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3 ways to avoid legal trouble as a real estate professional

As a real-estate professional, there are a few ways you can find yourself facing a lawsuit. Not disclosing important information, failing to know a property well and even disclosing client information to the wrong people can create a problem for you.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to avoid a problem. By disclosing what you know about a property, walking through it before bringing in potential buyers and keeping clients' information safe, you'll dramatically reduce the likelihood of being involved in a lawsuit in the future.

Are you overdue to update your will?

It is general knowledge for most of the public that every adult needs a will if they have any property. Too often, however, those who create a will simply "set it and forget it," leaving their estate open to numerous complications. While having some form of a will is usually better than having no will at all, it is crucial to update your will any time that you experience a significant life event that may alter the will's terms.

Even if you don't experience significant life changes after establishing your will, the laws that govern estate planning may shift significantly at both a state and federal level without much fanfare or publicity. Whether you experience any of the life changes we discuss here or not, it is still wise to review your will every three to five years to make sure that changes in the law do not affect the will and your wishes for your estate.

Watch out for these 4 business lawsuits

There are many kinds of lawsuits that small business owners should look out for if they run their own businesses. These lawsuits can quickly become a problem for a business, costing it all its profits or threatening to force the owner to shut down.

There are a few kinds of lawsuits that are common among businesses. These include employment law actions, intellectual property rights, contractual disputes and fraud. Each one of these has the potential to get your business into hot water.

How a DUI affects your business

When you're running a business, one thing that you don't want to have on your record is a DUI. A DUI is bad for business for a number of reasons. First, if you cause an accident, your name may appear in the paper or online. When that happens, your DUI could be linked to your company, which may cost you customers.

Another reason that having a DUI is bad for business is that it makes it harder for you to drive or get insurance to drive. If you lose your license, for example, you may not be able to make it to corporate meetings or to work on time, damaging the reputation of your business.

The real estate market is still feeling rumblings from 2007

The recession of 2007 may just be a bad memory for most people, but for many in the real estate market, its effects still linger.

With roughly 8 million homes lost to either short sales or foreclosures, it's understandable that there are still reverberations in the industry.

Should you settle for a handshake deal?

It is tempting to assume that a handshake deal is good enough, especially when you start entering into business with people you know and trust.

For instance, perhaps you started your own company three years ago. You made a lot of friends and really got connected in the community. You met other business owners with similar companies. Eventually, you started spending your free time with them, as well. You became friends.

Start off right: The importance of business incorporation

When you have an incredible idea for a business, service or product, it is completely natural to want to move quickly to make that idea into a money-generating reality. Many people who want to start their own business focus on the smaller details, like packaging and naming products, rather than the legal technicalities involved with forming and operating a business.

Whether you intend to own and operate the business on your own or you plan to partner with investors, you should take some time to consider your options. For many small and medium-sized business owners, a sole ownership or partnership may be all that you need to begin business operations. However, if you anticipate any kind of liability or financial risk, it may be in your best interests to seriously consider forming a corporation.

How well do you understand security deposit rules in Pennsylvania

Becoming a landlord sounds like an attractive prospect on paper. To hear real estate investors talk about this career, it seems like a dream. All you need to do is secure financing to purchase a property and then sit back and collect a rent check, right? Many people who venture into the rental real estate world find themselves facing a rude awakening about the reality of landlord responsibilities.

Owning a property and renting it to tenants can be a great source of income, but it is also a source of responsibility. You need to maintain the structure, as well as the critical appliances and fixtures, like the furnace. When tenants move out, you will need to clean and make repairs, which can become quite costly. Most landlords offset the expenses related to tenant damage by charging a security deposit. However, if you don't understand state law about security deposits, you could end up in a difficult position.

Driving while impaired includes many substances, not just alcohol

When you drive anywhere, you have to be ready to react quickly to hazards around your vehicles. When you are impaired by anything, whether it is alcohol or some other substance, you can't react in the time or manner that you intend. This can be fatal or very dangerous.

Because of this danger, states have enacted laws making it illegal it to drive while you are impaired. While many people associate these laws only with alcohol, this isn't the case. Impaired driving laws apply to a variety of substances.

Is it time to update your will to protect your loved ones?

If you've already made your will, you may think it is good enough to let it be until the time comes to use it. Unfortunately, this is simply untrue. While it is good to have a will, especially considering how many people do not have one, an outdated will can create numerous complications for your family and loved ones once you pass away.

Many life changes may affect the terms of a will, making it necessary to review its terms regularly and possibly amend them. Also, the laws that govern estate planning and taxation are constantly changing, so even those who have not experienced significant life changes may still need to look their will over and make sure it complies with current laws.

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Kenneth L. Baritz & Associates, P.C.
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