Author: Hoffman & Forde

When Do You Need a Real Estate Attorney?

Real estate can be tricky. Even the average home purchase can be overwhelming in the sheer number of details that must be attended to. For most people, real estate is the financial largest investment they’ll ever make. It is completely normal for something to come up that leaves you wondering whether you should hire a real estate lawyer. We’ll go over some of the common situations where it might be best to have professional legal help.

Buying or Selling a Home

One of the most frequently asked questions in this area is, “Do I need a real estate attorney to buy or sell a house?” Some states legally require that real estate transactions be reviewed by an attorney—California does not. Formal requirements aside, whether or not you need an attorney depends on the situation.

As an example, consider an ordinary house purchase. Both the buyer and seller have great real estate agents, the house is in good condition, there are no liens on the property, etc. Do you need a real estate lawyer in this situation? Probably not. Bear in mind, though, that as the value of the property goes up, or if you are from out of town/out of state, it becomes a better idea to hire an attorney just to make sure everything is in order.

It is definitely more advisable to use a real estate attorney if there are any non-standard issues surrounding the transaction. For buyers, these non-standard issues can include:

–        The home is owned by the bank

–        It’s being sold as part of an estate sale

–        There are tenants currently living on the property

–        The land is in a flood zone, tornado-prone area, etc.

For sellers, common issues include:

–        The home is part of a divorce settlement

–        It’s part of an estate of which you are the executor

–        A short sale (selling for less than you owe on the mortgage)

–        Liens on the property

–        Major physical damage to the property

The list could go on and on, but the key point is this: Anything out of the ordinary should drive you to reach out to an attorney and better understand what you’re getting into. Of course, many people would prefer to avoid the cost of hiring a lawyer, but when considered as a fraction of the total price of the home and how much trouble (and money) it can save you down the road, it’s really a minor expense.

Real Estate Disputes

Whether you are a homeowner, a renter, or an HOA director, there are a wide variety of legal disputes that can pop up and disrupt your life. These range from seller non-disclosure issues to prescriptive easements to property title claims. For anyone involved in a real estate dispute and whose home or property value is on the line, we recommend contacting an attorney immediately. Any delay could prejudice your case due to statutes of limitations and other filing deadlines.

Contact a San Diego Real Estate Attorney Today

If you’re asking yourself whether you need a real estate attorney, chances are you should at least sit down for a consultation. Contact our office today to set an appointment.

Real Estate Disputes

What You Need to Know About Real Estate Disputes

There are few areas of the law that touch on our emotions so deeply as real estate disputes. This is because they often lie at the intersection of two very important aspects of our lives: our homes and our personal finances. Though people may prefer to resolve them quickly and informally, the underlying issues can be complex and passions can flare up quickly. In these cases, the best option is usually to hire an experienced real estate dispute attorney.

Types of Real Estate Disputes

Here are a few of the most common legal disputes people encounter when it comes to real estate:

Purchase Disputes – These real estate contract disputes pop up after the deal has been signed, and sometimes well after the buyer has taken possession of the property. They often revolve around a claim that the seller misrepresented or failed to disclose a material fact. For example, the seller may have neglected to mention an environmental problem or other information that affects the value or use of the property.

Property Ownership Disputes – Sometimes multiple parties simultaneously claim ownership of a property. For example, one owner performs a survey of the boundaries of their property and subsequently claims that part of the neighbor’s home is actually on their land. In such a case, there may be little room for informal negotiation.

Nuisance Claims – One owner may claim that the actions of another are interfering with the reasonable use and enjoyment of their property. These can vary widely, from excessive noise to environmental pollution. For example, if a homeowner has a view of the ocean but a proposed construction project will block that view, the owner may seek to stop construction or receive compensation.

Homeowner Association (HOA) Disputes – HOA agreements can serve a variety of purposes, including obligating owners to maintain a certain level of care or appearance in order to keep nearby property values stable. Disputes often arise when an owner wishes to do something that is alleged to be prohibited by covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) or contests a special assessment against their property.

Landlord/Tenant Disputes – Both landlords and tenants commonly have claims against each other. These include nonpayment of rent, breach of lease agreement, and habitability issues (unhealthy conditions, failure to make repairs, etc.).

Resolving Real Estate Disputes

The best approach to real estate dispute resolution is to prevent the issues from coming up in the first place. Hiring a legal professional early in the process, such as during a real estate purchase, can help owners catch issues early and keep them from growing out of control.

Sometimes a dispute is unavoidable, though. In these cases, owners may wish to keep the case out of court through some sort of alternative dispute resolution like mediation. This approach has the advantages of being generally faster and less adversarial. Attorneys can fill the role of mediator and/or represent the parties in negotiations.

If a dispute requires litigation, all parties should have assistance of counsel. The factual and legal issues are likely to be complex, and too much is at stake to go it alone.

San Diego Real Estate Dispute Attorneys

If you are involved in a real estate dispute, our experienced attorneys can help you resolve the matter in a cost-effective manner. Schedule a consultation today.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Unpaid Wages?

If you have not received unpaid wages from your employer, it might take some time before you begin to notice. This is especially likely if you worked flexible hours at different rates and had variable paychecks. When you do discover the discrepancy, it is important to hire a lawyer for unpaid wages and begin to build your case.

Employers know there is a statute of limitations and will often try to drag negotiations out so that the time expires before you can be paid. The statute of limitations differs based on the circumstances, but the time ranges from one year to four years.

What Are California’s Statutes of Limitations?

In California, the state’s Department of Industrial Relations encourages workers to file claims in a timely manner. These are the time restrictions provided by the department for filing wage claims:

  • Within four years if you have a written contract
  • Within three years for violations related to overtime, minimum wage, meal breaks, unpaid rest, unpaid reimbursements and illegal deductions
  • Within two years if you received an oral promise to be paid more than the minimum wage
  • Within one year if you were charged penalties for a bounced check or if you did not receive access to your payroll records

Where Can Workers Get Information To Build a Case?

Before hiring an attorney for unpaid wages, it’s important to gather all the necessary information you can. If you are not sure what information you need, consider the following tips from the Department of Industrial Relations.

Track Your Paychecks

Most medium-to-large employers provide electronic access to your paystubs online. If you work for a smaller company, you might only receive a physical printout of your pay stub. Keep copies of this information. You might need them to show the money you received versus what you should have been paid. If you do not have access to this, check your bank account for checks cashed and direct deposit payments.

Add Up Hours Worked

Unless you are a salaried worker, how many hours you spent on the job will make a difference in your claim. Hours can determine not just whether you received the right total for each hour worked but also whether you qualify as a full-time worker or should receive any special benefits or bonuses.

Gather Employer Information

You need important information about the employer to file your claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. This includes the address and name of the company or individual. You should find this information on the paystub, product labels or mailing labels. If the names do not match or you are unable to find the information, write down your employer’s license plate number.

How Can Workers Choose the Right Lawyers for Their Cases?

When choosing an employment law attorney for unpaid wages, choose an experienced professional who is willing to go up against corporations. You also need professionals who are accustomed to cooperating with government agencies to complete your case.

At Hoffman & Forde Attorneys at Law, we are proud to provide cost-effective services to workers in Southern California. Schedule your consultation today.

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What You Need to Know About Business Legal Advisory Services

Business legal advisory services are a lot like preventative medicine:  people have a tendency to put them low on their list of priorities, but when a problem does arise everyone wishes they had done more to prevent it. At the heart of what a business advice lawyer does is prepare for worst case scenarios, and hopefully keep them from ever happening. 

Consider a few examples of how a business attorney can play a crucial role at different stages of your company’s lifetime.

Business Formation 

Whether you are starting a sole proprietorship, a corporation, or a nonprofit organization, the decisions you make at the formation and planning stage will have ramifications far into the future. It is critical to work closely with a business attorney throughout the process. 

The issues to be addressed here are numerous and diverse. Are your personal assets protected? How much control will investors have over the company? How can tax exposure be minimized?

Or take for example a partnership with two owners. The business starts out great, but over the years the situation changes. Personal relations become strained, the partners have differing visions for the company, or one of them simply wants out of the partnership. It’s important to have the assistance of a business advisory lawyer who can plan for these contingencies without pointing fingers. 

Contracts and Compliance

Your business is established and growing. Revenues are up, you have more employees, and maybe you’re thinking of expanding operations. You may not need in-house counsel, but you should definitely have your lawyer on speed dial by this point – someone who is already familiar with your business and can help keep things running smoothly.

As businesses grow, contracts tend to become more complicated. Rather than simply signing boilerplate agreements, now you may have more leverage to negotiate. Contract law is a jungle unto itself, however, and custom-tailored contracts require expertise to ensure you are covered in all situations. Contractual disputes can be similarly complex, and your business generally is best served by quickly handing them over to your attorney.

Compliance and liability issues also take on increased importance as the financial stakes go up. Anything from workplace accidents to digital security breaches can send a business reeling. An experienced attorney who is up to date on the latest changes in the law can help you establish best practices in order to prevent problems and keep your company protected when they arise. 

Succession

You’ve built the business from the ground up, but now you are ready to retire, or you want to establish what happens to the company if you die. Succession can be complicated and requires careful legal planning. A thorough valuation of the business is needed, as well as transfer instruments that will pass muster in court if necessary. Consulting with an attorney to create a clear succession plan helps ensure that your wishes are respected and the company can continue to thrive for years to come.

Consult a Business Attorney

Whatever stage your business is at, the attorneys at Hoffman & Forde are ready to provide comprehensive legal advisory services. Schedule a consultation today.

What to Look for in a San Diego Real Estate Litigation Lawyer

With different contracts involved in real estate transactions, it’s highly possible for homeowners and property owners & sellers to encounter litigation. Let’s take a look at common causes of real estate litigation and if you’re in San Diego, what to look for when hiring a lawyer to help with your case.

Common Causes of Real Estate Litigation

Real estate disputes and challenges can be caused by the following.  

Breach of Contract

In real estate transactions, typically two parties will have reached an agreement or contract which can include agreements with respect to purchase, sale, partnership, a lease or other agreements. When one or more parties fail to uphold their end of the contract, whether the agreement was oral or written, a lawsuit can arise. In a case claiming breach of contract, the plaintiff needs to prove that they have upheld their contractual duties, while the defendant has failed to perform the contract’s terms. The wronged party may receive compensation for the damages and losses they endured because of the breach.

Negligence or Breach of Duty

Real estate agents must provide buyers with what they need to make an informed decision regarding the purchase. By law, real estate agents are required to work to benefit the client and their best interests—this includes disclosing information relevant to the purchase and keeping client information confidential. Failure to fulfill due care and not taking appropriate action can lead to a lawsuit. 

Failure to Disclose Property Defects

Thorough inspection of a property is required to help buyers make an informed decision. In California, residential property sellers are required by law to disclose the property’s condition and defects. These include structural defects or even if a death occurred at the property within the last three years. Without thorough documentation and failure to disclose property defects to a potential buyer can lead to litigation.

Boundary Disputes

Another common cause of real estate challenges includes boundary disputes. This type of dispute may arise between neighbors and involve misunderstandings regarding property lines. One way to prevent or resolve boundary disputes is to order a survey which accurately reflects the boundary lines. In some cases the owners can resolve the dispute with a quiet title action, which asks the courts to determine the property’s boundary lines.

Choosing Your Real Estate Attorney

There are other real estate disputes that can arise and it’s best to be prepared in all cases. A real estate attorney can help you prevent these disputes. If you’re already facing litigation, it’s important to choose an attorney that has the expertise, creative approach, and cost-effective solutions you need. 

Experience & Expertise

Whether the property is commercial or residential, look for a real estate attorney or law firm that has the expertise to handle your case. As a boutique law firm, Hoffman & Forde has access not only to real estate attorneys but also a group of professionals across multiple industries. 

Creative Approach

While creativity may be the last thing you look for in an attorney, it’s important to recognize that each case will be unique and will then require a unique approach. Our accessible team at Hoffman & Forde does just that.

Cost-Effective Solutions

You’re already investing a considerable amount of time, money, energy, and other resources to secure your property. Choose a law firm that provides clients with the most cost-effective solutions possible. 

 

Your San Diego Real Estate Litigation Attorneys

Resolve your case effectively with our commercial and residential real estate attorneys at Hoffman & Forde. Schedule a consultation today to see how we can help.

Estate Planning Terms to Know

A Brief Glossary of Terms

As part of wise financial planning, estate planning is something everyone should consider even for those who do not have a lot of assets. To help get you get started, here are some common terms you may encounter.

Administration

Court-supervised process wherein the executor or representative collects and distributes an estate during probate. 

Assets

Property or anything that you own. This includes real estate, your home, investments, jewelry, and other valuables & collectibles.

Beneficiary

The beneficiary is the person or organization who receives the trust assets in the case of a living trust. 

Codicil 

An amendment to the terms of a will where no rewriting is necessary.

Deed

A deed is a physical document that declares your legal ownership of a property, and also allows you to transfer that property ownership to another person.

Durable Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated, durable power of attorney directs an individual of your choosing to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf.

Executor

Also called a personal representative, the executor is the person named in a will. They are appointed by court to administer the deceased’s estate. Females may be referred to as the “executrix.”

Fiduciary

Associated with trusts, fiduciary describes the relationship between the trustee and beneficiary. A fiduciary is also legally charged to act on behalf of another person or persons, taking care of their assets.

Grantor

The grantor is the creator of the trust. Also known as the settlor, donor, or trustor. 

Heir 

An heir is entitled by law to receive your property or asset if there is no will.  

Holographic Will

A document entirely handwritten and signed by the testator.

Irrevocable trust 

As the name suggests, this type of trust cannot be terminated, revoked, or amended by the grantor.

Joint tenancy 

This refers to equal joint ownership of a property by two or more persons, and creates a Right of Survivorship.  

Living Trust

A written legal document that creates an entity to which an individual transfers ownership of their assets. This document is created during the individual’s lifetime and is not subject to the public probate.

Marital Trust 

Also known as an “A” trust, this type of trust lets you transfer your assets tax free to your surviving spouse in the event of your death. 

Power of Attorney

This is a written authorization whereby one individual may act on behalf of another as an agent when it comes to legal and financial matters. Terminates upon the death of the person granting authority, unless “coupled with an interest.”

Probate

The legal process of authenticating a decedent’s will, taking inventory and appraising the estate, and distributing the assets according to the decedent’s last wishes. If there is no will, the process for probate remains the same. In this case, probate is still required to pay any outstanding bills and distribute the assets to the designated beneficiaries.

Revocable trust 

A revocable trust can be terminated, revoked, modified, or amended by the grantor.

Special Needs Trust 

This is a specialized trust that allows a disabled individual to supplement benefits the person with special needs may receive from government financial aid. 

Trust 

A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which a trustor gives another party (the trustee) the right to own and manage property for the beneficiary.

Will 

Wills take effect after your death and they lay out your final wishes for how to dispose of your property.

Your Southern California Estate Planning Attorneys

While this list is by no means extensive, we hope that these terms piqued your interest when it comes to estate planning. More importantly, we encourage you not to wait until you are ill or incapacitated to prepare your loved ones for the future. To help you factor in all outcomes and for solid legal advice, our experienced Southern California estate planning attorneys at Hoffman & Forde are here to help.

When you invest resources towards estate planning, you’re investing in peace of mind. Our boutique law firm has experts across disciplines and relevant industries to make sure all your bases are covered. We tailor your estate plan to you and your goals with our creative solutions and collaborative approach. Call us today for a consultation.

What is Administrative Law?

There is no universally accepted definition of administrative law, but rationally it may be held to cover the organization, powers, duties, and functions of public authorities of all kinds engaged in administration; their relations with one another and with citizens and nongovernmental bodies; legal methods of controlling public administration; and the rights and liabilities of officials. 

 

Administrative law is to a large extent complemented by constitutional law, and the line between them is hard to draw. The organization of a national legislature, the structure of the courts, the characteristics of a cabinet, and the role of the head of state are generally regarded as matters of constitutional law, whereas the substantive and procedural provisions relating to central and local governments and judicial review of administration are reckoned matters of administrative law. But some matters cannot be exclusively assigned to either administrative or constitutional law.

 

In the United States, administrative law (or regulatory law) is a branch of public law that applies to federal as well as independent agencies. Administrative federal law defines the duties and responsibilities of executive branch agencies and independent agencies; when the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of federal government are unable to directly carry out their constitutional duties, federal- and state-level government bodies issue directives to monitor activities in complex areas.

 

In California, “[t]he Office of Administrative Law (OAL) ensures that agency regulations are clear, necessary, legally valid, and available to the public. OAL is responsible for reviewing administrative regulations proposed by over 200 state agencies for compliance with the standards set forth in California’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA), for transmitting these regulations to the Secretary of State and for publishing regulations in the California Code of Regulations.”

Administrative Procedure Act

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) enacted June 11, 1946, is the United States federal statute that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations and grants U.S. federal courts oversight over all agency actions. It is one of the most important pieces of United States administrative law, and serves as a sort of “constitution” for U.S. administrative law.

Hoffman & Forde’s Administrative Law Firm Services

Our team of attorneys are experienced defending professionals from malpractice claims, regulatory complaints and licensing board hearings in California. Our attorneys bring years of success to administrative and professional licensing law having represented every kind of licensed professional including medical personnel, real estate agents & brokers, accountants, engineers, contractors, social workers, insurance brokers, and fiduciaries. Business owners & managers are subject to the influence of government and the law in the workplace. When facing reproval, penalties, fines, probation, suspension, revocation or even a lifetime ban trust our attorneys to defend your license and your livelihood.

Your Southern California Administrative Law Attorneys

At Hoffman & Forde, our attorneys are experienced California administrative law attorneys, and we defend licensed professionals and businesses before the Medical Board, Department of Insurance, Department of Real Estate and other California licensing agencies. We have many years of administrative hearing experience before the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), as well as license defense experience in other administrative law forums.

As a boutique law firm, we have experts across disciplines and relevant industries. With our creative solutions, your estate plan will be tailored to you and your goals. Invest in legal advice and set up your family for the future for peace of mind. Call us today for a consultation.

What to Look for When Hiring a Business Attorney

Business owners may not always have hiring an attorney at the forefront of their minds. But legal counsel doesn’t just apply to litigation or when your business is already well-established. In fact, it would prove beneficial to consult with a business attorney even before starting your enterprise. This way, you can avoid legal troubles down the road and especially if you’re a first-time business owner. Here are some things for you to consider when hiring a business attorney.

Experience

Check how long your potential attorney and law firm have been practicing. But in addition to the number of years in their particular practice area, are they also experts in their field?  Look for proven success as you review their track record.

Proven Success

Here are a couple questions for business owners to consider: What kinds of businesses have they helped and in what capacity? What is their track record based on available testimonials? Your business attorney should have a firm understanding of the differences between small business needs and large corporations, and have demonstrated success in serving different types of businesses.

Legal Specialties

Choose an attorney that specializes in business law but consider the firm that the attorney’s a part of. Boutique firms (such as Hoffman & Forde) have access to legal professionals that specialize in other relevant fields that are beneficial to business owners.

Pricing

Find out if your attorney provides clients with a sensible billing structure that ensures there are no unnecessary fees or surprises.

Accessibility

Is the attorney an effective communicator and do you have access to their legal team? Choosing a business attorney that is accessible, compassionate, and communicates well makes a big difference. Accessibility demonstrates dedication to clients. 

How Our Southern California Law Firm Helps Businesses

Whether you’re considering pursuing a startup or already have a business that’s pivoting, our Southern California law firm strategically advises our clients on all stages of a business’ cycle, from formation to succession. Your business may opt to retain us to serve as if we are their in-house general counsel or as consultants during the formation phase.

Entity Formation & Planning

 Hoffman & Forde is engaged in all aspects of our clients’ business formation and development, from conception through liquidity. We provide business and legal guidance to clients through all stages of development, from initial incorporation, to seed and angel investments, venture capital debt and equity financing, strategic investments, and more.

Contracts

Contracts are key to any business. Our business consulting law firm has extensive experience in drafting tailored contracts to meet our clients’ needs, including terms and conditions, distribution agreements, customer contracts and non-disclosure agreements, breach of contracts, and more. If you need assistance with contracts, we can help.

Corporate Governance

Our business attorneys help clients develop and implement corporate governance policies and procedures, including employment policies, to foster best practices and to help meet clients’ obligations under applicable law. With policies changing more frequently because of coronavirus, employers need to be even more aware of their legal rights and responsibilities.

Consulting

We counsel employers on regulatory, legal, and human resources issues to ensure compliance with employment laws. We also help our clients establish policies, procedures, and guidelines essential to their businesses. At Hoffman & Forde, we help business owners keep up with their legal requirements and duties, and provide superior legal advice and planning. Learn more about our business consulting practice or contact our business attorneys for a complimentary consultation today.

San Diego Commercial Tenant Attorneys: What To Look For

2020 has brought with it a range of legal issues in the commercial real estate space. Commercial tenant conflicts, while common, have become more prevalent and can take many different forms. That’s why more than ever, connecting with a top-of-the-line commercial tenant attorney in San Diego has never been more important. Savvy clients can prevent conflict before it occurs, or reach mutual agreement with proper legal counsel. Here’s what to expect from a good commercial tenant attorney.

Experience With A Range of Situations

An experienced commercial tenant attorney is able to represent tenants in all kinds of important ways. Whether they’re facing unlawful evictions, rent payment problems, or claims of breach of lease agreement issues, this kind of attorney can navigate nuances with skill. They should also be able to help with drafting leases and working through safety and health issues, code compliance, rental discrimination, and more.

Knowledge of California Laws Helps Businesses

Every state has its own commercial tenant laws. That’s why California business owners need local legal counsel with the knowhow to navigate these laws. When rent increases without warning, eviction looms, or there are issues with maintaining the space, businesses could fall into some unfavorable situations if they aren’t careful. A good San Diego commercial tenant attorney can help before signing a lease and after.

Foresight and Resolve

A good commercial tenant attorney can offer legal counsel at the first sign of trouble to avoid litigation. However, they can also be aggressive when needed and won’t hesitate to go to court if necessary. These attorneys look out for their client’s best interest at all times.

Choose Our Commercial Tenant Attorneys 

At Hoffman & Forde, we know that not all cases are the same. But we’re experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to California laws for business owners. We put clients first and provide creative solutions that best fit your case. As a boutique lawyer, you get the specialized skills of our commercial tenant attorneys and legal counsel across related disciplines. Our five-star reviews also attest to our firm’s professionalism and dedication to our clients’ success. Call us today to find out more about our comprehensive legal services and how we can help.

Best Probate Attorney in San Diego

Losing a loved one is difficult enough, much less dealing with probate issues. If you are facing probate concerns or disputes, lean on the legal experts at Hoffman & Forde. Find out why we’re some of the best probate attorneys in San Diego in this post.

What Is Probate?

In short, probate is the legal process of dispersing a person’s estate after their death. It involves taking inventory, appraisal, and distribution according to the last wishes of the deceased. But if there is no will, the probate process is still required to pay outstanding bills and distribute assets to designated beneficiaries.

Of course, probate court can be a tricky matter involving contentious disputes, relationship strains, and financial stress. But sometimes probate is necessary to settle disputes between heirs, especially since not everyone has the luxury of estate planning with an attorney beforehand. But with the risk of high costs and a prolonged process in court that could take anywhere from months to several years, it’s important to choose a probate attorney who has the experience and expertise to guide you into a favorable result.

Hoffman & Forde: Top Probate Attorneys

Hoffman & Forde is known for excellence across a range of practice areas, and probate is no exception. We work hard to make sure that issues are resolved as quickly as possible, bills and debts are settled, and the estate is distributed accordingly.

Why trust us with your probate concerns?

  • We’re knowledgeable of the complexities of probate disputes and estate administration
  • We have years of experience under our belt with utmost client satisfaction
  • We prioritize listening to your goals and offering practical solutions
  • We pride ourselves on dedication and honest communication with clients
  • We keep fees cost-effective while still providing undivided attention and top service

Secure One Of The Best Probate Lawyers In San Diego

Don’t leave anything to chance. When you need a top probate attorney in San Diego, Los Angeles, or throughout Southern California, Hoffman & Forde is here to provide quality representation.

Contact our probate law firm today and give yourself peace of mind in difficult times.