Read Answers to the Most Common Legal Questions We Get
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What will my closing costs be when I sell my house?
When clients are negotiating the sale of residential property, it is vital to understand prior to negotiations an esimation total closing costs will be. The closing cost figure will provide a baseline to figure out the net proceeds a client will realize after the sale.
In Connecticut, there are four or five primary sums paid by the Seller at closing, with one not being a true closing cost. They are:
Mortgage Payoff: This is the item which is not a true closing cost. This amount is the total you will owe the bank at closing. The total usually consists of your principal balance, a portion of your monthly payment due the first of the month following closing (you pay your mortgage in arrears meaning there will be interest due from the first of the month of closing through the payoff date), and any negative escrow balance. If you have a positive escrow balance it will either be credited against the payoff amount or returned to you approximately 30 days after the loan is paid in full.
- Brokerage Commissions: This is the amount you negotiated to pay in commission with your real estate agent. The commission is typically a percentage of the gross sales price.
- Conveyance Tax: This is the item which surprises most Sellers. The State of Connecticut and Town where the property sits are each entitled to a portion of the sales price as a conveyance tax. The State collects .75% of the first $800,000, 1.25% on all amounts between $800,000 and $2,500,000, and 2.25% on all amounts above $2,500,000. The Town typically receives .25% of the purcahse price, although certain cities in the State are entitled to, and do, charge higher rates. If you live in a larger municipality, you should check with your attorney to determine what the local conveyance tax rate is. The quick calculation for total conveyance tax in most towns, however, is, the total conveyance tax is 1% on all amounts up to $800,000 and 1.5% on all amounts over $800,000 up to $2,500,000 and 2.5% on all amounts above $2,500,000.
- Attorneys' Fees: This is the fee your attorney charges to represent you in the transaction. Fees vary throughout the State but I would be prepared to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for a typical transaction.
- Recording charges: This is the cost to record mortgage releases, powers of attorney, or any other documents on the land records necessary to convey clear title. This may vary from $0 to $250 depending on what needs to be recorded.
You can appreciate every transaction is different so all of the charges above may not necessarily apply or there may be other closing costs incurred, depending on the circumstances of the sale. You should not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the costs which would be incurred in your potential sale.
What Will My Closing Costs Be When Buying My New House?
One of the most important considerations for clients making an offer on a house is the cost of the transaction, over and above the purchase price of the property. While it is impossible to give detailed closing costs much before close, this article should serve as a fairly accurate estimate of what a typical buyer could expect in a transaction.
There are three primary categories of closing costs in a purchase, legal/title costs, bank costs, and “pre-paid” items (examples are: tax adjustments with the Seller, pre-paid interest, tax and insurance escrows). I’ll give an outline of what is included in each category and an estimate of what to expect.
This is the fee your lawyer charges you for representation in the transaction. Fees vary, but I would expect to pay somewhere in the range of $800-1,500 for legal fees, depending on the lawyer and specifics of the transaction.
Title Search Fees:
This is the fee for the title searcher to search the land records, building department, health department and other municipal agencies. The title search is usually ordered through your attorney and should run from $375-$400.
This is also usually procured through your attorney. If you are taking a mortgage, your bank will require you to purchase a lender’s title policy and virtually all buyer’s purchase an owner’s policy. Both policies are issued for a single premium based on the purchase price.
An estimate of the premiums for an enhanced title policy (which we recommend for virtually all clients) are:
One thing many Buyer’s do not realize is their attorney receives a portion of the title insurance premium for issuing the policies. The attorney’s commission does not change the cost of the policy as the title insurers are required to file their rates for approval with the state Insurance Commission and the filed rates are what must be charged.
These costs are determined by your lender but in most circumstances run around $1,500. The fees typically include an origination fee, credit report fee, flood certification fee, tax service fee, and appraisal fee. There also will be a recording fee (generally around $200) to record the closing documents on the land records of the Town where the property is.
This category includes your pre-paid interest on your mortgage, escrows, and seller adjustments and all vary depending upon what time of year you close, whether your bank is requiring escrows for taxes and insurance, and what day of the month you close. A quick guide:
Pre-paid interest is charged for the portion of the month between the day of closing and the end of the month. For example, if you close on the 10th of the month and the month has 31 days, you would be charged 21 days interest up front. You can calculate the amount by calculating the per day interest on your loan and multiplying by the number of days.
Taxes are typically adjusted between buyers and sellers as well as escrowed by the lender for future taxes. If taxes are paid semi-annually and being escrowed, you should plan on paying 9-10 months of taxes at closing. If taxes are paid quarterly and escrowed, I would plan 5-6 months.
If you have any questions regarding any of this information or would like a more detailed estimate of closing costs on a purchase of real estate, please do not hesitate to contact us!
What Can I Expect When Selling My House?
At Bayer & Black, P.C., we have represented thousands of sellers of real estate. Much of the stress of a real estate transaction comes from being uncertain as to what needs to be done and when. To that end, what follows is a listing of the major steps you can expect from now until closing. This is not meant to be entirely comprehensive and there may be more, or less, to do in your particular circumstance, but it should serve as a reliable guide going forward.
- Once the material terms (price, closing date, contingencies) are negotiated and agreed upon (and, in some circumstances memorialized in a “binder”), the buyer will arrange for a building inspection. Once building inspections are complete, there are typically further negotiations related to the building inspection. These negotiations will often result in you making repairs or giving a buyer a credit against the purchase price.
- After the inspection items are negotiated, a formal contract of sale will be executed, first by the buyer, and then by you, as seller. The buyer will pay the remaining deposit at the time the contract is delivered for your signature. The deposit is held in escrow by your attorney until closing. Contracts are often prepared and delivered to buyer’s attorney immediately so that preliminary negotiations on the contract can take place between attorneys while the inspections are being performed and negotiated. This keeps the process moving in a timely fashion.
- If the deal is contingent upon the buyer obtaining a mortgage, you should not undertake any significant obligations until the buyer’s mortgage contingency is released. Often, a buyer will not obtain a mortgage commitment by the date in the contract and will ask for an extension of the contingency. In that case, you would discuss with your attorney whether the extension should be granted. Until the contingency is lifted however, the buyer can terminate the contract without losing its deposit.
- Once you sign the contract, the buyer will order a title search and search of the various municipal departments (zoning, health, fire, etc.) The searches will be reviewed to ensure the seller can provide clean title and there are no municipal violations. If any items arise, which happens relatively infrequently, you will need to take action to correct the defects.
- After the financing contingency is lifted, you should make arrangements to be out of the property by the closing date.
- At or prior to closing, you will meet with your attorney to sign all the closing documentation.
- On the day of closing, the buyer will do a final walkthrough of the property to make sure everything is still working and there is no new damage. After the walkthrough, the actual closing will take place.
- Typically, at closing, your attorney will take in all the closing proceeds and write all necessary checks. The net proceeds will typically be transferred to you either one or two business days after the closing, depending on how early or late in the day the closing occurs.
You can appreciate this list is “big picture.” Each transaction has its nuances and particular issues. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call, and we will be happy to provide more information.
What Will Happen When I Am Buying A New Home?
Buying a home, particularly if it is your first purchase, is often an exciting, but stressful process. Most of the stress is due to uncertainty as to what is going to happen and what steps you should be taking. Hopefully, this article will take some of the mystery away. This is not meant to be entirely comprehensive and there may be more, or less, to do in your particular circumstance, but it should serve as a handy guide going forward.
- Once the material terms (price, closing date, contingencies) are negotiated and agreed on (and, in some circumstances memorialized in a “binder”), your first step will be to arrange for a building inspection. You should expect to have a general building inspection, as well as separate inspections of the septic system and well (which may be performed by the general building inspector) if the property is not served by public sewer and water. In addition to the building inspection, if the property is served by a well, a water test for radon, lead, uranium, arsenic and bacteria should be performed. Finally, a radon test of the air should be performed in most circumstances.
- Once building inspections are complete, there are typically further negotiations related to the building inspection. These negotiations will often result in a seller making repairs or giving a buyer a credit against the purchase price.
- After the inspection items are negotiated, a formal contract of sale will be executed, first by you, as buyer, and then by the seller. You will also be required to pay the remaining deposit at the time you sign the contract of sale. The deposit is held in escrow by seller’s attorney. Preliminary negotiations on the contract are often handled by the attorneys while the inspections are being performed and negotiated to keep the process moving in a timely fashion.
- If you are obtaining a mortgage, you should begin the process as soon as possible. Even before the contract is signed, you should begin the application process and being providing information to your mortgage broker or bank. Once the contract is signed, the bank will order an appraisal of the property and you should continue to provide the information requested by your lender. Once a commitment letter is issued, the commitment should be reviewed by your attorney and you should discuss any remaining conditions before releasing any financing contingencies.
- Once you sign the contract, your attorney will order a title search and search of the various municipal departments (zoning, health, fire, etc.) The searches will be reviewed to ensure the seller can provide clean title and there are no municipal violations.
- At the time your mortgage commitment is issued, you will need to obtain a binder for homeowner’s insurance. Your insurance agent will need certain information from the bank to comply with the loan terms.
- Approximately one week prior to closing, you should be provided with estimated closing figures. You should be prepared to transfer the closing funds 1-2 days prior to closing.
- On the day of closing, you should do a final walkthrough of the property to make sure everything is still working and there is no new damage. After the walkthrough, you will need to sign your mortgage documents and then the actual closing will take place.
You can appreciate this list is “big picture.” Each real estate transaction has its nuances and particular issues. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call, and we will be happy to provide more information.
What should I do if I'm involved in a motor vehicle accident?
Each year, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed on Connecticut roadways in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. These victims suffer serious injuries—some life threatening and others minor—but all types of cases can cause major emotional trauma and financial complications.
At Bayer & Black, P.C., we stand ready to provide aggressive representation to our clients to ensure they receive a favorable outcome. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need to contact our team right away.
Steps to Take After a Motor Vehicle Accident
- Make sure everyone is safe
- Stay at the scene
- Contact emergency services
- Never apologize or take the blame
- Exchange insurance info
- Ask for a copy of the police report
- Take pictures
- Get names and phone numbers of witnesses
- Contact an attorney to represent you
After a motor vehicle accident, the first thing you need to do is to ensure that all drivers and passengers are safe. DO NOT leave the scene. If medical attention is needed, immediately contact emergency services.
Make sure to retain the information of the drivers and passengers involved, but do not give away too much information and never apologize to or blame the other driver. When police arrive, speak with them and ask to receive a copy of the police report. If you can, take pictures of the scene and get witness names and phones numbers.
If you think you may have been at fault for the accident and the other person is injured, call us before you speak to the police. Before you contact either your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver, you need to retain an attorney to help protect you from incrimination. An attorney can make all the difference in your case and can help you receive the financial compensation that you deserve from the faulty driver.
We Can Help After a Traffic Accident
If you were involved in a car accident, truck accident, or other type of motor vehicle accident, it is important that you speak with Bayer & Black, P.C. right away. We will thoroughly review the entire accident and ensure that all details of the case were thoroughly examined. Our firm will help you determine liability and ensure that the wrongful driver is brought to justice for their negligence and wrongdoing. If your accident resulted in catastrophic injuries or a death, we will help you file all necessary claims.
Are you ready to move forward with your case and speak with an attorney regarding your situation? Contact Bayer & Black, P.C. right away and schedule a free case evaluation now.
Is the property owner liable for my slip and fall injuries?
If you were injured in a slip or fall accident while visiting someone else's private or commercial property, we urge you to contact Bayer & Black, P.C. We have over 40 years of combined experience, we offer free case evaluations and we accept cases on a contingency fee basis. With a former claims adjuster and insurance underwriter on our legal team, we are uniquely qualified to negotiate favorable settlements with insurance companies.
If you sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident, you may be wondering who is responsible for the accident. Every year, thousands of people are injured when they slip or trip on a wet floor, slippery stairs, ripped or torn carpeting, or on uneven cement. Often, the property owner is held liable for any injuries sustained on their property.
Specific Circumstances in Which a Property Owner Can Be Held Liable
While property owners aren't held responsible for every single accident; for example, something that any prudent person should have seen and avoided, they are responsible for maintaining their property and keeping it free from hazards. A property owner can be held liable for a slip or fall accident under the following circumstances:
- The property owner or an employee caused the slippery or dangerous surface.
- The owner or an employee must have been aware of the dangerous condition and did nothing to rectify it.
- The owner or an employee should have known about the dangerous condition because any reasonable person would have discovered the problem and taken care of it expeditiously.
Contact Us to Pursue Compensation for Your Injuries
Whether you were injured on a residential or commercial property, or on private land, we urge you to contact a Fairfield County personal injury lawyer from our firm. Slip and fall accidents are extremely common, and we are well-aware of the types of injuries and financial losses that they can cause. Let our firm help you pursue the full compensation that you deserve!
To find out how we can help you, contact our Fairfield County personal injury firm today to schedule your free consultation with a friendly member of our legal team!
What should I know about seeking a pardon in Connecticut?
If you are seeking a pardon in Connecticut, you probably have plenty of questions about pardons, your eligibility, and the entire process as a whole. Take a look at our frequently asked questions about Connecticut pardons page here for some helpful answers from professional Fairfield County criminal defense attorneys. You can also contact our team by calling 203-614-9734 or filling out a free online consultation form today for more information.
Your Top Questions About Pardons
- What is the difference between an expungement pardon and a provisional pardon? If you qualify for an expungement pardon, your conviction will be erased right off your criminal record after a certain number of years has passed – varies depending on severity of crime. A provision pardon leaves the conviction there but you may no longer be disqualified for employment based solely on your criminal record.
- When am I eligible for a pardon? As previously mentioned, several years need to pass before you can even be eligible for a pardon. Most misdemeanor convictions require 3 years while felonies require 5. With this stated, there is no deadline for applicants; you can apply whenever you like but keep in mind it may take some time to process (up to an entire year) so you should apply as soon as you can. There are also only 8 full hearings each year, so time is truly limited.
- What convictions are on my criminal record that might need a pardon? While it is true that the majority of criminal convictions are going to go on your official criminal record, it is also true that not everything does. Nonviolent DUI convictions may be excluded, as well as anything that did not require fingerprinting when you were booked at the station. Understanding what is on your record is critical when you are filing for a pardon in Connecticut, as you need to list all details of your convictions – even misdemeanors and infractions – on the form.
- Do I have to pay for a pardon? Yes and no. There is no state fee for processing a pardon. Instead, the State Police Department of Public Safety will request payment for the procurement of your criminal record. You should also take this time to request any police reports linked to your convictions.
- Is a background check from one of my employers good enough to get my criminal history? No. You need a completed fingerprint card along with any payments and request forms to get a copy of your criminal record.
- This is not the first time I am filing for a pardon – can I use my previous application again? No, you must always use a fresh application when you are requesting a pardon in Connecticut. If you are worried about listing new references, don't be. Anyone you used the first time should work again.
- Do pending cases affect my pardon request? You cannot have any pending criminal court cases currently active if you want to file for a pardon.
- Can I send a lawyer in my place for the pardons hearing? While securing an attorney is beneficial for your cause and helps you navigate the pardon process, you will need to be present at the hearing or else the case will likely be tossed out and you'll have to start all over again.
- Does the board use its own discretion to decide who to pardon? Being granted a pardon is based on so much more than what is shown on the paperwork placed before the board at your pardons hearing. They need to evaluate your livelihood, your lifestyle, criminal actions of people you associate with, what the state thinks about your eligibility, and more. Since the decision can come down to how persuasive your argument is before the board, you should team up with an attorney who knows how to do the talking.
- Does a pardon denial for one conviction affect my chances for the next pardon I request? No. Pardons are examined on a case-to-case basis. What might have led to a denial for one case could be evidence enough to grant it for the next. Once again, the board's discretion has the final word.
- I was denied – can I apply for a pardon right away? For most cases, you need to wait an entire year after a denial before you can apply for another pardon, even if it is for a different conviction. The board should send you a letter explaining the reasoning behind their denial, and specifications about what you can do next. Share it with your defense lawyer.
What should I know about the offense of driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut?
Do you have questions about the offense of driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Connecticut? If so, you have come to the right place. Our Fairfield County criminal defense attorneys at Bayer & Black, P.C. have extensive knowledge of Connecticut's DUI laws and of the legal practice area of DUI defense. Below, we have provided answers to a few frequently asked questions concerning DUI. We can also help you answer additional questions after you reach out to our firm!
What constitutes a DUI offense?
In Connecticut, a DUI offense occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle while he or she is under the influence of:
- An intoxicating liquor
- A drug, or
- Both types of substances
DUI can also be charged in cases where the driver has a blood alcohol content that is at or above the legal limit. For most drivers, the legal limit is 0.08%. However, commercial drivers have a legal limit of 0.04%, and drivers who are younger than 21 years of age have a legal limit of 0.02%.
Can I get a DUI for driving while on medication?
The answer is "Yes" if you are determined by law enforcement to be under the influence of your prescription drugs. In fact, you can even be arrested for allegedly being impaired by over-the-counter drugs, such as cough medicine that makes you drowsy. Individuals who take medications are expected to refrain from driving if the known side effects of their drugs include drowsiness or other impairment of their physical and/or mental abilities.
Are there any programs I can go through to avoid conviction?
Yes. In your case, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with prosecutors or the judge to get you into a pre-trial Alcohol Education (AE) program. This may take the form of an intervention program that lasts either 10 or 15 weeks, or it may take the form of an actual treatment program. In some cases the court will allow a weekend program in lieu of the classes. Completion of the AE program allows you to have your DUI charges dismissed. In order to qualify, you must either be facing DUI charges for the first time, or you must not have gone through the program within the past 10 years.
What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath test device installed in your motor vehicle. This device requires the driver to submit a breath sample, which is used to determine the individual's blood alcohol content. If the driver has a certain amount of alcohol in his or her system, the vehicle's engine will not start. The IID records the results of the breath test, which are reviewed by law enforcement. Under Connecticut law, people who are convicted for DUI offenses must install IIDs in their vehicles for a certain period of time. The IID requirement follows a 45 day suspension. You may be eligible for a work permit during that 45 day period.
What should I do after being arrested for DUI?
First, write down all the facts you can remember. Exactly where you were stopped. The time you were stopped. The reason given for pulling you over. Questions you were asked by the officer. What you ate that day and when. Whether you were taking any medication. Where you were coming from and where you were going. How do you recall behaving at police department. While sitting in the holding cell. Next, Have all of your paperwork reviewed by an experienced DUI attorney and become familiar with your options and likely outcomes.
Wills and Trust Administration
Fairfield County Estate Administration Attorney
When people die it is said that they die either testate or intestate. Intestate means that a person died without having a Last Will and Testament. Testate means that the person did have a Last Will and Testament. In either case the Probate Court will oversee the administration of the person's estate regardless of whether the person died intestate or testate.
At Bayer & Black, P.C. we provide two different services in the administration of an estate. Many of our clients ask one of the attorneys to serve as the executor of their Last Will and Testament. If we are not named as an Executor in the Will we can also act as legal counsel for the named Executor. The role of Executor is filled with many obligations and duties. Our attorneys work diligently to ensure those obligations and duties are fulfilled.
What does administration of a will or trust involve?
When it is time to administer a will or trust, the Executor, or Trustee, such as the case may be is responsible for distribution of real property, personal property, and financial assets, paying off debts, protecting assets, and the filing of tax returns, claims, an inventory of assets, and interim and final accountings.
All of that responsibility can be overwhelming for a person who is also dealing with the loss of a loved one. At Bayer & Black, P.C. we welcome the chance to take that responsibility away from your loved ones, or help guide them through all that needs to be done in the days and months after a person passes away.
Contact Our Fairfield County Law Firm Today
It is important that you retain the representation of a trusted attorney. At our firm, we have been able to assist countless clients over the years in receiving the benefits that they deserve and ensuring that property is distributed correctly, debts are quickly paid, and benefactors are able to receive their inheritance in a timely manner.
If your loved one just passed and you have questions or concerns regarding this portion of your life and what steps you should take, you can trust that our firm is equipped with the experience needed to guide you through this difficult time. Contact Bayer & Black, P.C. today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Is Favor for Same-Sex Marriage Legalization in Decline?
The United States Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling on the legalization of same-sex marriages, which overruled the historic Baker v. Nelson case and bans implemented by 13 states, was met with controversy the moment it was announced, despite the majority apparently in favor of it. At the time, the 5-to-4 ruling by the presiding justices seemed representative of the estimated 50-60% of Americans in favor of same-sex marriage legalization. Now, according to a recent online poll conducted by the Associated Press, a dramatic change in opinion may have taken place.
The survey – which is reported on by the Associated Press here – was conducted between July 9th and 13th, and used a sample size of just over 1000 adult Americans. According to the extrapolated results, only 39-45% of Americans are now in favor of the ruling that occurred nearly a month ago and about 37-43% are directly against it. The large scale swing in the numbers comes as a surprise to some analysts, who are already looking into what it might imply.
Why the Change and What Does It Affect?
First and foremost, it should be noted that any survey can be misrepresentative of the larger picture. With a population well over 300 million, a poll of only 1,000 could be difficult to expand to that size. However, the AP-GfK Polls of the past do have a strong reputation for being fairly accurate when extrapolated.
Assuming that there are no errors in the data itself, the survey shows a sharp drop in support but no real rise in opposition. This suggests that many people who had originally been in favor of the ruling were metaphorically on the fence about the issue. Once politicians and citizens alike started to raise concerns about violated state and religious rights, a portion of supporters backed away and now consider themselves in a neutral "unsure zone."
Despite the apparent loss of support, the changes to family law brought about the Supreme Court's ruling are not likely to face any immediate or upcoming change. Same-sex couples are still free to marry or divorce in any state. If favor for the ruling does continue to decline, however, alterations could eventually take place, or possibly even a full repeal.
If you are in a same-sex relationship in Connecticut and need help with a legal issue concerning your newfound rights, contact a Fairfield County family law attorney from Bayer & Black, P.C. today.