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    Spring 2015    Like us on Facebook   
Griffin Law Web

Caregiving & Caregiver Contracts

Many elderly people want to stay in their homes as long as possible, rather than entering a care facility. We can all relate to that desire as our homes contain our memories and are usually where we feel most safe and comfortable. However, when someone wants to continue to live at home but needs assistance from a care provider, paying for in-home care is often the most expensive option, particularly if the person needs 24/7 care. The current pay rate for a CNA or similarly credentialed care provider is around $21 per hour, or $3,528 a week, or $15,120 a month! These figures do not include withholding taxes, worker's compensation, and payroll preparation costs. In comparison, the most expensive nursing homes are around $10,000 a month.


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2015 Sales Indicate Stabilization of Maine Real Estate Market


Maine Listings 'monthly statistics show that sales of single-family existing homes increased 8.6% in January, though the median sales price fell 3.9% to $160,000. ("Median" means that half of the homes were sold for more than that figure and half sold for less.) Months of steady sales reports indicate stabilization in Maine's single-family existing homes market. According to Maine Listings, realtors sold 13.31% more homes in February 2015 than in February 2014. The median sales price for those homes increased 4.62% to $167,400.


Source: Maine Association of Realtors

Reverse Mortgages: What You Should Know
Reverse Mortgage

Many older Americans are curious about reverse mortgages, but aren't sure what they are or how they work. Here is some key information you should know about reverse mortgages:


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Do I Need an Appraiser or a Real Estate Broker?


A real estate appraiser estimates the value of land and buildings before they are sold, mortgaged, insured, developed or taxed. Appraisers must be licensed or certified, and in most states, educational and experience requirements must be met. Appraisers must use a variety of reliable sources which include city or county databases, the homeowner, and the local Multiple Listing Service, to analyze the property. These sources will be included in the appraiser's very detailed report.


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Best Practices


On August 1, home buyers and owners looking to refinance will no longer receive a Good Faith Estimate from the bank or a HUD-1 settlement statement at closing. The new "TRID" forms are intended to make the loan terms, closing costs, and other information easier to understand. They also come with longer waiting periods, which, in general, mean buyers and refinancing homeowners should expect the transaction to take two weeks longer than they are used to - and even longer if changes to the loan are made prior to closing. 


The new rules also impose greater liability on lenders for mistakes made in the closing process. To address lenders' concerns about their increased liability, Griffin Law Offices has already established the controls and implemented the changes necessary to comply with the American Land Title Association's "Best Practices" standards. Among other measures, Griffin Law Offices conducts regular background checks on employees, utilizes encryption software to protect personal information, and follows detailed policies and procedures to ensure documentation is handled and processed properly and that clients are charged the correct fees.  

Buying? Selling? Hire a Realtor!


Over the past 35 years, I have handled hundreds of sales and purchases without a realtor. But my general rule of thumb remains: hire a realtor, whether you are a buyer or a seller.


First, a good realtor's due diligence, investigations, and negotiations will spare the attorney's time (and your money!).

Second, the realtor is often more experienced in the nuts and bolts of house or land issues that crop up.

Third, for sellers, realtors are more successful at negotiating higher sales prices - usually higher than the 6% commission they charge.

Fourth, as a buyer, you may be able to negotiate more effectively with an experienced broker who is more aware of market conditions and often of seller vulnerability.

Fifth, you should retain a lawyer before you sign any type of agreement to ensure that legal obstacles and some negotiation issues are considered and addressed before you are wed to the contract conditions.


Although a lawyer should be involved from pre-contract to closing, a realtor should be an additional ally for you far earlier in the process of clarifying goals and negotiating contracts.

Planning for the Future When Your Child is Disabled or Mentally Ill

Estate planning is especially important for those of us with children, but how is it handled when your child is intellectually or developmentally disabled (I/DD) or is diagnosed with mental illness? Often families stoically believe that they are the only ones who can attend to their child's needs, but what happens after both parents pass away? Who is going to see to the day-to-day needs of the child, especially if one is an adult child with I/DD or mental illness? 



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In This Issue
Caregiving and Caregiver Contracts
2015 Sales Indicate Stabilization of Maine Real Estate Market
Reverse Mortgages: What You Should Know
Do I Need an Appraiser or a Real Estate Broker?
Best Practices
Buying? Selling? Hire a Realtor!
Planning for the Future When Your Child is Disabled or Mentally Ill
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 "Practical" Chip


Chip recently authored Chapter 1 of A Practical Guide to Residential Real Estate Transactions and Foreclosures in Maine, the newest Maine real estate treatise. His chapter is titled, "Initial Client Contact and Meeting," and focuses on law practice management topics. It is published by the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education of New England. 

  Estate Tax Legislation


Chip recently helped coordinate new legislation, providing for a ten-year statute of limitation for the Maine estate tax. Surviving joint tenant spouses no longer need to go to the expense to obtain discharges of estate tax liens after the death of the first spouse to die. This will help reduce estate administrative expenses and title search curative work and will expedite many estate administrations and real estate title work throughout Maine. 

  Elder Service Forum


Rotarians Chip, Connie Jones, Vic Taylor, Bob Goodrich, and Skip Kreahling have been coordinating a new community effort to ascertain the needs, such as transportation and companionship, for area shut-ins. If you are looking for information about obtaining taxi coupons, are interested in attending the next meeting, or would like to volunteer to help elders in our community please contact Griffin Law Offices at 207-633-6300 or crg@griffinlawoffices.com


  Out and About in the Community


Chip and Melissa have recently made educational presentations in the community and state-wide. Chip taught sessions on real estate succession planning and Maine's estate tax at the Maine State Bar Association's Real Estate Institute in Augusta. Chip and Melissa presented "Estate Planning 101" in conjunction with First Advisors at Bigelow Laboratory last fall. In March, Melissa taught "Estate Planning and Elder Law" for the Boothbay Region Adult Education program. 

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