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San Jose, CA property tax assessment attorneyIn the face of receiving dramatic annual increases in property tax bills, in 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, which has limited the rate of property tax increases for the past 40 years, so long as certain criteria are met. 

About Prop. 13

Prop. 13 limits property tax increases to 1 percent of the property’s assessed value. Assessed value cannot be increased more than 2 percent per year. Prop. 13 also provides that property taxes may include any bond payments or special assessments as approved by voters. All special assessments must receive a two-thirds vote. Importantly, a key provision of Prop. 13 for tax planning purposes is that properties will only be reassessed after an ownership transfer or if substantial improvements have been made to the property.

Efforts to Change Prop. 13

Recently, the voters of California rejected an effort to expand protections for property owners as set forth in Proposition 5. Prop. 5 would have allowed some homeowners to take lower property taxes with them when moving.

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San Jose property tax attorney, California property tax, property taxes and liens, back property taxes, public auctionIf you do not pay your property taxes on your home, you risk having your home sold at a tax sale. However, this consequence does not happen immediately, and the government must take multiple steps in order for your home to be sold.

There are a number of actions you can take if you have fallen behind on your property taxes, including speaking with a knowledgeable California property tax attorney.

The most important factor to keep in mind is that your home cannot be sold within five years of the delinquency. You have five years to pay the back amount or enter into a payment plan.

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As the foreclosure bubble wheezes out its last bit of hot air, the courts and tax collectors are no longer borrower friendly or sympathetic in regards to hardships and distressed markets. The dockets are backlogged and the various tax administrations are seeking relief for the debts owed and collateralized by real property.

Asset managers will advise borrowers to work with their attorneys and attempt to mitigate the loss as much as possible. Alternative methods include escrow analysis, loan modifications, repayment agreements, Short Sales, and the Deed in Lieu.

In cases of default each circumstance warrants individual review. If the loan has only been deemed as " nonperforming " for a short time, an escrow analysis should be conducted to evaluate any surplus or shortage being held for the payment of taxes and/or insurance. These funds can be recalculated or reapplied when restructuring the loan. A loan modification or repayment agreement is ideal for this type of defaulted borrower. Being proactive about the situation and working diligently to become current on the payments goes a long way with your lender, while sheltering you from litigation and credit risk.

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Tagged in: Real Estate

Sometimes people balk at paying lawyers to do what they think they can do for themselves. What could be simpler than a will, if you are just leaving everything to your family? All you have to do is name an executor. Two or three sentences, one page, and you are done . Right? Maybe not.

Ethel Hinz died in 1992 with an estate of over $10 million. She left a handwritten will. Her estate still has not been settled after 24 years.

The will was only a few sentences. Ethel named her son executor, describing him as her "sole heir," and saying she trusted he would "subscribe to my wishes, along lines that were discussed previously and privately in the past." Ethel wrote the will just a few days after her daughter had died, survived by two granddaughters, who would of course also be "heirs" if Ethel had not written a will.

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Tagged in: Estate Planning Wills

When you're getting ready to buy a home, you may hear terms thrown at you such as "title" and "property deed", and wonder what the difference between the two are. In real estate law, the title is a legal term that means ownership, while the property deed is the document that transfers the title from one party to another.

In regards to the title, it may be partial or full, meaning that other parties could have rights to the property, including the right to access the property, use it and transfer it either in whole or in part to another party. People can take title to a piece of property in many different forms, including joint ownership and tenants by the entirety.

The property deed is the legal document that transfers the title between parties. Under the Statute of Fraud, the deed must be in written form in order to be enforceable. The deed is filed with the official registrar of deeds in the municipality the property is located in . Deeds are also issued in other circumstances when the property is transferred , such as an executor's deed, which is issued by the executor of an estate selling property owned by the estate, or a tax deed, where the property is sold for the payment of unpaid taxes.

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Tagged in: Real Estate
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