The law office of William Heath is a professional, full service practice law firm specializing in real estate, small business, and estate planning.
We are dedicated to providing our clients and business partners with a complete transactional soluction combining the personal attention of yester year with the technology of tomorrow.
Our goal is to make your closing a smooth, seamless process. Our staff handles thousands of transactions and utilizes the latest technology and tranking systems, working behind the scenes, to make your experience as quickly and easily as possible.
Why do we need a closing attorney?
Under Georgia law, an attorney is required to prepare many of the important documents related to the closing on your property. The attorney will ultimately be responsible for insuring that your property comes complete with a clean, clear title in your name, with no liens or taxes owed from the past.
Your real estate agent guided you through finding the house, negotiating the price and signing contracts. Your mortgage broker then helped you find the right financing for your new home, getting you approved and working with you to get the final terms for your loan. Even though you probably have not even talked on the phone yet, the closing attorney has been working behind the scenes for weeks, coordinating between the lender, the broker and the agents. When you finally get to the table, what you see is the results of everyone’s efforts in completing the purchase of your new home.
If you imagined your home purchase as a football game, your closing is fourth and goal at the one-yard line. The closing attorney is the quarterback, he huddles everyone together at the closing table, makes sure everything runs smoothly and hands you your keys at the end….touchdown!
Legally, the attorney’s function at the table is to represent the lender. In the process, the attorney will explain all of the documents you will be signing, the significance of each and why they are important. He will explain the terms of your new note, ensure you understand you are using your home as collateral and that if you fail to make your payments as required under the loan you could lose the property in foreclosure. Georgia is a non-judicial foreclosure state, which means that the lender does not have to take you to court to foreclose if you fail to make your payments. Long story short, “You don’t pay, you don’t stay” or “No dough, gotta go!” There’s a lot of other little catch phrases, but you get the picture.
With the talk about foreclosure out of the way, you should be past the rough part of the closing. The rest of the time, the attorney will talk with you, maybe joke a little here and there, and keep your hand scribbling your name more times than you can count. Before you know it, you’re done, shaking hands and heading for the door. Don’t be surprised if you hear a sigh of relief from someone in your room, even yourself. Closings are stressful, it’s the attorney’s job to help make it as painless as possible. If you’re lucky, he’ll load you up with cokes and introduce you to the candy bowl. If you really get stressed, look up on the wall, Uga will smile down at you (you’ll see when you get here!)
What does the attorney check for when running a title examination?
The closing attorney examines the land records on file in the courthouse, checking the records for any defects on prior deeds to the property, looking for any outstanding mortgages, lawsuits, liens or other judgments that may have to be paid off or corrected prior to closing. This is necessary to ensure that you get your house without someone else’s bills.
Should I get Title Insurance?
YES. Title Insurance protects you from unforeseen or unknown claims against the property. It protects you from the time you close on your house until you sell it. There are a vast number of instances when title insurance comes in handy: forged or improper deeds, liens, lawsuits, missing heirs of an estate…the list goes on and on. Sometimes, it’s as simple as human error, something missed by the title examiner. The claims can be small liens or actions so severe that your property could be taken from you in a lawsuit. The title insurance company serves as your line of defense against these claims, representing your interests and covering you for financial losses. Title insurance is so important that every lender requires a title insurance policy for their loans. The lender’s policy pays them back for any loss they incur, but this does not cover any equity you may have in your home. Owner’s title insurance is a one-time shot, it lasts for as long as you own the property and the coverage is pretty inexpensive. Your closing attorney will include it as a service to you on any purchase. You can decline the coverage, but who would want to take the risk?
Can I use a personal check for closing costs?
As a rule of thumb, certified funds in the form of a cashier’s check or money order is the preferred method of payment. In fact, the State of Georgia requires the attorney to take certified funds from you for any amount in excess of $5,000.00. We are able to accept a personal check of $500.00 or less. If you have to bring funds to close, bring in certified funds the amount given to you by your agent or broker. If you’re over, the attorney will refund you the difference. If you’re short, you will usually be able to write a personal check for the difference.
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When will I get my original deed?
Your deed to your house will be filed shortly after closing. As soon as the county recorded returns your deed to the attorney (usually about 6-8 weeks), the attorney will forward the original recorded deed to you along with your title insurance policy you purchased at closing. Be sure to put these documents in a safe place with your other important papers.
What is homestead exemption and when do I need to apply?
The homestead exemption is a tax credit given to owners of real property by the county in which they reside. You can only have one homestead, your principal residence, and therefore only one exemption. The credit is substantial and is a real bonus to the resident homeowner. The exemption must be applied for between January and March of the year in which you are requesting the exemption. Once you have been granted the exemption, you will receive the exemption every year unless you change your principal residence. You don’t have to reapply. If you are closing on the refinance of your house, don’t worry, it does not effect your exemption and you do not need to reapply.
How do I view my documents?
Our offices provide an interactive online platform that allows access to your documents security and digitally for up to 7 years.
In commercial real estate, it is essential that you have a great legal time working hard to ensure your transaction goes as smoothly as possible while protecting the client’s interests. Our firm offers representation for lenders, buyers and sellers across a range of commercial real estate related transactions. We have handled transactions ranging from small office condominiums to multi-million dollar office buildings and retail shopping centers. We invite you to speak with our attorneys regarding representation for the following:
- Lender Closing Services
- Buyer or Seller Representation
- Contract Preparation and Review
- Lease and Easement Agreements
- Escrow and Title Insurance Services
- SBA 7A and 504 loans
Whether you are starting your first business or selling your last, the Law Offices of William A Heath, Jr, PC is here to assist in meeting your goals. Your job is to make your business great. Our job is to give you the legal tools to do so.
A sample of the services we provide includes:
- Business Formation (LLC, Inc, LLP, FLLLP, etc.)
- Mergers and Acquistions
- Buy/Sell Agreements and Succession Planning
- Compensation Agreements
Proper planning is an essential to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones while ensuring your wishes are followed. Let our attorneys help you craft a custom plan that meets your goals.
Services we provide include:
- Living Trusts
- Spousal Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- Powers of Attorney
- Living Wills (Healthcare Directives)
- Asset Preservation
- Charitable Trusts