North Carolina Small Estate Administration

“Small Estate Administration “may be an option for small estates, both testate (with a Will) or intestate (without a will).  For eligible estates this allows the heirs to receive the property to which they are entitled under the Will or the Intestate laws of North Carolina with an abbreviated proceeding known as “Collection by Affidavit.” It is simpler, easier and a less expensive method. In order to qualify for this proceeding, the North Carolina estate must be valued at less than $20,000.00 ($30,000.00 if the sole heir is the surviving spouse). Thirty (30) days must have passed since the date … Continue reading

When is the best time for beneficiaries to Inherit?

Often times when I discuss drafting a Will for a client, we talk about whether the client’s children that are the beneficiaries should inherit outright or in trust. For many clients, if the child is over 21 or 25, the assumption is that the adult child should inherit outright. But is that really the best idea? So many factors should be considered in determining what is right for your estate plan and your beneficiaries. Once a person inherits, the money is his or hers and is subject to his or her creditors, divorce and other personal liabilities. While many want … Continue reading

Important Considerations before Buying a Timeshare

Are you thinking about buying a timeshare?  Undoubtedly, having a week or more reserved in a tropical destination for a vacation every year can be appealing.  However, there are a few things that you should consider before buying a timeshare – First, owning a week at a timeshare is similar to owning a condominium unit, in that you will owe ongoing (monthly or annual) assessments for maintenance to the timeshare association.  These maintenance assessments are in addition to the actual purchase price of the timeshare unit.  So, you need to be prepared to pay assessments to the timeshare association the … Continue reading

News: HOA Radio Program & Fact Book

HOA/Condo Radio Call-In Program Thursday, August 23 I’ll be a guest on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at noon on WHQR Public Radio in Wilmington for CoastLine: HOAs in the Cape Fear Region. The program, which begins at noon, will include call-in questions about “how to navigate the rules, including what to do when you have a grievance.” If you’re interested, the program can be heard on the radio (91.3), streaming, or by podcast. For more information, visit http://www.whqr.org/post/thursday-coastline-hoas-cape-fear-region (Follow-up: For anyone interested, the recorded program can be found at http://www.whqr.org/post/coastline-hoa-disputes-could-be-decreased-through-owner-education) 2017 Community Association Fact Book NOW LIVE The Foundation for … Continue reading

Rules and Regulations: Staying in Your Lane and Avoiding Potential Hazards.

As part of our community association practice I am often asked by clients to review their rules and regulations.  While this may seem like a rather simple task, it many times is made more complicated by Board confusion over what they have authority to control through the rules and regulations.  Put simply HOA and condominium associations can create reasonable rules and regulations to govern common areas.   Meaning, as long as the rules and regulations are reasonable and not in conflict with the Declaration, of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“Declaration”), the Board of Directors can adopt rules and regulations concerning the … Continue reading

Are You Ready to Buy a House?

Whenever I walk into our firm’s lobby to introduce myself to real estate clients who are there to close on a house, I tend to always greet them by stating “Are you ready to buy a house?!” I usually get one of three responses: a nervous chuckle followed by an “I guess so,” a very loud and relieved “Heck yeah, let’s do this!,” or a “Well, I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, so let’s get this over with.” As a real estate attorney and someone who has recently purchased a home, I am fully aware that buying … Continue reading

North Carolina HOA & Condo Association Insurance Requirements & Considerations

As North Carolina HOA/condo attorneys, we are regularly asked “What insurance policy should our association buy?” Our answer is always the same: “Talk to your insurance professional.” That’s because while an HOA/condo attorney can assist with what insurance is required by state law and the governing documents, an insurance professional can best advise on what policies are available for purchase, differences between coverage and carriers, and cost considerations. That said, as HOA/condo attorneys, we regularly advise on what types of insurance associations need to consider, their different purposes, and things to watch out for. WHAT TYPES OF INSURANCE SHOULD OUR … Continue reading

NC HOA/Condo Directors — Duties, Standards of Conduct, and Liability

Congratulations! You’ve just been elected to your HOA/condo association board of directors. Your new position shows your fellow members respect you and trust your judgment. By the way, did anyone describe your duties or mention that you could be financially responsible for actions? DIRECTOR DUTIES Almost without exception North Carolina community associations are incorporated nonprofit corporations. While that’s different than for-profit corporations (and governed by different statutes), the directors of both have similar duties. Directors of community association must: follow state laws pertaining to HOAs or condominiums enforce the association’s governing documents, including any declaration, articles of incorporation, and bylaws … Continue reading

Can My North Carolina HOA Ban Smoking?

I get asked this question frequently. With more public and private facilities now smoke-free, and the knowledge of the dangers of even remote second hand smoke widespread, non-smoking owners and board members start to wonder if they can limit or even prohibit smoking within their communities. Whether a community consists of single family homes, townhomes, condominiums or stacked units, the board of directors can probably adopt rules limiting or prohibiting smoking in common areas and limited common areas such as pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, lobbies, elevators and stair wells, and even on private patios and balconies. Most Declarations of Covenants … Continue reading

BUT I’VE NEVER HAD TO DO IT THAT WAY BEFORE! INDUSTRY PRIMER: ALL ATTORNEYS ARE DIFFERENT

To follow up on my last blog post, I have to believe that every attorney who practices has been confronted with the statement “but I’ve never had to do it that way before”.  Please believe that despite the image of attorneys driving up costs for their clients, most real estate attorneys are working off of a fee-based system and generally do not want to create unnecessary work or delays for themselves or others. Disbursements I know there are some attorneys now or in the past who would wink and pass along one or more checks at the closing table before … Continue reading

HOAs & Condos: Follow Your Bylaws & Proper Parliamentary Procedure (PART 2)

A blog I wrote in 2016 (HOA’s: Follow Your Bylaws & Proper Parliamentary Procedure) examined two opinions from the NC Court of Appeals about HOA/condo board decisions. The short takeaway from those cases for associations? FOLLOW THE RULES. A new case from the Court of Appeals issued today (June 19, 2018) again examines the requirements of an association board to take lawful action. In Homestead at Mills River Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Hyder et al., a Henderson County association brought a lawsuit against a successor developer due to a fight over Common Area. The case is lengthy (40 pages!) … Continue reading

Do Judgments Ever Expire?

Suppose you were awarded a money judgment against an opposing party but, not surprisingly, the defendant didn’t immediately write you a check to satisfy the debt. How long is your judgment valid? In North Carolina, a judgment is valid for ten years from the date it was awarded by the Court. The judgment can be renewed for another ten years, giving a judgment creditor additional time to try to collect the money owed. A judgment is renewed by filing a second lawsuit for the remaining amount due on the original judgment. This second lawsuit must be filed within ten years … Continue reading

Personalizing Your Personal Injury Claim

When people find out that I am an attorney, it is not uncommon for them to share with me their own experiences with the law.  Most often, these recollections involve a claim for personal injuries they suffered due to the negligence of a third party, like in a car crash or a slip and fall.  As a member of the legal profession, it is gratifying to hear when someone had legal representation and was pleased with the assistance they received.  All too often, however, the stories conveyed to me involve their dissatisfaction with the attorney retained or, for those who … Continue reading

South Carolina Legislative Update: Bill Affecting HOAs and Condos Signed Into Law

A South Carolina bill we have been watching for more than a year was signed into law by the governor yesterday, May 17, 2018.  House Bill 3886 is the first bill specifically directed at homeowners associations and condominiums in South Carolina and will impact how each of these types of communities operates.  Officially titled the “South Carolina Homeowners Association Act,” click here for the text of the law.   Here is a brief summary of some of the key parts of the new law: Disclosure Duty The law creates a new duty to disclose whether real property being sold is … Continue reading

Airspace Rights and Property Owners

Property owners are increasingly concerned about their rights with respect to aircraft overflying their property. The skies are becoming more and more crowded, particularly with the increased availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g., “drones”). Land owners now wonder where their property rights begin and end, and what can they do about offending aircraft. The rules governing the interplay between land owner rights and aircraft rights are complex and, in some cases, unsettled. Traditionally, it was thought a property was owned from the center of the Earth to the Heavens. With the advent of modern aviation, that view has changed dramatically. … Continue reading

New Appellate Case: “Must Our Condo Association Buy Flood Insurance?”

What insurance must be purchased by an association can usually be determined by reading the governing documents and relevant NC statutes (and consulting an experienced community association insurance professional!).  The NC Condominium Act details what insurance must be purchased by a condominium association created on or after October 1, 1986 (other statutes provide for insurance requirements on older condos or planned communities). NCGS § 47C-3-113 states, among other things: Commencing not later than the time of the first conveyance of a unit to a person other than a declarant, the association shall maintain, to the extent available: (1) Property insurance … Continue reading

Proxies & Proxy Voting at Membership or Board Meetings

Proxies and Proxy Voting at Membership Meetings Our attorneys get lots of questions about proxies and proxy voting. And that’s understandable, as proxy issues at meetings can get very confusing. A proxy is similar to a power of attorney as could be used to open a bank account or sell a car for another person. If proxies are permitted at a meeting, the proxy can likely be given to any person or entity. That’s because the person carrying the proxy isn’t really who is at the meeting–the proxy giver is. FYI, most parliamentary books like Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised … Continue reading

Dispute Resolution Committee Comments

Last week I was invited to address the Legislative Research Commission’s Committee on Dispute Resolution Options for Homeowners, Associations and Governing Entities. The committee’s charge is to explore the “creation of a mediation or arbitration board” to handle community association disputes, and I was asked to share my thoughts. My comments to the Committee are below. FYI, almost all lawsuits filed in North Carolina’s District or Superior Courts are sent to either mediation or arbitration. And state law currently requires that community associations notify members each year of their right to request mediation. While I am an active proponent of … Continue reading