Estate planning

For some people, probating an estate can be a waste of time and money. Probating an estate means you died owning property that didn’t automatically pass to someone on your death. It means that you have to file a bunch of paperwork, pay filing fees, legal fees and publication fees to prove the Will and/or heirs and beneficiaries to properly pass your assets to those that are entitled to them under your Will or by law. Some people don’t realize that there is nothing to probate if all your assets are jointly held, in Trust or otherwise have beneficiaries. Sometimes, a Will is merely your backup plan. It is imperative to look at every asset you have and ask what will happen to that asset upon your death. If you have a joint owner, unless it is an account of convenience, the assets automatically pass to the joint owner. If you have an IRA, the beneficiaries automatically inherit the IRA. You can also designate who should receive certain accounts upon your death. For some people, the best estate when you die, is having no “estate” per se.

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Review of Berkshire County attorney from AARP member

Andre Vankov via AARP
Rating: 5 stars
Thursday, June 15, 2017
It has been a positive experience working with Gail Garret. She has been very helpful representing us as real estate buyers. Professional, responsive, right to a point without any extra words or time. She has low overhead that translates to a very reasonable pricing for the amount of work performed. After dealing with a few attorneys in the Berkshires she is the best in our books. We highly recommend her.

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The true measure of a man is how he exercises the power given him

Empower me
to be a bold participant,
rather than a timid saint in waiting,
in the difficult ordinariness of now;
to exercise the authority of honesty,
rather than to defer to power,
or deceive to get it;
to influence someone for justice,
rather than impress anyone for gain;
and, by grace, to find treasures
of joy, of friendship, of peace
hidden in the fields of the daily
you give me to plow

Ted Loder

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Beware at real estate closing for Cybercriminals

Historically, June 30 is the busiest closing day of the year!
Cybercriminals love Fridays and this one will be especially tempting for two reasons!
1. You’re busy! Will you stop to thoroughly review an email/fax with a change in wiring instructions?
2. Due to the holiday weekend, any misdirected wires sent today may go unnoticed until July 5 – providing criminals additional time to move funds.
Be aware of any last-minute wire changes! Call your customers first to confirm the change. If you’re not sure what to do, call us before wiring!
Please forward this alert to anyone that you think may benefit from this information.

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Title 5, repairs and selling your home

So you are selling your home, and you are discussing with your realtor what the listing price will be. Be sure to discuss your bottom line and what your position is on repairs which may be requested by the Buyer as a result of their inspection, and especially any costs associated with repair or replacement of your septic system. Buyers frequently come back to the Seller after their inspector has gone through the house and ask that certain repairs be made by Sellers before closing. Think about how much you might be willing to spend to keep the deal at that price. Be realistic about the condition of your home and whether it complies with current codes. Beyond that, often the biggest item affecting sale and price is the condition of your septic system. If the system fails inspection and a new system needs to be installed, the cost can be significant and put a big dent in the funds you thought you would be walking away with. Your listing price should take into consideration who will be paying for repairs, particularly septic repair or replacement or whether the property is being sold “as is”.

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Work proceeds on Broadband

News from the Berkshire Eagle February, 2017:

Mount Washington

STATUS: The town is proceeding on schedule to build a fiber-to-the-home municipally owned network. Late in 2016, NextGen Telecom Services Group began to put underground wires in conduits for the network. The company will finish that work in the spring. National Grid and Verizon have given the town bills for expected makeready work on poles. Verizon expects to finish that work in May. CURRENT INTERNET OPTIONS: Satellite (Hughes Net or Exede), fixed wireless ( WiSpring)CONSTRUCTION ALLOCATION: $230,000POPULATION: 167 WHAT BORROWING APPROVED, IF ANY:

Up to $450,000

QUOTE: “My only goal was to keep the budget down and not spend unnecessarily,” said Gail Garrett, selectwoman and town clerk.

CLOSER LOOK: Mount Washington is building a broadband network to call its own — and not a moment too soon.

“We have no bodies. I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Garrett. “Realtors are telling me that if they tell somebody they don’t have high-speed internet in a home, they’re not buying it.”

NextGen has up to three months to complete the system after National Grid and Verizon finish make-ready on the poles to accommodate the network. The town will manage the network through the Select Board. The town will utilize MBI construction grant funding and its own borrowing — up to $450,000 — to pay for the network, which will only extend toward those homes that have opted into the network, although the network could be expanded to accommodate new users in the future. Garrett anticipates the town will need to borrow only about $270,000.

Garrett set the monthly price for both internet and phone service — $119.95, based on the funds needed to maintain the system. Garrett said she hopes the network will be up and running in May.

“It was years and years of dial-up and this and that,” she said.

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A review from a client, despite Yelp’s opinion

I hate having to market myself, but I know I have to make people aware that I am here, what I do, how well I do it and how reasonable my rates are.  I also have to combat  my nature as an introvert.  I asked a client recently to write a review of my service on Yelp.  Well, that apparently isn’t as easy as it sounds.  My client appeared to be on Yelp, that is why I asked.  He wrote a review, but it didn’t appear on my profile.  I thanked him for his effort.  Frustration caused him to give it another try.  He thought he needed a Yelp account to post a review, so he set one up.  He posted again.  Still no review on my profile.  Well, after some research, apparently Yelp didn’t feel my client’s recent experience using my service should be used.  Apparently their program weeded it out.  Well, the effort was a waste for the most part, which is unfortunate.  My client wasted his time, his opinion was ignored; I was denied evidence of my reliability and efficiency, and probably because my client isn’t one of those people out there constantly posting and building his own Yelp page.

Well, it wasn’t good enough for Yelp, but I reproduce it here for anyone wanting an opinion from another person using my service:

“We recently chose to sell our vacation house near Great Barrington and were referred to Ms. Garrett to serve as our lawyer throughout the process. I can only say that she made this both as easy and profitable as we could have imagined. She named a most reasonable fee at the outset and despite the many unanticipated hitches that inevitably arise in such a transaction, she never complained or asked for more money. Also, a frequent complaint about lawyers is that they never are available or accessible, but Ms. Garrett was always quick to respond–by e-mail or phone–to all our queries and concerns. She even forwarded any relevant e-mails between herself and the buyers and their lawyer so that we always knew what was going on. So yes, we can most heartily and sincerely recommend Gail Garrett as a lawyer.”

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Efficient real estate legal services

It is great to be appreciated for good work….here is a recent comment from a client:

Gail, You have been terrific, thanks very much. Tim mentioned you run the most efficient and friction-free real estate legal services in the area, and we believe it!

My only regret is that due to distances and efficiency we didn’t get to say hello in person for old times’ sake.

Have a wonderful holiday!

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Mount Washington Broadband

When Town budgets are soaring, taxes rising, locals moving out…it is a great sense of accomplishment to try to beat back unnecessary spending in Town.  I spent many many hours working on the Town Broadband project.   Hope things move forward and work as planned.  This is my podcast on the subject:

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High Speed Internet coming to Mt. Washington MA

Sometimes you need to toot your own horn. I am so so proud of the work I have done for the last two years on the Town of Mt. Washington Broadband plan. Most recently, I spent hours and hours on all the bid documents, advertising and bidding process, including touring contractors and responding to questions. I wrote the Town’s Broadband Plan and worked long and hard to beat back the cost and insure that the plan is as financially viable as possible.

What started as a 1.2 million dollar cost has been substantially reduced and shouldn’t exceed $700,000. I eliminated areas where service was not needed-i.e. where there were no “takers”, saving on costs of construction and annual pole application and rental fees and maintenance. I eliminated all homes that were not willing to pay for service at the going rate year round. Approximately 60 homes did not want service and/or were not willing to pay for service year round at the going rate. The Town would have paid for installations and maintenance for nothing for uncertain periods. There are homes in Town that are merely weekend retreats and summer escapes There are hunting cabins, unused buildings, a church, an abandoned school house all of which did not need service and where installation would be a waste. There were people who just don’t want or need internet. All these buildings were eliminated from the broadband plans, saving substantially. Also eliminated was a two mile stretch for only one subscriber and where the cost of installation would have been extraordinary (almost $100,000).

From day one, I was concerned about the budget and did not believe the Town would vote for a 1.2 million dollar cost. I did not want to see the Town spend unnecessarily and wanted to make sure the project was viable so that later we would not suffer increased taxes. I knew broadband would be built, I too want it, but I wanted to make sure we did not spend unnecessarily.

Part of insuring the plan is viable was making sure we had committed subscribers at the right price and for as long as possible. I advocated for deposits and agreements to pay for service. This had to be tempered so as not to discourage subscribers as subscribers are essential to carry the cost of the system.

Thanks to narrowing our scope, reducing costs, obtaining funds from subscribers, obtaining agreements of subscribers, putting a construction agreement in place with a reputable contractor and putting together our Plan, the Town received a grant from the State for $230,000 to assist in the construction and we are on our way to constructing high speed internet in Mt. Washington.

Work has begun with pole agreements and applications to National Grid and Verizon for approval to use their poles for the wiring, to determine what, if any, upgrades will be required to do so and at what cost.

Hope all goes as planned!

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