I. ALL NEW CLIENTS & ALL NEW MATTERS
So that I can open your file ahead of time, and be ready to serve you when you arrive, please:
- New Clients or New Matters:
Print out, complete, sign and return these two forms: NewClient-Worksheet and FeeSchedule
- Description of Services, Documents & Forms:
In all cases, also do the following:
- find the type of services you desire in the Outline below,
- then read that section in the Narrative below;
- then printout and follow the related documents and forms (which are listed both in the Outline and in the Full Description).
II. SERVICES & FORMS OUTLINE
- SPECIAL REAL ESTATE MATTERS:
(pertinent to Splitting of Natural Desert Ground):
- My Multiple Roles & How Best to Use Me: -- MyRoles
- Well Sharing Agreements: -- Shared Wells-Information, Shared Wells-CountyInformation
- Lot-Splitting: -- LotSplit-Memo and LotSplit-Chart
- Access: -- Access-Memo
- OTHER/GENERAL REAL ESTATE MATTERS:
- LANDLORD & TENANT:
- FORMATION OF LLCs: -- LLC-Overview, LLC-TaxIssues, & LLC-Worksheet
- CONSTRUCTION MATTERS:
- WILLS & POWERS OF ATTY: -- Wills-CoverLetter & Wills-Worksheet
III. SERVICES & FORMS NARRATIVE
A. SPECIAL REAL ESTATE MATTERS:(pertinent to Splitting of Natural Desert Ground)
- My Multiple Roles & How Best to Use Me: If you intend to purchase and downsplit land, please take note of an efficient sequence you can use to optimize my services and reduce the fees that I then charge you:
- Contract Negotiation. Because there are a handful of issues I deal with through language in the contract, the best time to start with me is when you have located ground you really find desirable but have not signed the contract yet. (Otherwise, I suggest that you put a provision in your offer/contract that allows you a few days for me to review the contract itself.) This is normally not extensive or expensive work by me, and is an optimal time for our first visit when I can help you lay out a road map with an efficient route for what else lies ahead of you.
- During Escrow. There are also a few issues that I will tend to during escrow, such as evaluation of the title report, the backup documents, and legal access. Again my involvement here is not extensive or expensive, but well worth it.
- After Closing. After you have closed escrow, (or during escrow if you want to get started early), I will show you what to have your surveyor provide you in terms of surveys and legal descriptions. I will then take his work product and proceed to produce the recordable legal documents you will need in two subsequent phases:
- Lot Split Deeds. I will first prepare the lot split deeds needed to split your land, and show you how to quickly and get new assessor's parcel numbers.
- Other Primary Documents. With the new legal descriptions and parcel numbers in hand, I will then prepare documents that are tailor made to fit your ground, including: Well Sharing Agreements, Easements (for shared access, maintenance, etc.), and/or Deed Restrictions you may need, including CC&Rs. These will then show on the title reports for the lots you then develop and/or sell, and actually help you market that ground and add value to it.
- Well Sharing Agreements:
My hourly rate is $300, but I charge a minimum/flat fee of $1,500.00 for preparation of a well sharing agreement, and, if you come to me at the outset of your project, or as soon as you realize you should do so, I will also give a package price for the other primary documents, and will give you my best price if you follow the efficient sequence that I have described above.
As one of my most frequent services, I have been preparing Well Sharing Agreements for use in the natural desert areas around the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 16 years now, and I may, I fact, prepare more of them than any attorney in Arizona. I have been able to consistently improve my forms and to keep my charges down to a $1,500 fixed price for the normal situation.
If that is all you need, after filling out the appropriate forms on the New Clients & Matters page, print out and read through the handout called Shared Wells-Information. It discusses the threshold considerations that could invoke the involvement of one of four state agencies, but few of my clients step over any of these thresholds for normal domestic wells that are shared by only a handful of homes.
The last page will describe the homework you need to complete for our first meeting. When you have assembled the information it describes, call my office to schedule our first meeting. I can normally get you in for that first meeting within a few days, and have the agreement ready for you within a few days after that.
The handout called Shared Wells-CountyInformation considers related well sharing issues that will apply in Maricopa County, and may apply elsewhere as well.
The complex rules for legally splitting and/or subdividing Arizona ground need special attention, particularly if the land you purchase can be split into either:(a.) 6 or more parcels if it lies in the county, or (b.) 4 or more parcels if it lies within a city or town. Here again, it is better to come to me while still negotiating for the ground, or, at least, while you have it in escrow. But I will work with you at any time to answer questions, and give you particular guidance in this area. I will work at an hourly rate, but this should not take a great deal of time.
Again, since there is no requirement that ground outside of a formal subdivision have legal access or drivable physical access from the parcel in question to the dedicated roadway system, you can easily buy natural desert ground that is legally or effectively land-locked. This will substantially diminish the value of your ground and substantially increase the difficulty and time for you to sell it. And the problems become more intense as the access passes through undeveloped ground, particularly as the topography becomes more intense in the foothills or other hillside development areas.
As a result, more than preparation of documents like well sharing agreements, easements and deed restrictions, the largest amount of my practice is devoted to analyzing with legal and physical access, and working the close any gaps in that access.
The best time for me to analyze such access is during escrow, and it is wise, even if you don't include me in the contract negotiations, to include conditions in your contract that allow you to: (a.) investigate the legal and physical access to the ground, and (b.) have the title company, as part of your title policy, insure legal access over an acceptable route.
My work on closing gaps in legal and physical access will often include me sending out special quiet title notices, demands and forms that will help you: (i.) determine if litigation is necessary to close the gap in the access, and (b.) increase the chances of you recouping your legal fees if it is. In litigation is necessary, I will help you transfer the matter to a litigation attorney who is happy to take a case that is so well researched and otherwise prepared, and to have me on hand as a consultant during the litigation process.
This is also an area where I am often used as a consultant by other attorneys, whether or not the matter has yet gone into litigation; so don't hesitate to ask about me doing so if you already have counsel, but feel that he/she can use help on the access issues.
B. OTHER/GENERAL REAL ESTATE MATTERS:
As my resume indicates, I began as a commercial litigator, and then spent most of the '80s working in the Arizona real estate development and construction industry. So I remain able and willing to work with you on real estate matters beyond the special issued pertaining to development of land in the natural desert described above and the Landlord/Tenant matters described below. (back to top)
C. LANDLORD & TENANT:
- Commercial Leases:
- Residential Leases:
Since my role I the early '80s as house counsel and retail property manager for a substantial shopping center developer/contractor, I have had substantial experience around commercial leases in retail, office and industrial settings, and I also work on the complex reciprocal easement agreements and CC&Rs that are used in such settings.
If you are a commercial landlord, I can: (a.) set you up with good lease forms that you can use over and over, and (b.) help you analyze situations that come up with your commercial tenants.
If you are a commercial tenant, I can and should review the landlord's form of lease before you ever sign it. In a normal situation, after one pass through a commercial lease, I can give you a very good idea as to the revisions that are necessary or appropriate, the amount of work it will take to present them to the other side, and the best way to make the other side accept them. The entire effort is well worth it when you consider that, for the normal retailer in America, the commercial lease, is its biggest undertaking, and, while the forms are somewhat standardized, there is a very wide range of provisions that landlords will include, and there are few laws protecting the tenant who does not negotiate to remove the unacceptable ones.
Arizona was the first state in the union to adopt the Uniform Residential Landlord & Tenant Act, thereby codifying in great detail an area that previously had little definitive law. The resulting Arizona Residential Landlord & Tenant Act (ARLTA) is readily available on the website of the Arizona Secretary of State -- http://www.azsos.gov/, and is what you should locate, copy and review if you are either: (a.) a residential landlord who intends to rent your property or has problems with an existing tenant, or (b.) a residential tenant with a problem with your landlord.
Because ARLTA fills in so much detail for the residential landlord and tenant, I provide at no expense a simple 2-page form of residential lease that covers the minimum points you must agree to, called: ResidentialLease.
Residential landlord/tenant disputes are difficult for me to efficiently handle because of the economic limitations. The best way for you to use me is to call to make sure I have not conflict and make and appointment, and then come for a single consultation after you have done two things: (a.) written down a detailed chronology of the events in question with copies of all pertinent documents, and (b.) read through the applicable provisions of ARLTA. I will then help you prepare and send any necessary notices or other forms. If litigation then becomes necessary, I will coach you on what to do on your own in Justice Court, or help you find a lawyer to help you in Superior Court if the matter must go there instead.(back to top)
D. LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES -- LLC's:
The Limited Liability Company = L.L.C. = LLC is the ideal vehicle for a modern venture with a small number of people who are not going public (i.e. into the stock market) to raise capital because, because it offers them the following benefits:
- An LLC has the liability protection of a corporation -- its owners (called members) are not personally liable for the debts of the LLC.
- An LLC has the operational simplicity of a partnership -- it is governed by an Operating Agreement between its members, which is like a normal joint venture or partnership agreement; so these members actually treat one another as partners. In addition, a single person can now form an LLC.
- An LLC has the tax treatment of a partnership its members get K-1 tax returns; so they avoid the double taxation that happens to shareholders in a normal C corporation. In addition, many persons are now opting to be taxed as a corporation, but then also making a Subchapter-S election, and thereby receiving benefits that are given to corporations, but still having their income taxed on a pass-through status like a partnership.
- An LLC can be structured for either uniform or centralized management it can be 'member-managed' where all of its members share in the decision making process, (like general partnership), or it can be manager-managed where most management is left to one or more of the members and/or an outside party, (somewhat like a limited partnership).
Formation of the LLC:
An LLC can be formed quickly, particularly if you have your Accountant/Tax Advisor work with me to discuss the choice of an LLC, and review my work. This is my normal process:
- Print out the three LLC documents: LLC-Overview, LLC-TaxIssues, LLC-Worksheet.
- Review these forms yourself, but also take them to your Accountant/Tax Advisor to:
- Make sure that an LLC fits your requirements;
- Decide whether the LLC will be managed by its members, or managed by one or more members or even other parties;
- Help you fill out the blanks on the LLC-Worksheet form; and
- Discuss additional information and needs which are specific to your business.
- Then, when you have filled out the blanks on the LLC-Worksheet form, and returned it to me with a NewClient-Worksheet, I can produce a draft of the Articles of Organization and Operating Agreement which you may either review with your Accountant/Tax Advisor before proceeding to final form, or proceed straight to filing the Articles if you feel comfortable.
My flat fee of $750.00 includes all: office time, document preparation, and expedited filing and publication fees (around $250.00), but does not include time for special additional agreements between members if you need them (e.g., shareholder agreements within a corporation), or for obtaining an EIN number. (back to top)
E. CONSTRUCTION MATTERS:
As my resume indicates, I began my legal experience as a commercial litigator, including construction litigation, and have continued to work around construction ever since, including the formation in the late '80s of a business that prepared 20 day pre-liens and related construction notices and forms.
Therefore, while I will not litigate construction matters, I often assist construction clients with a fast analysis of their construction issues, particularly pay issues as they arise, and will both: (a.) recommend notices and procedures that contractors can follow on their own, and/or (b.) refer them to capable construction litigators if and when that is necessary.
In addition, I help contractors negotiate complex contracts and build contract forms that they can reuse again and again in the future. (back to top)
F. LAST WILL & TESTAMENT, LIVING WILLS, & POWERS OF ATTORNEY:
The attached document entitled: Wills-CoverLetter explains how these 4 forms generally work:
Last Will & Testament, General Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Medical Power of Attorney.
The Last Will & Testament is the device whereby you leave instructions for passing out your assets after you die (if they are not held in a fashion where the automatically pass at your death). It has a number of provisions that are optional, but worth considering. They are marked (optional) on the worksheet.
The General Power of Attorney gives a trusted person power to sign documents and take other legal steps for you while you are alive, even if you are incapacitated.
The Living Will needs only for you to identify the persons who have the authority to pull the plug or refuse costly medical heroics if you are so seriously ill or injured that your return to functional health is not possible.
The Medical Power of Attorney gives a trusted person power to sign medical documents and take other medical steps for you while you are alive, even if you are incapacitated.
If you do wish for me to prepare my standard package of these 4 related forms, then please print out and complete the two documents you find on my website entitled: NewClient-Worksheet and Wills-Worksheet. Then send them to my office, and call my office to set up an appointment when you can come in and review, revise and sign the final documents.
Because sending this information ahead of time helps reduce my overall work time and allows me to produce a rough draft before you arrive, I will agree to charge you at my minimum price of $500 for the 4 forms (or $700 for a pair of the documents for a husband and wife) if you do so.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not an estate planning lawyer, and generally this group of 4 forms only for clients who are of modest means, or are otherwise clear that they do not need the services of an estate planning attorney and that these forms fit their economic situation. If instead you have a sizable estate and want to make certain that you avoid significant estate tax consequences and possibly even the entire probate process, please let me know and I will instead refer you to estate planning lawyers in Cave Creek, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sun City, etc. (back to top)