work well. Aim to hire an attorney who is easy to talk to, who makes you feel comfortable, and who puts you at ease.

It’s a red flag if an attorney doesn’t appear knowledgeable about or interested in your specific situation. It’s also a bad sign if the attorney makes you feel confused and fails to articulate the law in a way you understand.

Estate Planning Costs

The cost of planning an estate can range from a couple of hundred dollars for a basic plan to thousands of dollars for a comprehensive plan. The cost of planning your estate will depend on your needs and your lawyer’s fees.

Find out upfront whether your estate planning attorney charges an hourly rate or a flat fee, and whether they require a retainer. It’s also important to have your attorney provide a written fee agreement.

Learn More About Estate Planning

Estate planning is an essential step in preparing for and protecting your assets and loved ones in the event of your death. You’ve spent your life working for and acquiring these assets – why leave their fate up to chance?

To learn more about the process of estate planning, consult a qualified estate planning attorney.

Around the Web: What to Know Before Closing on Your New Home

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Buying a home can be stressful and exciting. From getting pre-approved by your lender to closing on your new home, it can be difficult to know what to expect if you aren’t familiar with the entire process. This article helps clarify the home buying process and helps prepare you for what you can expect. 

How long does the process take?

From the time you submit your mortgage application to the time you sign the dotted line, it can take about 30-45 days. Lenders now are able to gather your data, documents, and signatures electronically, allowing the process to move more quickly. 

What happens at the closing?

You will carefully review and sign all of the various legal documents that will ultimately issue your mortgage and transfer the ownership of property to you. You will need to bring your driver’s license, or other form of identification, your closing disclosure, and a cashier’s check or wire transfer receipt for the funds you owe. There may be other items you’ll need to bring with you, so check with your closing attorney prior to the meeting. 

What fees will I owe at closing?

There are a number of payments you will be expected to make at closing. From the lender origination fee, a prorated portion of property taxes, interest that will accrue before your first payment, and a few others. 

If you would like to know more about the home buying process, contact Rhodes Law Firm. We proudly offer real estate closings as one of our services, and we would love to answer any questions you may have. 

Six Things You Should Know About Real Estate Law

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real estate lawThe housing market is hot and people are buying and selling in a frenzy. What do you need to know about real estate law for your home or properties? This is important when dealing with things like antitrust laws real estate issues.

Real estate firms can help you find and buy a house, but they may not be up to date with the law. Read on to find out six important things to keep in mind about real estate law.

1. Real Estate Law Changes

Just like decorators change the style of a house, lawmakers can change real estate laws. This is why a real estate law attorney can help you make sense of changes as they happen.

Real estate investors used to be able to take unlimited rental losses against their ordinary income. This was limited recently to only $250,000 in losses for an individual in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.

This was a major hit for real estate investors. These types of changes can happen with federal laws, state laws, and local laws. You want to make sure to have a real estate lawyer who keeps up with all of these changes for you.

2. Real Estate is Often the Biggest Part of Estate Planning

For most people, their real estate holdings are the biggest part of their full estate. This means how you do your estate planning has a lot to do with real estate law.

Passing your property to your loved ones and making sure it doesn’t become a burden for them with taxes is an intricate process. You want to make sure that your estate is up to date and current with local and federal laws.

Changes in capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes can seriously affect your ability to pass on real estate. The recent step-up basis change if implemented would have serious consequences on your heir’s real estate tax liabilities.

Staying current with the laws helps your property to be a blessing to your loved ones and not a negative financial consequence.

3. Rental Properties Have Different Rules and Requirements

Rental properties have many different rules specific to them. As a homeowner, you want to be aware of what you can and cannot do with your rental property, as well as when you should do things to your property.

Things like depreciation and capital improvements have different requirements for reporting on your taxes. These affect when you should make major improvements and when to put your property on the market.

How you take care of maintenance expenses and keep up with them is also an important part of rental ownership. You want to be aware of the latest laws and how they affect your rental property improvements.

4. Different States Have Different Laws

Whether you have rental property or own multiple homes in different states, understand that the laws affecting your property are different in each state. You may know your local laws well, but that doesn’t help you in another state.

Texas has a proposal up for voting to change their homestead exemption. New York recently passed a property tax relief credit to benefit homeowners with high property taxes.

These are just a few examples of how different states can make changes each year. Real estate contract law can differ in each state so you want an expert to make sure you are in compliance with your properties.

5. Life Events Can Affect Your Real Estate Legal Needs

Major life events like a marriage or the death of a spouse can bring up some issues with your real estate holdings. How names are listed on titles and the current laws of the state all factor in on what happens to property

Taking the time to review your real estate documents can help prepare you for any changes you may go through. A legal expert can assist you in making sure your titles are set up properly.

They can also prepare your real estate documents for changes ahead of time. This will help you be able to relax and not worry about your property if there is a major life change.

6. Agents Are Not Legal Experts

Real estate agents are incredibly knowledgeable about many things but they may not have a full grasp of real estate law. You will want to make sure you understand the law yourself.

Agents will represent their clients based on the law of agency real estate, but that client may not be you. You want to make sure someone is keeping up with your interests in every real estate transaction.

Getting advice from an agent is great, but it may or may not fit with the legal side of your state or local ordinances. You will want to find a real estate lawyer who looks out for your interests and the interests of your estate.

A Real Estate Law Partner

There are many different changes and aspects of real estate law to keep up with. Most people do not have the time or the knowledge to stay up to date with the legal changes in the market.

This is why you want to have an expert who partners with you and focuses on real estate law for you. At Rhodes Law Firm, our real estate lawyers stay up to date with current laws and possible changes that are coming.

Contact us and let us help you make sure all of your real estate documents are up to date. We can also help you plan for future real estate transactions and take care of estate planning with real estate law in mind.

Around the Web: Don’t Forget to Make a Digital Will

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In today’s digital age, most people have numerous online accounts and subscriptions. From social media and streaming services to bank accounts and apps, it can be overwhelming. So what happens when we pass away? It’s important to consider what your family members may need to know in order to access or delete accounts as needed. This Kiplinger article addresses the steps you can take now to prevent any unnecessary confusion or frustration for your family members after your passing. 

  1. Keep a list of all your logins for online accounts. From your Facebook and Amazon accounts to your frequent flier login, it’s important there is a record of all your accounts and your heirs are able to access them.
  2. What do you wish to be done with your accounts after your passing? Whether you want it closed, saved, or otherwise, it is very helpful to notate these wishes in your list of accounts.
  3. Make sure someone whom you trust is named as online executor of your digital will. Put all of these wishes into writing to make it official. An attorney can help you with the proper language. 

If you need assistance with your digital will, Rhodes Law Firm is happy to help. Give us a call today! 

Top 7 Factors to Consider When Choosing Estate Planning Lawyers

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choosing estate planning lawyersIn the United States, only 16% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 have a will or another type of estate planning document. One reason why people are less likely to have a will is that they do not know where to start.

Something that can make estate planning a simple process is hiring an estate planning lawyer.

Do you want help choosing estate planning lawyers in your area? Keep reading this article for the top seven factors you should consider before you hire an attorney for your estate planning.

1. How Long Has the Attorney Been Practicing in the Areas of Probate, Trusts, & Estate Planning?

The most important factor to consider when hiring an estate planning lawyer is their estate planning experience. Make sure you ask each potential attorney how long they have been practicing law.

Not only do you want to make sure they have plenty of experience in law, but you also need to learn how long they have been practicing in the specific areas of law, including probate, trusts, and estate planning.

When an estate planning lawyer has more experience, you are more likely to get high-quality service.

2.  What Percentage of the Practice Is Devoted to This Area of Law

Another important factor to consider when choosing a durable power of attorney is what percent of their practice is devoted to estate planning, trusts, and probate. Even if your lawyer has technically been practicing in these areas for years, they may not have many resources devoted to these areas of law.

If your attorney has not worked on estate planning in recent months, they may not be up-to-date on the current laws and requirements.

Make sure the attorney is up-to-date with estate planning so that you get the help you deserve.

3. Is the Attorney Friendly and Easy to Talk To?

Because there are so many options for lawyers, you must find one that is friendly and easy to talk to. While this isn’t the only thing you should take into consideration, it is important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer.

This way, you can trust that they will give you the time and resources that you need. Plus, you will be more comfortable asking your attorney questions and you will not have to deal with an attorney that is too blunt or unkind.

Often, you can learn more about a lawyer’s personality and customer service by researching their references and reviews.

4. How Much Will Your Estate Plan Cost

While cost is not the most important factor to consider when you hire a lawyer, you should still start by comparing lawyer fees before you choose an attorney. You should learn how your attorney charges their clients, whether it is an hourly rate or a flat rate.

While you are considering your attorney’s fees, you should learn whether or not they require a retainer for their services. A retainer is an upfront fee that you must pay to your lawyer before they begin working.

This shows that you are financially able to hire your lawyer but may make it financially difficult if you have to pay upfront. Comparing these costs before you hire your attorney will help you find an attorney that meets your budget.

5. Is the Attorney Knowledgeable and Interested in Your Situation?

To make sure your attorney is on the same page, you should make sure you hire an attorney that is knowledgeable and interested in your situation. For example, if you are remarried and creating your will, you may want to find a lawyer that specializes in 2nd marriages.

If you have any other factors that will make your estate planning process more complicated, you should hire a lawyer that specializes in your type of situation to make sure you are taken care of.

6. Is the Attorney Understandable and Able to Clearly Explain the Law?

The estate planning process can be quite complicated. If you have an attorney that only speaks in legal jargon, it is difficult to know exactly what you are getting from their services.

Instead, you need to hire an attorney that is easy to understand and can clearly explain the different areas of law. This will also confirm that your lawyer knows what the current laws are surrounding estate planning, so you will not have to make changes to your estate in the future.

To make sure your attorney is a good communicator, you can see if they offer consultations before you hire them. Having a conversation with a potential attorney will also help you see whether or not their personality is a good match for your own.

7. Does the Attorney Provide a Written Fee Agreement?

Finally, you must make sure your lawyer provides a written fee agreement. This is a legal document that is necessary when you are working with an attorney, even if you think your case is simple.

This contract will tell you exactly the fees and compensation that you will owe, what work will be done, and more.

Having a written fee agreement will prevent disputes between you and your attorney over money and will make sure you are both on the same page.

Need Help Choosing Estate Planning Lawyers?

Estate planning is essential for planning for and protecting your children, your assets, and everything else you have. Hiring the best estate planning lawyer will put your asset in the best hands.

By following each of these tips, you can get help choosing estate planning lawyers in your area. Do you need help planning for your wills and trusts in Georgia or South Carolina? Rhodes Law Firm can help!

Contact our team today for more information about our estate planning services and to meet with our estate planning experts.

Around the Web: When to Update your Estate Plan

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As your life changes, your will should as well. Whether you are having your first child or considering divorce, you should always reconsider your estate plan when a big life event emerges. This Kiplinger article addresses just a few of the many possible circumstances that may prompt a change in your last will and testament. 

Your child is getting married

If your child is getting married, it may be time to consider taking another look at your will. It could be time to update it from addressing issues that applied when your child was a minor, to now addressing issues that may arise should your child ever be divorced. It’s recommended that you create these adjustments after your child is officially married, as to avoid any complications should the wedding not happen or you pass away before the marriage. 

Your beneficiaries pass away

If you named someone to manage your estate or to receive any funds and they pass away, you may need to change your will. It is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in place in the event your beneficiary passes away.

You are having your first child

This is the most common time to make your first will is when you have a child. The main purpose for this will is to name a guardian and a trustee if you have one created for your child. It’s probably easier to tackle this before the child is born, when you aren’t too overwhelmed or sleep deprived. 

Life is unpredictable. There are so many reasons you may need to revisit your will. If you need help creating or adjusting your estate plan, contact the team at Rhodes Law Firm today! 

What You Need To Know About Preparing for Long Term Care Options

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long term care optionsAs we get older, we’ve got to start thinking long-term about the care we will need. It’s a fact of life that each of us at some point will need a bit more help doing things we used to do on our own like cooking and getting from place to place.

Before you reach that phase in your life, it’s essential to start thinking about your long-term care options today and start making plans.

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care is care provided to people who can no longer perform specific tasks themselves without help. The focus of long-term care is to help those in need maintain their current lifestyle and independence at any age.

The services provided to you will be specifically designed to meet your needs in the long and short term. For example, if you’re rehabbing an injury, you might only need care services for a short period of time.

However, if you’re living with Alzheimer’s or are getting older in age and have health issues, you might consider using long-term care services to help you in your daily life. Long-term care can take place in several settings, including:

Each setting has its own requirements and level of care provided to the residents that live there. For example, an adult day center is where adults who require supervision will stay during the day and return to their homes at night.

A nursing home is where someone needs 24/7 supervision can remain independent and have help from staff with things like remembering to take their medication and getting to and from doctors’ appointments.

With that being said, here’s how to prepare for long-term care.

Start Early

While it’s never too late to create a long-term care plan for your future, there earlier you start planning, the better off you’ll be. Life changes as you get older; you might have children, grandchildren, or acquire more assets.

It’s essential to consider these factors in your plans for the future. When you fail to plan, it could lead to future issues when you need to maintain a specific standard of living or help provide support to people in your life that need it.

As you begin to plan early, it’s essential to find the right legal team to help you get your affairs in order. An attorney can help you create a will that will detail how your assets will be dispersed upon your passing.

Doing this reduces the chances of problems occurring, and the attorney can enforce the will and your wishes.

Consider How to Pay for Long-Term Care

Long-term care can become expensive, especially if you don’t have the funds needed to cover the services you need. We recommend considering a long-term care insurance policy to cover your living expenses as you get older.

There are some forms of insurance such as Medicare that won’t provide full coverage. If you choose Medicare or Medicaid, your attorney can detail the requirements to apply for coverage.

Keep in mind with this form of coverage, applications are reviewed on a case by case basis, and even if you meet the initial requirements to apply, it doesn’t mean you’ll be approved for the coverage.

It’s essential to contact your insurance provider when you’re applying for your long-term care insurance policy and ask questions about what’s covered.

Doing this reduces the chances of being surprised if there is a portion of your services that aren’t covered by the insurance policy. Keep in mind long-term care will take a mixture of your insurance and out-of-pocket costs.

Again, your attorney can help you decide how much money needs to be set aside for the future by estimating how much your living costs will be.

Keep Your Family in Mind

We’ve mentioned before you need to think about your family as you move forward with long-term care planning. The reason for this is that often the weight of caring for you as you age will fall on the shoulders of your children and grandchildren.

There are several things to think about, including:

How does caring for you impact your family member financially? Will they have to take time off work to care for you?

Are there expenses you have that will be left up to your family member to pay? If the answers to any of these questions are a yes, you need to think about setting aside money to help them take care of you financially.

However, keep in mind your needs may change, increasing or decreasing the amount of money to be used for your long-term care. If things become too much for your family member, it may be time to start looking into some of the different care options we suggested above, such as a senior living community or nursing home.

Long-Term Care Options: Everything You Need to Know

There are several things you need to know when it comes to long-term care options, with the first being that starting to plan early makes a world of difference. It’s essential to work with an attorney to create a plan that will determine what happens to your assets and money when you begin to need a bit more help.

If you’re still seeking an attorney that is an expert in the field of long-term care planning and more, contact Rhodes Law Firm LLC. With our experience, you won’t have to leave anything up to chance.

Around the Web: Talking Money with your Parents

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As the holiday season quickly approaches, it may be useful to consider the upcoming quality time spent with your family as an opportunity to discuss any important financial issues. This may include estate planning, long-term care plans, or anything else you may be curious about. These are often uncomfortable conversations, and sometimes can sour the atmosphere. Approaching this with a respectful attitude can help open the floor for discussion. 

This article lists some helpful steps for when it’s time to talk about finances with your parents.

  1. Adjust your attitude – Never approach this topic from a place of condescension or superiority over your parents. You are still their child, even though you may be transitioning into a new role in your family dynamic. Present some options to your parents as choices rather than telling them what to do.
  2. Focus on feelings – Approach the matter in a way that you think will work best for your parents. This may be an indirect approach to broaching the subject or bringing it up directly. Ask your parents what they are feeling about their financial situation and ask if they would like some help.
  3. Prepare to change the subject – This subject often can bring up feelings of anger, fear, or sadness. Your parents may feel embarrassed about their situation or worried, so it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and respect them.

If you would like to discuss financial or estate planning options, our team of professionals is here to help. Contact Rhodes Law Firm today.

Around the Web: Estate Planning for Pets: How to Protect Your Furry Friends

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They’re man’s best friend, so it’s only fitting that we make sure our pets are taken care of in the event of our passing. This article helps clarify the important steps in creating a Pet Trust for your furry friends. While it may be difficult to think about, there are a few common considerations to keep in mind when trying to create a plan. 

  • Any special care requirements (medications, health concerns, behavioral concerns)
  • Where you would like your pets to live (do you want them to remain at your home or go live with a friend or family member or sanctuary?)
  • What financial resources will you provide to ensure adequate care?

Each situation, and each pet, is different. It is important to think about who you will feel most comfortable taking care of your beloved animals, as well as how much money you can leave to help provide for their care. It is also vital to choose a trustee to manage the finances for your pets. 

This is just one small part of comprehensive estate planning. If you would like to learn more about creating a Pet Trust to ensure your family pet is taken care of, contact Rhodes Law Firm today.