This week I am thrilled to interview real estate attorney and fellow volunteer Jill Klancke of Klancke and Cook Attorneys at Law.
Jill’s bio and contact information follows the interview, but for the sake of newsletter formatting I want to get straight to the Q&A. Turns out, real estate attorneys have a front row seat to all sorts of juicy family and relationship drama. Read on!
Kristi: I used to think of real estate attorneys as someone only extremely wealthy people would need. In what ways do you help “regular” people?
Jill: All kinds of individuals own real estate. It is not just a rich person’s bastion. Anyone who owns property may end up needing a real estate attorney to solve an ownership issue, land disputes, facilitate a private sale, or interpret legal documents they don’t understand. The average sales price of a home in Denver is over half a million dollars. That’s a lot of money to go in debt over without counsel.
Kristi: Can you give an example of someone who didn’t use a real estate attorney and regretted it?
Jill: Yes! I’ve worked with unmarried but cohabitating couples where they buy a home together and then the relationship falls apart. One moves out, the other is stuck with the mortgage. It’s a terrible situation. Someone has to assume full responsibility for payment because the other won’t pay and non-payment will destroy their credit. They should have used a real estate attorney to begin with to execute a property ownership agreement with an exit strategy.
I have seen a partner assume debt on a home they didn’t even own to help out a significant other who had bad credit. Couple breaks up, the “nice partner” ends up on a mortgage of a home they do not even own and don’t have access to. Again, I would have pressed for an ownership interest to the real estate up front and drafted a property ownership agreement.
Kristi: What advice would you give to a parent considering providing a private mortgage to their child?
Jill: First answer is, “think twice.” Second answer is they must be willing to foreclose on the child or consider the loan a gift if non-payment occurs.
The issue with parent/child loans is that it is the opposite of an arm’s length transaction. Also, it is common to put the parents’ name on the deed to protect them from non-payment, but that is a bad idea. Often if the loan ends up being a gift the other siblings will resent it.
If parents still choose to loan money to the child, which happens all the time, a proper promissory note and a deed of trust must be prepared and recorded. In these situations I also often require a signed quit claim deed from child to parents, to be held by the attorney, and a separate agreement that states upon 3 months of default they may record the quit claim deed and take possession of the real estate without further legal action.
Thank you so much, Jill, for educating my faithful readers on the many times a real estate attorney can help with planning needs.
Jill obtained her J.D. from the Denver University School of Law. She has been in practice for over 35 years as a real estate attorney. Jill partners with her husband, David and their areas of expertise include real estate, business, Wills and Trusts. Learn more at http://klanckecook.com/index.html.