Free Educational Seminar – 1031 Exchanges: A Legal and Tax Perspective

Posted in News & Events, Real Estate

The law firm of Stark & Stark, the accounting firm of Hill, Barth & King LLC and the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting a free seminar titled “1031 Exchanges: A Legal and Tax Perspective,” which will be held on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 from 8:00 – 9:30 AM at The Hotel ML, 915 New Jersey 73, Mount Laurel, New Jersey 08054.  Stark & Stark Shareholder Thomas S. Onder, member of the firm’s Commercial, Retail & Industrial Real Estate Group, will moderate the seminar, and will be joined by speakers James E. Bartolomei, CPA of Hill, Barth & King, David Medinets, Esq. of Madison Commercial Real Estate Services, and Rachel L. Stark, Esq. of Stark & Stark.

This seminar will explore planning opportunities for Tax Deferred Exchanges of Real Property under IRC Section 1031. The seminar, which will be geared towards professionals in the real estate, legal and accounting fields, will cover the various intricacies of a 1031 Exchange, including like-kind properties, treatment of closing and mortgage costs, time limitations and qualified intermediaries, identification rules, forward and reverse exchanges, and protecting your business and clients.

Limited space is available and pre-registration is mandatory. Hot breakfast will be served. For more information or to RSVP for the seminar, please contact TJ Mohin at (609) 945-7610 or tmohin@stark-stark.com.

Dolores Kelley on New Jersey Buzz Radio

Posted in News & Events

Tune in this Sunday, January 25, 2015, at 10:00AM to the New Jersey Buzz Radio Show on AM station 920 to hear Attorney Dolores Kelley, member of the firm’s Business & Corporate Group, discuss the legal services Stark & Stark offers to local businesses and her involvement with the MidJersey Chamber Young Professionals Connective (YPC).

Ms. Kelley highlights the business development opportunities that the YPC provides to professionals looking to grow their network, the YPC’s 2015 Non-Profit Partner – Dress for Success, and the YPC’s upcoming Winter Classic event being held on February 5th at TPC Jasna Polana in Princeton. For more information about this Winter Classic event, or to register to attend, please click here.

In case you miss the broadcast, you can still listen to it by visiting the radio show’s web page.

Wet Seal Bankruptcy Filing – When Will Landlords and Trade Creditors Be Paid?

Posted in Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights

Wet Seal, Inc. (“Wet Seal”) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the District of Delaware on Friday, January 16, 2014, known as docket # 15-10081. The company operates 173 stores in 42 states and Puerto Rico. Prior to filing, Wet Seal closed 338 around January 7, 2015.

The question for Landlords and trade creditors of the Debtor are when and how they will be paid?

Landlord’s Questions

Landlords need to ask important questions, like:

  1. Is the Debtor remaining a tenant?;
  2. When will “stub” rent (the rent between the petition date and the next regular monthly payment) be paid?;
  3. Are there pre-petition claims that are owed?;
  4. Is there Debtor in default of pre-petition non-monetary obligations?; and,
  5. What other damages are owed (both pre- and post-petition)?

Trade Creditor Questions

Trade creditors, including suppliers should also be asking important questions:

  1. Does a reclamation claim exist (a right to take back goods shipped, but unpaid within 45 days)?;
  2. Can an administrative claim be asserted?; and,
  3. Should a proof of claim be filed, and if so, how?

It is imperative that commercial Landlords and trade creditors, including suppliers of goods shipped within 45 days, but unpaid, speak with sound bankruptcy counsel immediately to formulate and execute a plan that will obtain their objectives in a quick and efficient manner.

Stark & Stark’s Bankruptcy & Creditor’s Rights Group can help. Our bankruptcy attorneys regularly represent landlords in the District of New Jersey, Southern District of New York, District of Delaware and Eastern District of Pennsylvanian on a variety of issues. For more information about the Wet Seal filing and how Stark & Stark can assist you, please contact Thomas Onder, Shareholder at (609) 219-7458 or tonder@Stark-Stark.com. Mr. Onder writes regularly on commercial real estate issue and is a member of ICSC and Chair of the 2015 ICSC PA/NJ/DE Next Generation Committee.

Stark & Stark Recognized in 2015 “Best Law Firms” Rankings

Posted in News & Events

U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers announced the 2015 “Best Law Firms” rankings, and Stark & Stark has been recognized with a Tier 1 ranking for Commercial Litigation, Family Law, Litigation-Construction, and Real Estate Law in New Jersey. Stark & Stark is honored to have received this recognition.

Rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process, and this year over 17,000 attorneys provided almost 600,000 law firm assessments, and almost 7,500 clients provided more than 40,000 evaluations to help determine the rankings. In order to be eligible for a ranking, each firm to have at least one lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America.

For more information about the selection process, please click here.

Good News for Developers: New Jersey Permit Extension Act Extended

Posted in Real Estate

Just before the end of 2014, Governor Christie signed legislation that extended the time periods contained in the New Jersey Permit Extension Act. The Permit Extension Act deals with various land use approvals and permits that were either approved and/or set to expire after January 1, 2007.

The purpose of the Permit Extension Act was to acknowledge the difficult economic climate and to toll the expiration dates for the covered permits and/or approvals. Without the Permit Extension Act, many developers who were unable to move forward with their projects, were conceivably going to have their approvals/permits lapse. This would force developers to through the costly and time consuming process of reapplying and obtaining various permits and approvals under the current statutory regulations, or perhaps simply not be able to re-obtain the lapsed approvals.

Previously the Permit Extension Act ensured that the covered approvals/permits would not lapse prior to December 31, 2014. Pursuant to the recent legislation, that date has now been extended through at least December 31, 2015

However, it is important to note that not every permit or approval obtained or set to expire after January 1, 2007 is covered by the Permit Extension Act. The approvals may extend up to an additional six months for any unexpired term of the approval or permit, thus not later than June 30, 2016, Moreover, further extensions as permitted by law are not precluded when the tolling period expires.

To ensure your project’s success and that all land use issues are dealt with effectively and efficiently, contact Stark & Stark’s Commercial, Retail and Industrial Real Estate Group. Attorneys are active members of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

Year End Giving Considerations

Posted in Trusts & Estates

I have co-authored this blog with Steven L. Friedman, Esq., a colleague of mine at Stark & Stark.

While holiday parties and shopping fill your schedule, consider setting aside time to evaluate year-end tax planning. This is the season for giving, and if giving does not factor into your current tax strategy, it could be an area for improvement. Developing charitable and intra-family giving strategies is an important component of any plan, and is particularly important at the end of the year. Charitable and intra-family giving can reap substantial rewards, but failing to properly consider your options each year may limit these benefits. The following analyzes some of the major end-of-year tax planning considerations for charitable and intra-family giving. Continue Reading

Ownership, Maintenance, and Insurance Obligations in Community Associations

Posted in Community Associations

It is reasonable to think that owners of real property are responsible for maintaining and insuring that property. In community associations, however, the maintenance and insurance obligations are often not entirely consistent with ownership. Knowing the maintenance and insurance obligations for your community association and its unit owners is critical.

Ownership. Ascertaining who owns what property in a community association depends on the structure of the community – condominium, townhomes, cooperative, single-family home, etc. – and how it was created: by master deed, declaration, or proprietary lease. The owner of a single family home may own everything that is on his lot while the owner of a condominium unit may only own everything within her unit boundaries. In a co-op, the shareholders own no real property, just shares of stock in a corporation which owns the real property. While a homeowners association owns all of the common property, in a condominium association the common and limited common property is owned proportionately by each of the unit owners.

Maintenance. Unit owners may or may not be responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of the property they own in a community association. A homeowners association may mow lawns on individual single family home lots or maintain, repair, and replace the roofs and exteriors of a townhome. A condominium association may be responsible for maintenance, repair, and replacement of pipes and wires which are part of the unit and a condominium unit owner may be responsible for maintenance and repairs of limited common elements adjacent to the unit. Ownership of property in a community association does not necessarily dictate the maintenance obligations.

Insurance. The insurance requirements in community associations may also be inconsistent with property ownership. Condominium associations and unit owners should be most concerned about insurance requirements because poor interpretation can result in duplicative insurance or even gaps in insurance. An association may be required to insure portions of the unit such as drywall, appliances, cabinets, and floor coverings or it may only be required to insure the building from the “studs out” (excluding drywall and all interior furnishings). Understanding the insurance requirements for unit owners and associations is essential to ensure sufficient coverage in the event of a casualty loss.

The association master deed/declaration and by-laws must be carefully reviewed to understand the ownership interests, maintenance obligations, and insurance requirements of unit owners and the association. A thorough understanding of these important provisions is fundamental to proper administration and management of a community association.

A Pre-School Primer for Divorced Parents

Posted in Divorce

In an important recent opinion, Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones (Ocean County) examined the competing claims of divorced parents regarding their child’s pre-school selection and issued a new set of legal principles to be applied if parents cannot agree. Judge Jones approached the task by considering the interplay between parental rights and the role of pre-school as a combination of child care and education.

In Madison v. Davis (pseudonyms for the parties’ actual names), Judge Jones was faced with the question of whether a custodial parent had the right to change a child’s pre-school without the consent of the other parent even though the other parent had joint legal custody. Although the lawyers for both parties made compelling arguments based on existing New Jersey law dealing with school selection, Judge Jones concluded that since the case did not involve compulsory education for children between ages 6-16, a specialized set of factors was necessary in the pre-school context.

Basically, the parties differed on the question of whether pre-school constitutes “day care” (mother’s position) or an “educational facility” (father’s position). The distinction is important because of judicial deference to the residential custodian (in this case the mother) concerning the right to select or change day care providers, as opposed to the more stringent requirement that both parents be involved in educational decisions involving their children. Instead, Judge Jones held that “simply lifting generic principles…and pasting them into the context of [this] litigation” was unsound since pre-school is a “cross between day care and school”. His conclusion was that since “there is no present law or policy” on the subject, the following principles shall govern:

  1. The custodial parent has the initial right to select a proposed pre-school program or to transfer the child form one program to another.
  2. The custodial parent’s rights are “not absolute and unlimited” in that such a selection must be “reasonable” in terms of cost, accessibility, hours, curriculum, and ancillary services.
  3. The custodial parent must provide the other parent with notice of his/her intentions regarding pre-school enrollment or any proposed change.
  4. The non-custodial parent, as a joint legal custodian, has the right to investigate and evaluate the above information but not to arbitrarily block or veto the custodial parent’s decision by simply refusing to consent.
  5. The non-custodial parent is free to file a motion with the court if he/she believes that the custodial parent’s selection is unreasonable and contrary to the child’s best interests. The non-custodial parent will, however, carry the burden of proof to so convince the court. The non-custodial parent must also provide the court with a “specific, more reasonable plan”.
  6. Finally, if the court finds that the pre-school selected by the custodial parent is unreasonable, the court may override that parent’s decision and order different day care arrangements, including placement at a different pre-school. The court can also award counsel fees to or issue other sanctions if it determines that a party has acted unreasonably.

The decision goes on to discuss ancillary issues such as the availability of the other parent to care for the child in lieu of pre-school which are beyond the scope of this article. For present purposes, the two “take-aways” for parents facing such issues are that finding mutually agreeable common ground is superior to the legal, financial and emotional toll extracted by contested litigation except in egregious circumstances and that a parent concerned about such matters should consult with experienced family law counsel before deciding how to proceed.

Agents of Liability: Can the Acts of Another Bind a Business?

Posted in Business & Corporate, Litigation

Whether in time of economic growth or decline, all businesses must be mindful of potential liability. The nature and extent of liabilities has a direct effect on profits, which can hamper business growth and require cutbacks, among other things. Knowing where and how liabilities arise can prevent negative effects on profits, avoid litigation premised on unintended and unknown acts, and promote overall business well-being. Continue Reading

Safeguard Your Online Presence Before It’s Too Late

Posted in Divorce

Social media surrounds almost all of us. Statistically speaking, over 70% of you reading this article are probably social media users, whether you utilize Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace, Google Plus, various dating websites, a combination of several of these, or numerous others. In this digital age where cell phones and tablet devices are so common place in everyday living, most with photo and video capturing capabilities, personal privacy has been extremely constricted, voluntarily or not. Continue Reading