Buying or selling a home is probably the most significant financial transaction that most
consumers undertake in their lifetime. While this can be an exciting time, without the proper
legal guidance, the process can be frustrating, overwhelming and more expensive than
necessary. Even if there are no obvious disagreements between the Buyer and Seller it is
advisable for each party to enter into real estate transactions with their own attorney who
can help steer them away from common pitfalls and make the transaction an enjoyable
We represent Buyers, Sellers and Financial Institutions from drafting a Purchase and Sale Contract through obtaining the final Title Insurance Policy.
We offer our clients broad based real estate legal advice and representation in the following transactions:
In addition to real estate transactions, we assist with the following residential and commercial real estate issues:
We can assist you with a wide range of real estate matters from the purchase of raw land
to the sale of a developed property and everything in between. We can help you take your
project from start to finish.
If you are considering buying, selling, leasing, or investing in commercial real estate property you should consult our firm to ensure that your transaction is structured in the most beneficial way.
Our firm assists client with the following commercial real estate issues:
If your property is worth less than what you owe, you are not trapped. Let us help you put
your house on the market and negotiate with the lender to allow you to do a short sale.
A short sale is the process in which the current mortgage holder will agree to allow you
to sell the property for less than what the debtor owes in the property. The amount that
is left unpaid with the sale of the property could be pardon by the mortgage holder or the
mortgage holder could retain the right to collect on it in the future. In the second scenario in
which the mortgage holder retains the right to collect the deficiency in the future the debtor
could work on a settlement negotiation or consider other options more fully described in our
section of ‘Dealing with Debt’.
Abogados Law has extensive experience negotiating shorts sales and avoiding foreclosure proceedings while your mortgage is negotiated and a short sale approved through our office. You don’t need to sell your house through a real estate agent to get a short sale approved, what you need is a buyer and Abogados Law to negotiate the sale for the amount the property is woth and not what the is owed in the mortgage.
While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of
the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper
estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also spare your loved
ones of the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you
pass away or become disabled.
Providing for Incapacity
If you become incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is that in order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the court every year and show how they are spending and investing each and every penny. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you, you must designate a person or persons that you trust in proper legal documents so that they will have the authority to withdraw money from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell stocks, and refinance your home. A will does not take effect until you die and a power of attorney may be insufficient.
In addition to planning for the financial aspect of your affairs during incapacity, you should establish a plan for your medical care. The law allows you to appoint someone you trust - for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using a durable power of attorney for health care where you designate the person to make such decisions. In addition to a power of attorney for heath care, you should also have a living will which informs others of your preferred medical treatments such as the use of extraordinary measures should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill.
If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process is expensive, time-consuming and open to the public. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. If you are married and have children, you want to make certain that your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being settled. It is not unusual for the probate courts to freeze assets for weeks or even months while trying to determine the proper disposition of the estate. Your surviving spouse may be forced to apply to the probate court for needed cash to pay current living expenses. You can imagine how stressful this process can be. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.
Providing for Minor Children
It is important that your estate plan address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. If your children are young, you may want to consider implementing a plan that will allow your surviving spouse devote more attention to your children, without the burden of work obligations. You may also want to provide for special counseling and resources for your spouse if you believe they lack the experience or ability to handle financial and legal matters. You should also discuss with your attorney the possibility of both you and your spouse dying simultaneously, or within a short duration of time. A contingency plan should provide for persons you’d like to manage your assets as well as the guardian you’d like to nominate for the upbringing of your children. The person, or trustee in charge of the finances need not be the same person as the guardian. In fact, in many situations, you may want to purposely designate different persons to maintain a system of checks and balances. Otherwise, the decision as to who will manage your finances and raise your children will be left to a court of law. Even if you are lucky enough to have the person or persons you would have wanted selected by the court, they may have undue burdens and restrictions placed on them by the court, such as having to provide annual accounting.
Other issues to consider in this respect is whether you’d like your beneficiaries to receive your assets directly, or whether you’d prefer to have the assets placed in trust and distributed based a number of factors which you designate, such as age, need and even incentives based on behavior and education. All too often, children receive substantial assets before they are mature enough to handle them properly, with devastating results.
You should give careful thought to your choice of guardian, ensuring that he or she shares the values you want instilled in your children. You will also want to give consideration to the age and financial condition of a potential guardian. Some guardians may lack child-rearing skills you feel are necessary. Make sure that your plan does not create an additional financial burden for the guardian.
Planning for Death Taxes
No matter how overtaxed you think you are during life, Uncle Sam will want to review your estate at death to ensure you don’t owe him that one final tax: the federal estate tax. Whether there will be any tax to pay depends on the size of your estate and how your estate plan works. Many states have their own separate estate and inheritance taxes that you need to be aware of. There are many well-established strategies that can be implemented to reduce or eliminate death taxes, but you must start planning process early in order to implement many of these plans.
Charitable Bequests – Planned Giving
Do you want to benefit a charitable organization or cause? Your estate plan can provide for such organizations in a variety of ways, either during your lifetime or at your death. Depending on how your planned giving plan is set up, it may also let you receive a stream of income for life, earn higher investment yield, or reduce your capital gains or estate taxes.
A well-crafted estate plan should provide for your loved ones in an effective and efficient manner by avoiding guardianship during your lifetime, probate at death, estate taxes and unnecessary delays. You should consult a qualified estate planning attorney to review your family and financial situation, your goals and explain the various options available to you. Once your estate plan is in place, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have provided for yourself and your family in case the worst happens.
You've worked hard your whole life to provide for your family and make your loved ones more secure. Without advanced estate planning strategies, much of the significant assets you have accumulated may end up with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
Our firm can assist in the preparation and execution of sophisticated planning strategies as Family Limited Partnerships or Limited Liability Companies, Personal Residence Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts and a wide range of charitable gifting techniques to reduce Federal Estate Taxes, Gift Taxes and Generation Skipping Transfer Taxes.
Family Limited Partnerships
A Family Limited Partnership (FLP) is a form of a limited partnership among members of a family. The main advantages of forming and funding an FLP involve estate and gift tax savings and asset protection. An FLP also allows you to retain control over the transferred assets while enjoying these advantages.
Once the FLP is established and your assets are transferred to it, you can make gifts of limited partnership interests to your children or other beneficiaries. This accomplishes several different estate planning objectives simultaneously.
First, the value of each limited partnership interest which you give away decreases the value of your taxable estate and, consequently, any tax which your heirs would have to pay upon your death. The gifts are made using the annual gift tax exclusion, so you do not have to pay any gift tax on the transfer.
Second, the value of the partnership interests transferred to your beneficiaries is far less than the corresponding value of the assets in the partnership. Since limited partners do not have the ability to direct or control the day-to-day operation of the partnership, a minority discount can be applied to reduce the value of the limited partnership interests which you are gifting. Furthermore, because the partnership is a closely-held entity and not publicly- traded, a discount can be applied based upon the lack of marketability of the limited partnership interest. This allows you to leverage the FLP as a vehicle to transfer more wealth to your beneficiaries, while retaining control of the underlying assets. Lastly, a properly-structured FLP can have creditor protection characteristics since the general partners are not obligated to distribute earnings of the partnership.
Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
Our homes are often our most valuable assets and hence one of the largest components of our taxable estate. A Qualified Personal Residence Trust or a QPRT (pronounced “cue-pert” allows you to give away your house or vacation home at a great discount, freeze its value for estate tax purposes, and still continue to live in it. Here is how it works: You transfer the title to your house to the QPRT (usually for the benefit of your family members), reserving the right to live in the house for a specified number of years. If you live to the end of the specified period, the house (as well as any appreciation in its value since the transfer) passes to your children or other beneficiaries free of any additional estate or gift taxes. After the end of the specified period, you may continue to live in the home but you must pay rent to your family or designated beneficiary in order to avoid inclusion of the residence in your estate. This is may be an added benefit as it serves to further reduce the value of your taxable estate, though the rent income does have income tax consequences for your family. If you die before the end of the period, the full value of the house will be included in your estate for estate tax purposes, though in most cases you are no worse off than you would have been had you not established a QPRT. An added benefit of the QPRT is that it also serves as an excellent asset/creditor protection vehicle since you no longer technically own the property once the trust is established and your residence is transferred to the QPRT.
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
There is a common misconception that life insurance proceeds are not subject to Federal Estate Taxes. While the proceeds are received by your loved ones free of any income taxes, they are countable as part of your taxable estate and therefore your loved ones can lose about half of its value to estate taxes.
An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is created specifically for the purpose of owning your life insurance policy. A properly established and administered trust holds the policy outside of your estate and keeps the proceeds from being taxable to your estate. The proceeds from the insurance policy can then be used to provide your estate with the liquidity to pay estate taxes, pay off debts, pay final expenses and provide income to a surviving spouse or children. The ILIT will be the policy owner and beneficiary. Once your trust is established, you use your annual gift tax exclusion to make cash gifts to your trust. Your beneficiaries forgo the present gift (in lieu of the future proceeds) and the trustee uses the remaining gift to pay the premium on the life insurance policy.
There are many options available when setting up an ILIT. For example, ILITs can be structured to provide income to a surviving spouse with the remainder going to your children from a previous marriage. You can also provide for distribution of a limited amount of the insurance proceeds over a period of time to a financially irresponsible child.
Our firm is dedicated to helping clients make educated, informed decisions about their assets and will work with you and your team of financial advisors and CPAs to implement a highly sophisticated estate plan.
Domestic Asset Protection Trust
If you transfer assets to a trust and you are also a trust beneficiary then we have a so-called "self-settled" trust. For estate planning is common to have a living trust, an example of a self-settled trust. In most states, a self-settled trust does not protect the trust maker’s beneficial interest in the income or principal of the trust from the trust maker’s creditor.
In some foreign countries the trust maker’s beneficial interest in a self settled trust created in their country is protected from the trust maker’s creditors. These are some of the debtor-friendly provisions created in some overseas countries to encourage new trust business. In an effort to compete with the offshore business, some states in the United States have also created statutes which grant similar asset protection benefits to self-settled trusts. These are called domestic asset protection trusts ("DAPT"). DAPTs intend to provide investors and business owners the protection of offshore trust planning within the United States to be able to attract businesses and assets to their states.
DAPT common features are fairly common across jurisdictions/states. These provisions include that a DAPT must be irrevocable; therefore, the trust maker may not withdraw assets once these are transferred to the trust. At least one trustee should also be a state resident or a corporation doing business in the state. Some trust assets must also be located or deposited in the state. Like the foreign trusts, DAPT could also provide for a position of "trust protector" who is a person with power to veto the trustee's decisions to make distributions. The trust protector will enforce the veto power if distributions may be vulnerable to the trust maker's creditors, therefore ‘protecting’ the trust assets from outside creditors.
Who should serve as a trustee?
The biggest concern for most clients is to retain some control over their assets while these are placed in a trust. For some to place assets in a trust under another person’s or corporation trustee powers is compared to placing the wolf in the henhouse. A trustee has a fiduciary duty to the grantor and beneficiaries of the trust and the courts do not waste any time in evaluating and enforcing beneficiaries concerns about trustees overreaching their powers. Nevertheless, the convenience of not having to obtain the trustee’s approval for everything and the re-assurance that you will not wake up one day and find everything gone is a real concern. Although for Medicaid issues and for some attorneys a settler of a DAPT should never be the trustee we have not found any legal support for this conclusion with an income-only trust.
For a Virginia client with a modest estate (i.e. where estate taxes are not a concern) a better choice of entity for asset protection is an income only trust, provided that the client is willing to give up direct access to the trust principal and enjoy all the benefits. The expense and complication of setting up a trust in another jurisdiction and having the trust administered by a paid professional trustee is overwhelming and expensive.
If your monthly mortgage payment is too high, let us advise you if it is possible for you to
modify your loan to bring the payments down to a minimum.
A loan modification is a permanent change in the current parameters of an existing mortgage loan. This change is made by a lender in response to a homeowner’s long-term inability to repay the loan under the existing conditions. Typically, this involves a reduction in the interest rate and payment of the loan, a different type of loan, an extension of the loan term, or any combination of the three. A loan modification agreement is different from a forbearance agreement.
A Forbearance provides short-term relief for homeowners who have temporary financial difficulties, while a loan modification agreement is a long-term solution for homeowners who are struggling to repay their mortgages due to financial hardship. Your lender must still approve the terms of the loan modification.
Abogados Law has obtained many loan modification for a lot of consumers allowing them to keep their homes. A loan modification combined with other debt elimination and modification techniques could provide the peace of mind you need to keep your home and eliminate all other debt that burdens your ability to pay the mortgage.
We have modified loans with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Americas Loan Servicing, many credit unions and financial institutions that provide loan modifications through the Government programs or with their own in house processes.
A loan modification is not something a lender ‘must’ provide. Although the government has established and provided guidelines for giving them there is no mandate as to the lenders providing a loan modification. Furthermore, the amount of paperwork and follow up with the lenders could be endless while their foreclosures department could continue to threat with foreclosure if you are not paying for the house. For all these reasons and more is always recommended to use a law firm to negotiate your loan modification.
Our professionals have the knowledge and tools to obtain the loan modification that could keep you home and stop all the foreclosures coming along the way while we negotiate. Don’t let those that say they will negotiate for ‘free’ handle your loan modification, they will not follow up and as such not obtain the modification and then offer the only solution in which most of those ‘free’ consultants can make money, short sale commissions.
Your mortgage is a legal document and the negotiation of those terms must and should be those by laywes with experience in mortgage and real estate matters. You can find those at Abogados Law, PLC.
Our firm advises and represents companies and entrepreneurs with a broad range of business related services. We advise our
clients on business law, start-up assistance relating to the formation of an entity, the protection of a trademark or license
agreement and assist with buying or selling a business.
Business Startup Services
Starting a business requires thorough planning. Our firm assists business owners in the formation of legally sound business entities and help entrepreneurs devise business strategies that help them achieve their goals. We advise on the business startup and formation process including issues related to selection of entity type and jurisdiction.
We also consult with business owners and draft shareholder agreements or partnership agreements as part of the entity formation
Buying and Selling Businesses
Our firm can guide business owners in the multi-stage process of buying or selling a business including:
Preparation and Review of Business Contracts
Our firm consults with business owners to draft, review, and negotiate contracts related to various business activities, including:
Abogoados Law, PLC can advise and represent you on immigration matters ranging form the simple to the complex.
Whether you are looking for an E-1 Trade Investment Visa, seeking a green card for your spouse or facing deportation, the Virginia immigration attorneys at Abogados Law can help you get the best possible outcome for your case. Our lawyers have successfully represented hundreds of immigration cases. We have experience in all aspects of immigration law and can conduct marriage interviews as well as help our clients file applications for residency, waivers, motions to reopen, and applications for relief from deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act. We also have the experience to help non-citizens who have been arrested or convicted of a crime.
We can help you to obtain a non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa. A non-immigrant visa differs from an immigrant visa in that the non-immigrant visa only allows a person to enter temporarily, whereas an immigrant visa holder can enter and stay permanently.
Our Immigrant Visa (Permanent Residency) includes but is not limited to:
Family Sponsored Immigration
U.S. citizens may petition for spouses, parents, children and siblings. Permanent residents may petition for spouses and children.
Our Non-Immigrant Visa representation includes but is not limited to:
B-1/B-2 Visitor's Visas
Available to visits coming to the U.S. for business or pleasure. B-1 business visitor visas are for a short duration and must not involve local employment.
E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader and Investor Visas
Investors and traders and their employees may receive visas to carry on their businesses in the U.S. if their home country has a commercial treaty with the US conferring visa eligibility.
Persons seeking to pursue a full course of study at a school in the United States may be eligible for a visa for the course of their study
K-1 Fiancee Visas
A Fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen is eligible for a non-immigrant visa conditioned on the conclusion of the marriage within 90 days.
Other areas of immigration include but is not limited to:
Refugee and Asylum Applications Persons with a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion may be eligible to apply for asylum or refugee status in the U.S.
Naturalization Applications After being a permanent resident for a certain number of years, you may apply to become a citizen of the United States.
Removal and Exclusion Matters
Representation in removal proceedings and obtaining the right form of relieve for you. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Persons may apply if they:
Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012; Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012; Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors.
The decision to file for bankruptcy is often one of the hardest choices that a person has to make in their lifetime. Poor planning can often make the process even harder. It goes without saying that filing for bankruptcy should be a last resort, and should only be done when all other methods of satisfying one's financial obligations have been exhausted. However, if your situation has become so severe that you are in danger of foreclosure, garnished wages or repossessions, or are facing debts that you are in no position to pay, putting off the inevitable can have devastating consequences. Procrastination can cost you your car, your wages, and even your home. Filing your case in a timely fashion can spare you these losses.
You may have more than one of these issues overlapping in your life and bankruptcy may be the best and most logical way to start your
financial life over.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy and the ‘defacto’ bankruptcy for most filers. You household income must be under the federal guidelines to qualify. Most consumers considering bankruptcy for their inability to pay their debt qualify base on the household income. You will have to disclose everything that you own and owe. We will evaluate your estate to ensure that can keep what you own while you can get rid of what you owe obtaining a ‘discharge’ in bankruptcy. This process usually last between 3 and 6 months.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy offers everything you can obtain from Chapter 7 and more. For example if the value of your home is less than what you owe in the first and principal mortgage you might be able to eliminate any other debt, even those attached to the property and keep your home with the first mortgage alone. A chapter 13 process usually last between 3 and 5 years, depending on your income.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is reserved for consumers owing more than a certain amount of secured debt and/or unsecured debt and business entities looking for a restructuration of their debt and payments while continuing to remain in business, something a Chapter 7 will not provide.
Abogados Law has experience in many areas that affect how your property will go through the bankruptcy court providing the bankruptcy client with a professionalism and representation that a firm that only does bankruptcy will miss.
Only a lawyer can provide bankruptcy advice and explain why it might be the best decision or not for your problems. Many will tell you to file bankruptcy but this is something that will be with you forever, even if the bankruptcy was not ‘finished’, you did filed bankruptcy and might have to explain in many future credit applications why. Make sure when you filed, you do it right and make it worth all the good it can do for you.
Abogados Law is an agency accredited by the United States Bankruptcy court to provide Bankruptcy advice and represent you in the Bankruptcy Courts in Virginia.