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Justin C. Lowenthal

Justin Lowenthal’s Answers

470 total


  • Why should I put my home in a LLC and then into a trust?

    I have been told to put my home in a LLC and then put that LLC into a trust?

    Justin’s Answer

    An LLC can provide liability protection for assets and may provide tax benefits. However, there are substantial downsides associated with transferring your primary home into an LLC.

    First, you lose your $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples) capital gain deduction because you no longer satisfy the ownership test of the Internal Revenue Code. Second, you lose your homestead exemption, which exempts creditor’s rights to obtain the equity in your primary residence up to your jurisdictional limit. Third, hazard/homeowner's insurance is more difficult to obtain. Fourth, in the event you have bank financing on the property, you will trigger the due on sale clause in the loan documents, meaning that the entire balance of the loan may become immediately due.

    If you are using your personal residence for estate planning purposes, a qualified personal residence trust (“QPRT”) may be more effective than transferring your property to a limited liability company. I suggest sitting down with an estate planning attorney in your area to discuss your options.

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  • The RE agent that's working with my home purchase keeps misleading me, is that legal?

    Escrow opened 5/5/16. It's still open. The agent keeps changing the closing date and purchase price. I was told this weekend I would have the keys and I turned in my apt, switched utilities to new home, scheduled moving deliveries and took the day...

    Justin’s Answer

    I agree fully with Mr. McDaniel but should add that only YOU can change the purchase price. That would require a signed amendment/addendum to the original Purchase Agreement. With regards to the closing date - that is less rigid if there are title or loan issues to work out. However, if those items are nonexistent and the agent is unilaterally changing the Close of Escrow date without your written consent, the agent is acting improperly. My gut tells me there is a good reason for all of this and that perhaps you are just frustrated. However, if the agent is in fact changing price or granting extensions without your permission, you should speak with a real estate attorney quickly to protect your rights.

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  • How can my friends name be put back on the house tittle legally?

    My mom explained to me that her friend doesn't speak english and has a boyfriend whom they both financed a house together got a loan but he took her off the tittle illegally with out her consent she signed (he forged her signature) but she didn't ...

    Justin’s Answer

    Please address your custody question in a separate family law posting.

    With regards to the real estate matter, your mother's friend should meet with a real estate attorney right away. If there was forgery, the potential crime should be reported to the police. To address the matter in a civil forum, speak with the attorney about pursuing a cancellation of deed and quiet title action against the boyfriend. Fraud/forgery, which appear to be the case, are grounds to have the deed cancelled and title should be confirmed by the court as it was prior to the fraudulent deed through the quiet title action.

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  • How can a member of a real estate venture force their partner to pay for all the expenses associated with a sale?

    I sent my partner's lawyer a letter stating I want them to pay for problems associated with the property in the event we find a willing buyer. The attorney replied by saying "The contract you signed was ambiguous and vague and only states how pro...

    Justin’s Answer

    The only way you might compel a partner to personally pay for all the expenses of a sale is through a contract or court order, such as an order based in equity. Absent some unique circumstances, the partnership should be paying for all expenses - not the individual partners. I fear that you may have just made some very poor investment decisions and the costs of sale are the least of your worries. If your partner was the builder and you were the financier, its possible that some causes of action against your partner exist if he built the building without permits and in violation of building codes. It sounds like the appraiser spotted several issues with the project that must be factored in to the overall value. If you cannot remedy these items, the appraiser may be right. Partition doesn't seem like the way to go here. However, its vital that you speak with a real estate attorney immediately to protect your interests and preserve your rights.

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  • Can i use the 3 day termination notice legally

    i have a tenant that i have gave several chances and they are damaging my property to where i simply cannot afford to continue having them as tenants, code enforcement has came to the property so many times for this tenant they now charge me an ad...

    Justin’s Answer

    These sound like very problematic and destructive tenants. I strongly recommend that you confer with a landlord/tenant attorney in your area about what recourse you might have under the lease and whether a 3-day notice to quit or notice to perform or quit is appropriate. Do not resort to any self-help eviction remedies. Best of luck.

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  • Need to remove / report a death for my deed on a joint tenant deed in CA.

    I am asking on behalf of my mom but my father passed away in March and we need to remove him from the deed and eventually add me on but that is for another time. The mortgage company remove him from the mortgage without us even sending notificatio...

    Justin’s Answer

    I believe you will need to file a Change in Ownership Statement found here: http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/34969 and record an Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant, which can be prepared by an attorney or title company.

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  • Should I get LLC or umbrella liability insurance for protection?

    My email: jane_y10@yahoo.com Thanks for taking the time. I live in CA and buy a single house family home in FL for rental purpose. This is my only rental property without other business. It is in my name alone. For protection, I'm considering...

    Justin’s Answer

    I always recommend umbrella insurance first, LLC second. My fear is that you may leave the LLC undercapitalized and then the veil protection afforded to you under statute may be set aside. At least with the low cost of umbrella insurance you are funding the LLC with liability protection. Moreover, at least in California, the price for doing business as an LLC is at least $800 per year. My recommendation? Go with the insurance and forget about the LLC unless you have cash to burn and will sleep better at night. If this were a multi-family or commercial property the risk increases dramatically, so I would be recommend both. With a SFH, however, insurance is just fine in my opinion.

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  • How much to turn my duplex into condos, start to finish

    I own a duplex in Oakland, I am considering converting it to condos. What are the costs to do this? What are renter rights? The duplex already has two legal addresses. How much would it appreciate the value of the property?

    Justin’s Answer

    Condo conversions can pencil-out in your favor, but you need to be working a real estate agent and/or property manager to help you determine the post-conversion value of the property. Frankly, I am more concerned about the tenants who, in Oakland, may be under rent control and/or Section 8 regulations that dictate whether this conversion is even possible for you (at this time). Assuming there are rent control issues at play, I strongly recommend that you speak with a landlord/tenant attorney in Oakland before beginning the conversion process.

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  • When I buy out our house from my wife, will real estates tax re-adjust based on the buy out price $1M ?

    We are having a divorce, We bought a house for $500k, now the house current market worth $1M. I plan to buy out this house from my wife. I want to find out whether this will change the cost of the house for real estates tax calculation.

    Justin’s Answer

    Generally, this shouldn't trigger reassessment so long as both parties were on title at the time of the buy-out. You may wish to contact your County Assessor/Recorder to confirm.

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  • Do I need a license to resell retail products within a business?

    If I am wanting to acquire a few products from different companies and package them together and resell them in a set ( similar to a subscription box service ), do I need a license or permit to do so ? It would be a registered business not unde...

    Justin’s Answer

    Yes. Generally you will need a resale permit from the BOE and a local business license. Check calgold.ca.gov for permit requirements for your particular business.

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