FAQs

Disclaimer:  This information is provided with the understanding that the author and publisher are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services. The publishers disclaim any liability, loss or risk incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this information. This information is not a substitute for the advice of a competent legal or other professional person.

REAL ESTATE:

1.  Q.  My spouse recently died.  Do I need to change my deed if he/she was on it with me?

    A.  No.  There is no reason to do a new deed if your spouse died, unless you wish to add someone else's name to your title, such as a child.
2.  Q.  When I buy real estate, should I have the title examined?

    A.  Yes.  Unless you are really certain that there are no liens or title defects in the title history, you should have the title examined.  An example would be if you take title from a close relative who you trust.  Even then, possibly the relative doesn't know of the title problem.  If you invest in real estate, invest the extra money and have the title checked by a real estate attorney.
3.  Q.  What does a title examination cost?

    A.  There is a cost formula depending on the sale price, but we charge on average between $500 and $1,000.  You have our guarantee that the title is clear if we do the work. 
4.    Q.  Should I have a lawyer represent me in the sale or purchase of real estate?

    A.  We have handled thousands of real estate closings over the 50 years of our law practice.  Only recently have "title companies" opened offices to do this work.  The title company will handle the paperwork for the buyer and seller, but will not represent either in the event of a problem.  If you have a title company handle the closing, you do not have representation of your interests in the settlement process.  The cost to you is about the same with or without a lawyer.

ESTATE PLANNING:

1.  Q.  Do I need a Will?

    A.  We have told people in the past that they do not need a Will, but it is rare.  If you are single or widowed, and have all of your assets in joint names with someone else, then you may not need a Will.  But if you are married, or single with asset(s) in your own name alone, then without doubt we say you need a Will.
2.  Q.  What is a Trust?

    A.  A Trust is a contract with someone else, called a trustee, who you ask to manage your assets.  The trust management of your assets could be during your lifetime or after you die.  The most common is called a "Living Trust", which simply is a written trust contract that you sign during your lifetime, which takes effect immediately.  Your assets may be transferred to the Trust either during your lifetime or after you die, depending on your choice.
3.  Q.  What is a Power of Attorney?

    A.  A Power of Attorney is very simply a written document that appoints someone to take care of your assets and/or health care decisions if you become disabled and can't do it for yourself.  I could include the power to sell real estate, pay bills, and make decisions about medical treatment.  It is a very important document only if you become disabled.  If you don't have one and you are disabled, your family must have you declared "incapacitated" by the Court in a "Guardianship" proceeding to be able to help you.
4.  Q.  What if I die without a Will?

    A.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a Statute that tells us exactly what to do with your assets if you die without a Will.

ESTATE ADMINISTRATION:

1.    Q.  If someone dies, what legal work needs to be done?

    A.  This depends on the unique situation, but generally the administration of the deceased's estate  includes paying all expenses (bills, taxes, etc.); valuing assets such as real estate, savings and checking accounts, investment accounts (stock, IRA, savings bonds, etc.); paying the inheritance taxes on the estate assets; accounting to the Heirs for the assets and expenses; and reporting to the Court for the assets and expenses.  Remember, each estate is different, and it requires knowledge and skill to properly administer an Estate.  This is one area of the law that "do it yourselfers" should not try. 
2.    Q.  What does it cost to have an attorney handle the Estate?

    A.  This also depends on the unique Estate.  We base our fee on the value of the assets, the complexity of the Estate, the number of Heirs representing the Estate, and the time and effort needed to complete the Estate Administration.  We generally use 5% of asset value as the starting point, and rarely go over that, but usually are under it.

About Us

The Law Offices of John M. R. Ayres, LLC are among Johnstown's leading and most respected law firms, with roots in the legal community dating to the 1800s. More…

Areas of Practice

  • Business Corporations
  • Estate Planning
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Real Estate
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Estate Administration
More…