In the good old days, a real estate lawyer or a real estate attorney was someone who represented you at the closing of your house. There is much more to this story. Your home is your castle, it’s not just mortar and bricks. It is your largest financial investment and it represents the even larger emotional investment you have made in your family. Your home represents the manifestation of the American Dream, of owning your own plot of earth and throwing down roots.

At Russo Law Group, P.C., as your Long Island Real Estate Attorney, we have the knowledge and the experience to help you safeguard your castle.

Real Estate Sales and Purchases

The world of real estate has become more complicated over time. We represent clients on all aspects of residential, condominium and cooperative apartment purchases and sales. Whether you are purchasing or selling your first home, adding property to your real estate portfolio, downsizing into a smaller home, helping a parent sell a house, or selling a house after a parent’s death, Russo Law Group, P.C. can help you. We represent you from contract negotiation, obtaining financing, clearing title, to closing. With seven convenient locations throughout Long Island, Queens & Manhattan, a real estate attorney on our team will help you through the maze of paperwork and decisions that are a part of every real estate closing.

How Can I Protect My House?

Many people come to us in crisis because a loved one needs nursing home care. They want to know how the house can be saved. There are many techniques that can be used to save the house, from re-titling the property to the right person, to sophisticated legal trusts. For example, parents can transfer their home to their children and keep a life estate (see below).

We take great care to make sure that nothing is done that may endanger Medicaid nursing home benefits. Unless you are intimately familiar with Medicaid and the new changes that happened in 2006 under the Deficit Reduction Act, saving your house is not a do-it-yourself project. With an experienced real estate lawyer on the legal team of Russo Law Group, P.C. on your side, we can help you save your house.

Leases

For residential and retail real estate and investment properties, we represent landowners and tenants in a variety of leasing transactions. We prepare, negotiate, review, analyze and enforce leases. We have a thorough understanding of the interplay between the legal and business components of leasing. A well-strategized lease can have a large impact on the property’s economics while minimizing the legal risk. Our experienced attorneys secure our client’s leasing interests while saving time and money.

Life Estates

Would you like to give your house to your child, but have the peace of mind that, as long as you are alive, you can stay in the house? If so, a life estate may make sense. As with any other planning technique, there are pluses and minuses. We will explain the Medicaid and tax benefits of a life estate. We will also help you determine if this strategy makes sense for you and your family. Then, we will make sure that the paperwork is properly drafted and executed.

Reverse Mortgages

With a traditional mortgage, you back pay the bank, month by month, and eventually you own the home free and clear of debt. A reverse mortgage is the exact opposite of a traditional mortgage: the mortgage company pays YOU, the homeowner, each month. You do not have to pay the reverse mortgage back until some later time. A reverse mortgage allows homeowners who are at least age 62 to tap into their home equity to supplement their retirement income.

You may have heard that reverse mortgages are the next best thing since sliced bread, or you may have heard that they are a rip-off. Like most sophisticated financial solutions, the answer isn’t black and white and having the right real estate lawyer is important. There’s one very important thing for you to know with a reverse mortgage; as long as you are alive and living in the home, you will not have to repay the loan.

A reverse mortgage doesn’t make sense if you plan on moving soon, or if you have other cash available to tap into first. It can be a wonderful solution for someone who is house rich and cash poor.

A real estate attorney can help you evaluate whether a reverse mortgage makes sense for you or not, and then we can help you find a reputable reverse mortgage lender. We will make sure that it fits in your overall estate plan.

How can I save on my real property taxes?

Making sure you are taking advantage of any and all available property tax exemptions is one way to save on your real property taxes.

Although all property is assessed, not all of it is taxable. Some properties are completely exempt from paying property taxes while others are partially exempt. Some examples of scenarios where partial exemptions may be available are to veterans who qualify for an exemption on part of their homes, and homeowners who are eligible for the School Tax Relief (STAR) program.

Since most exemptions are offered by the local taxing jurisdiction (municipality, county or school district), it is important to check with your local tax assessor to determine what exemptions are available in your area.

The following are a list of common NYS Property Tax Exemptions:

STAR (School Tax Relief)

Basic STAR –

  • available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners’ and their spouses income is less than $500,000
  • exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes

Enhanced STAR –

  • provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes
  • exempts the first $65,300 of the full value of a home from school taxes as of 2016-17 school tax bills (unchanged from 2015-16)

STAR exemptions apply only to school district taxes. They don’t apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city (except in cities where city property taxes fund schools – Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers).

Senior Citizens Exemption

Local governments and school districts in New York State can opt to grant a reduction on the amount of property taxes paid by qualifying senior citizens. This is accomplished by reducing the taxable assessment the senior’s home by as much as 50%.

To qualify, seniors generally must be 65 years of age or older and meet certain income limitations and other requirements. For the 50% exemption, the law allows each county, city, town, village, or school district to set the maximum income limit at any figure between $3,000 and $29,000.

Localities have the further option of giving exemptions of less than 50% to seniors whose incomes are more than $29,000. Under this option, called the “sliding-scale option,” such owner can have a yearly income as high as $37,399.99 and get a 5% exemption in places that are using the maximum limit.

In order to be eligible for this exemption an application must be filed by a specified deadline. Although most communities the deadline for submitting exemption applications is March 1 of each year, the dates vary in some cities and counties.

You should confirm with your local assessor, city/town clerk, or school district to determine which local options, if any, may be available to you.

Veterans’ Exemption

There are three different property tax exemptions available to veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces, including veterans who have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

If you’re an eligible veteran, you must submit the initial exemption application form to your local tax assessor. Although you should confirm the date with your local tax assessor, the deadline in most communities is March 1 of each year. You will need to provide proof of discharge under honorable conditions including and times and places served in active duty (usually form DD-214), which must be attached to the exemption application.

Whichever exemption a Veteran chooses, it will apply only to your county, city, town, and village taxes; it does not apply to special district taxes.

You can only receive one of the three exemptions listed below.

Alternative Veterans’ Exemption (Authorized by Real Property Tax Law, section 458-a) –
Available only on residential property of a Veteran who has served during a designated time of war, or who has received an expeditionary medal
Veteran applicants should check with their local assessor or clerk in the municipalities in which they reside to see whether the alternative veterans’ exemption is offered

Cold War Veterans’ Exemption (Authorized by Real Property Tax Law, section 458-b) –
Available only on residential property of a Veteran who served during the Cold War period
Counties, cities, towns, and villages have the option to offer this exemption to qualified Veterans
Check with your assessor or clerk to see whether the Cold war Veterans’ exemption is offered

Eligible Funds Exemption
Provides a partial exemption
Applies to property that a veteran or certain other designated person purchases. Such owners must purchase the property with pension, bonus or insurance monies.

Exemption for persons with disabilities

Local governments and school districts in New York State can opt to grant a reduction on the amount of property taxes paid by qualifying persons with disabilities.

To qualify, persons with disabilities must have certain documented evidence of their disability and meet income limitations and other requirements.

The basic exemption is a 50% reduction in the assessed value of the legal residence of the qualifying disabled person. For the basic exemption, the law allows each county, city, town, village, or school district to set the maximum income limit at any figure between $3,000 and $29,000.

Localities have the further option of giving exemptions of less than 50% to persons with qualifying disabilities whose incomes are more than $29,000. Under this option, called the sliding-scale option, a qualifying owner can have a yearly income as high as $37,399.99 and get a 5% exemption in places that are using the maximum limit.

In order to be eligible for this exemption an application must be filed by a specified deadline. Although most communities the deadline for submitting exemption applications is March 1 of each year, the dates vary in some cities and counties.

You should check with your local tax assessor or the clerks of the local governments and school district involved to determine which local options, if any, may be available to you.


If you have questions or concerns about Real Estate issues, please don’t hesitate to contact the Real Estate Attorneys with Russo Law Group, P.C.

 

 

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