May Staff Spotlight: Kayla Riley

May Staff Spotlight: Kayla Riley

Each month we will be highlighting a member of the Murray, Rauzi, Kidwell & Cunningham and Owl Creek Title Agency staff. We hope you enjoy getting to know our attorneys and staff members a little better through the questions and answers. 

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Ohio Good Funds Law FAQ

The Ohio legislature recently updated what is commonly known as the Ohio Good Funds Law. This new legislation includes a few significant changes, most notably what constitutes acceptable forms of payment as it relates to real estate closings. We have read various documents detailing the changes to the law, but have found the “OHIO GOOD FUNDS LAW FAQS” (see below) from Ohio Bar Title and First American Title to be very informative and easy to understand. We encourage you to review it and share with your clients.

Of course, if you have any questions regarding the recent changes to the Ohio Good Funds Law or any other real estate related matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

OHIO GOOD FUNDS LAW FAQs
(Related to ORC §1349.20-§1349.22 and the changes to ORC §1349.21, effective April 6, 2017)

Q: Does the law only regulate funds collected from the consumer (buyer/borrower/seller)?
A: No. This aspect of the law has not changed, the law regulates any and all funds collected by an escrow or closing agent in connection with an escrow transaction involving residential real property. So, it also regulates the funds collected from a lender as well as from a consumer.

Q: Is it permissible to use cash over $1,000 if it is deposited in the escrow account of the closing agent in advance of closing?
A: No. The law only permits cash if it is in the amount of $1,000 or less AND it is physically received by the escrow agent prior to disbursement AND intended to be deposited no later than the next banking day after the date of disbursement.

Q: Does an “internal transfer” of funds from one account to another at the same institution qualify as “electronically transferred funds” under the law?
A: No. All*electronically transferred funds must be sent via the real time gross settlement system provided by the federal reserve banks (i.e. wire transfer) and must be immediately available for withdrawal and disbursement. *Electronically transferred funds may also be sent via the automated clearing house (ACH) system only if they are initiated by the United States, State of Ohio, or by an agency, instrumentality or political subdivision of the United States or the State of Ohio.

Q: If the buyer needs to bring $1,200 to close, is it acceptable if they bring a $1,000 cashier’s check and $200 in cash?
A: No. Cash, personal checks, business checks (other than those drawn on a real estate broker’s trust account), certified checks, cashier’s checks, official checks, or money orders must be in an aggregate amount not exceeding $1,000. Any checks or money orders must also be drawn on a federally insured bank, savings bank, savings and loan, or credit union.

Q: If the buyer has given the real estate broker $2,000 in earnest money, and the broker brings these funds to closing, can they be used?
A: Yes. As long as the broker brings these funds in the form of a business check drawn on the broker’s special or trust bank account (as defined under ORC §4735.18(A)(26)) these funds can be presented at closing. There is no limit on the amount of a check from the broker’s account.

Q: Can an escrow or closing agent accept a cashier’s or certified check over $1,000 if it is deposited in time to “clear” the bank before disbursement?
A: No. The law only permits cashier’s or certified checks in an aggregate amount of $1,000 or less.

Q: If the buyer needs to bring $1,500 to closing and has given the real estate broker $1,000 in earnest money, can the buyer use the earnest money and bring the difference in the form of a personal check?
A: Yes. As long as the broker draws the $1,000 on the broker’s special or trust account, the consumer can bring the difference in the form of a personal check. The broker’s trust account check does not count toward the aggregate limitation of $1,000 for cash, personal checks, business checks, certified checks, cashier’s checks, official checks or money orders.

Q: Is the law only applicable to residential transactions?
A: Yes. This aspect of the law has not changed. The law only applies to residential real property transactions which are defined as any real property improved or to be improved with a one-to four-family dwelling.

Q: If all parties to a residential real property transaction agree and instruct that other forms of funds are acceptable in that transaction, can the escrow or closing agent follow this separate instruction?
A: No. The terms of the law must be strictly followed and does not permit the consumer, lender, or escrow or closing agent to alter the types of acceptable funds in a residential real property transaction.

Q: Is a check from another title company for greater than $1,000.00 is exempt from the rule. In other words, can a title company which takes seller’s proceeds for seller to buy new send those funds by check to the new title company. In other words, are title company to title company checks exempt regardless of the amount of the check.
A: The answer was no, we came to the conclusion that the statute is clear that title company checks are not exempt from the rule.

Q: Does it apply to refinances?
A: Yes. It applies to all residential transactions.

Q: Does it apply to cash deals?
A: Yes. It applies to all residential transactions.

Q: What about a bank funding into a bank account? A situation with a lender like Union Savings Bank that funds their refinances into the Escrow Account of the Title Agency that is an IOTA Account set up at the same bank.
A: The lender will not be able to do an ACH into your account. They will have to send the funding by wire via the real-time gross settlement system provided by the Federal Reserve banks, as outlined in the code.

Q: With the increase in wire fraud, doesn’t this make it riskier for the consumer?
A: If the proper procedures are put into place to make sure that any wire instructions are provided in person or verified by the parties prior to being sent, the risk of not having funds available for disbursement or being told they did not clear, post-closing, stop the consumer from being harmed. Fraudulent Certified Checks and Cashiers Check pose a greater risk to the consumer than a wire.

Q: Bank branches set limits on the amounts that can be wired from a consumer account.
A: It seems like mobile banking limits the amount that can be wired from an account but not an actual branch
visit in order to initiate the wire, although this may vary by bank. We have also instructed the agents to let their customers know when the order is opened, that the money needed from all parties will need to be in the form of a wire for any amount over $1,000, so they need to check with their bank to see what that banks policy is on sending wires. If they will only be able to send increments of the total each day, they will need to start the process early in order to have the full amount of any funds needed on the day of disbursement.

Q: Is the law applicable to only residential transactions
A: Yes

Q: Does the new law apply to escrow funds pertaining to out of state transactions?
A: If the money for this transaction will be received and disbursed from the Ohio IOTA account, then it will have to follow this law. The only exception to this would be for a Commercial transaction, as this does not apply to commercial deals.

Q: Does the statute totally prohibit the taking of all but the enumerated checks or can we take checks as long as no disbursement is made from the escrow account until that check has cleared, in other words, if I get an earnest money deposit of $10,000.00 in check form but my transaction is not closing for 60 days, and there will be no disbursement on that file for 60 days can I accept that check?
A: Unless the funds are for Earnest Money and those funds were sent to us from the Real Estate Broker from the Real Estate Brokers Trust account, all deposits will need to be in the form of a wire. The above scenario is most likely to happen in a commercial transaction though, which would not be covered by this rule.

March Staff Spotlight: Deb Summers

Name: Deb Summers

Title: Escrow Officer

Q: What is your favorite part about your job at Murray, Rauzi, Kidwell & Cunningham and Owl Creek Title Agency? 

A: The variety of challenges. Each closing is different and interesting, some more than others. I learn something new every day in this position. I also enjoy working with people.

Q: What are three words to describe your position at Murray, Rauzi, Kidwell and Cunningham and Owl Creek Title Agency?

A: Deadlines, demands, and details.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: Spend time with family and friends. My grandson, Ethan, likes me to play football and basketball with him. I used to be able to beat him, then he turned seven and now I can hardly keep up.

Q: What would people never guess that you do in your role?

A: Organize so much information and documentation on each closing.

Q: What is on your bucket list?

A: I would like to visit the Grand Canyon.

If you would like to reach out to Deb Summers, please call our offices at 740-397-7427 or email her at dsummers@owlcreektitle.com. 

February Staff Spotlight: Cassidy Davidson

Name: Cassidy Davidson

Title: Escrow Officer

Q: What is your favorite part about your job at Murray, Rauzi, Kidwell & Cunningham and Owl Creek Title Agency? 

A: I enjoy meeting people and working with people from all over.

Q: What are three words to describe your position at Murray, Rauzi, Kidwell and Cunningham and Owl Creek Title Agency?

A: Detailed. Demanding. Timely.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: Watching my kids play softball and soccer. Traveling and adventures.

Q: What would people never guess that you do in your role?

A: I solve problems that people did not know they had. 

Q: What is on your bucket list?

A: Skydiving.

If you would like to reach out to Cassidy Davidson, please call our offices at 740-397-7427 or email her at cdavidson@owlcreektitle.com. 

January Staff Spotlight: Robert D. Lee

Name: Robert D. Lee  

Title: Attorney and Title Agent

Q: What is your favorite part about your job at Murray, Rauzi, Kidwell & Cunningham and Owl Creek Title Agency? 

A: I meet many different people from varied backgrounds, situations and life experiences. Helping people buy and sell real estate.  It’s generally a positive event. I enjoy the “paper chase” to bring complicated parts of a transaction together for a successful closing.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the practice of law?

A: The creativity needed based on the law or legal experience to assist clients with their transactions at a reasonable cost.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: Riding bicycles, walking, reading and traveling.

Q: What would people never guess that you do in your role?

A: I enjoy the local history aspect of real estate.  I see names of people who existed 100 years ago.

Q: What is your hidden talent?

A: Making something out of nothing, using limited resources.

If you would like to reach out to Attorney Lee, please call our offices at 740-397-7474 or email him at rlee@mrkattorneys.com. More information about Attorney Lee can be found in his bio here.

December Staff Spotlight

Each month we will be highlighting a member of the Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell and Owl Creek Title Agency staff. We hope you enjoy getting to know our attorneys and staff members a little better through the questions and answers. 

Name: Cynthia Cunningham  

Title: Attorney and Title Agent

Q: What is your favorite part about your job at Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell /Owl Creek Title Agency? 

A: Working directly with clients to achieve their goals. Whether it is helping someone develop an estate plan they feel comfortable with,  helping someone close on the perfect piece of real estate for their family or their business, or helping an entrepreneur set up their new business entity, helping others achieve their goals is the part that I enjoy most about my job.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the practice of law?

A: The use of defined terms and proper punctuation. Proper drafting of documents requires attention to using the correct terms, definitions, and punctuation. The meaning of a sentence can hinge on the placement of a word in a sentence, whether a term has been properly defined in the document, or whether a comma was placed before or after a phrase.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: Spend time with my family, volunteer in my community, and support our local businesses and community events. Knox County is a great community to live, work and play.

Q: What would people never guess that you do in your role?

A: Write questions for the Staff Spotlight.

Q: What is the last joke you recall?

A: This is one of my favorite jokes to tell, but is not one that always garners the most laughs:
My given name is Cynthia, but many call me Cindy. I sign documents as Cynthia, my business card and license say Cynthia, so people often ask, “Do you prefer to go by Cindy or Cynthia?” My usual response is, “Call me what you want, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
Maybe it is my delivery of the punchline, but many don’t find the joke nearly as funny as I do. 

If you would like to reach out to Attorney Cunningham, please call our offices at 740-397-7474 or email her at ccunningham@mrkattorneys.com. More information about Attorney Cunningham can be found in her bio here.

POSSIBLE TAX CREDITS AVAILABLE

Photo courtesy of Joe Frazee Photography

Photo courtesy of Joe Frazee Photography

An opportunity you won't want to miss: 

If you have ever wondered about the historic tax credit programs in Ohio, the Heritage Centre Association and Heritage Ohio invite you to an informal tax credit coffee at the Mount Vernon Grand Hotel, April 11, 2016 at 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Space is limited, please RSVP by April 8th to manager@visitdowntownmountvernon.com or 740-393-1481.

Knox County has many historical districts and properties that contribute to them. It may interest you that anyone owning a structure (commercial, industrial, residential, etc.) over 50 years old is eligible for historic tax credits. The most accessible historic tax credit is federal.  It is available to everyone with an eligible property. The state preservation tax credit is awarded by application, is necessarily competitive, and is typically limited to the best and larger projects.

This is your rare opportunity to have all the right people in one room. Come and chat with Frank Quinn, Nathaniel Kaelin, Mariangela Pfister, Barb Powers and Lisa Bromwell, who manage these programs.  Learn how the 20% Federal Historic tax credit and the 25% Ohio historic preservation tax credit work from those with the most experience. Through our relationship with Woodward Development, there will be an additional presentation by Don Longwell on these operations and types of projects to which these programs best apply.  Ask questions and explore your options. 

The Heritage Centre Association would like to thank the Grand Hotel, the Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Knox Chamber of Commerce, and Heritage Ohio for making this event possible. Revitalization is important to the health of our community. We are honored to work with so many to bring this event here. Our goal is to make this process less intimidating and more accessible to those who can use it. 

The mission of the Heritage Centre Association is to create and enhance the economic, historic, and social development of the Central Business District and Downtown Mount Vernon. We look forward to meeting you at this event. 

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

Did you know that studies suggest just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolution?  Most people have realistic goals. The problem is they don't have a realistic plan in place to achieve those goals. That's not the case here at Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell. We specialize in working with clients to put a plan in place to achieve a specific goal. 

Most of us set common resolutions such as losing weight, getting out of debt, eating better, quitting bad habits, etc. But this year, what about taking care of your loved ones? Yes, we're talking about Estate Planning. Not your typical resolution, but it's something everyone should think about and plan for before it's too late. 

The attorneys at Murray, Rauzi and Kidwell, can help with your Estate Planning. Our goals for you are simple: avoid Probate Court and ensure the most efficient way to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries. To do this, we always recommend everyone have, at a minimum, four documents in place: 1) Last Will and Testament, 2) Financial (or Durable) Power of Attorney, 3) Health Care Power of Attorney and 4) Living Will. 

A Last Will and Testament is a document that sets forth how you would like your assets (both personal and real) to be distributed at your death. So long as you are at least 18 years old, of sound mind and not under any undue influence, you can execute a Last Will and Testament. 

A Financial (or Durable) Power of Attorney is a legal document where you (as the Principal) grant authority to another person (your Agent) to act on your behalf with regards to your personal, financial or business affairs. This document is important because if a person is ever declared mentally incompetent and a Financial Power of Attorney has not been signed, the only alternative is to turn to the Probate Court for appointment of a guardian. Going through the Probate Court for guardianship is costly and burdensome. This can be avoided by executing a Financial Power of Attorney. 

The last two documents, a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will, can be lumped together.  Much like the Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person (your Agent) to obtain your health information and make health care decisions for you. You can allow your agent to get your health information and communicate with health care providers at any time, however, health care decisions can only be made for you when (and if) you cannot make the health care decision for yourself. A Living Will is different from a Health Care Power of Attorney. A Living Will is a legal document you can sign that sets forth your directions about the use (or non-use) of artificial life-sustaining treatment. A Living Will becomes effective only when you cannot communicate your wishes to medical professionals and you are permanently unconscious or terminally ill. A Living Will takes precedence over a Health Care Power of Attorney. 

As you begin the New Year, give some thought to your estate plan and the very basics mentioned above. How satisfying would it be to join the 8% of people who achieve their resolution and know your family is protected at the same time? Contact Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell today to set-up your free consultation to discuss your estate plan and how we can put the best plan in place for you and your family. 

 

 

 

OPEN HOUSE & RIBBON CUTTING!

The law office of Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell, and its accompanying title agency, Owl Creek Title, are excited to announce its relocation to 112 North Main Street in Mount Vernon, Ohio.  

Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell has called 305 East High Street its home since 2004 when attorneys Richard B. Murray (now retired) and Robert L. Rauzi (now retired) purchased the beautifully constructed historical home (then known as Murray & Rauzi). A few years later, attorney Korey M. Kidwell joined the law firm and became a named partner in 2010, forming what is now Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell. 

Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell has proudly served Knox County and surrounding areas from its 305 East High Street location for the past eleven years . We are sad to leave such a prominent location, however, with the additions of attorneys Nick M. Fiorilli, Cynthia A. Cunningham and  Robert D. Lee, our new location at 112 North Main Street will undoubtedly help our team better serve the people and businesses of Knox County and surrounding areas.  

Our team, along with the Knox County Chamber of Commerce, would like to invite you to share in this exciting time for our law firm and title agency as we host an open house and ribbon cutting, Tuesday, October 27, 2015. Open house will be from 4pm to 6pm with the Ribbon Cutting at 5pm. We look forward to continuing to serve Knox County and surrounding areas with quality and professional service.