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Holding Title to Real Property

Title in Real Property The purpose of this article is to make you aware of the many different ways in title in real property may be held or vested. Although there are many different means in which one can have an interest in land, such as Fee (Simple, Absolute, Determinable), Life Estate, or Future Interest, I will try not to bore with such, yet alone the Rule Against Perpetuities. Title to real property in California may be held by individuals, either in Sole Ownership or by more than one party. […]

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What Defines a Church?

Defining a Church? What is a Church? Recently, a potential buyer approached a City Planner asking what their Temple could and could not do on a particular piece of property. A disagreement arose between them as the person at the City kept referring to Church use, while the interested party kept trying to correct them in stating that they were not a Church, but a Temple. The question arose as to what is a church and how does it affect property use? The dictionary doesn’t help much when it defines […]

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Eminent Domain and the taking of property

Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation Eminent Domain is generally referred to as the taking of real property (real estate) by a governmental agency for the benefit of the public with just compensation. Often is referred to as Condemnation. Taking: Eminent Domain is the actual taking, usually permanently, and is the government’s removal of physical possession of real property from the owner. However, even where the government agency does not physically take possession of the land, it may have placed such restrictions upon its use so as to constitute a temporary […]

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Wills and Trust

Wills and Trust Wills and Trust are often a topic of discussion. In particular, what is the difference and which should I have? The following is a brief explanation of the difference between a Will, and a Trust. First and foremost, State rather than Federal law governs what happens to your property upon your death. Upon one’s death, you may hear the word probate, but not know what that means. Probate is the process of administering one’s estate, with or without a will. The purpose of probate is to: 1) […]

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Premises/Trespasser Liability

Premises/Trespasser Liability Considering the current trend, trespass on church property has been steadily increasing. Whether your church is accepting of those individuals or not, there are a few things you need to know regarding your liability. First and foremost, your church has the legal duty to implement and maintain measures which reduce the foreseeable risk of harm that may come to others; trespassers or otherwise. Liability: When someone suffers and injury, regardless of whether they are a tenant, contractor, church member, visitor, or trespasser, your church may be liable. Although […]

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How Zoning Code Effects Church Property Use

Municipalities establish a General Plan which contains the overall land use scheme by restricting some areas to particular usages. These governmental actions must not be arbitrary, capacious (unreasonable) or vague. Zoning regulations, or codes, must be reasonable and bear a rational relationship to the objectives of the city, while taking affirmative measures to provide housing for all. Municipalities have been given reasonable control over the private use of land from the state through enabling statutes for the protection of the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of its citizens. Legal […]

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Must a Church Apply for Tax-exempt Status

Does a Church need to be a registered 501 (c)(3) Tax-exempt Organization? Although not all non-profit organizations fall within section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, religious organization do. As such, this article focuses only on those 501(c)(3) organizations and whether or not a church must apply for tax-exempt status.   Defined: According to the IRS, to be tax-exempt religious organization, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. […]

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Church Parsonage

The Harm in Renting Out the Church Parsonage We often work with churches that have a parsonage going unused or rented out to non-members. As such, the question arises as to tax liabilities. The primary concern is either Property Taxes or Unrelated Business Income Tax. Parsonage Property Taxes: A residential property, (parsonage) owned by the church and being leased does affect the property tax exemption, namely the religious exemption. However, the parsonage may still quality under a welfare exemption. That is, provided its use can be deemed incidental to the […]

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What is a Letter of Intent?

Looking to sell your property? Whether or not your property is on the open market, your church may receive a Letter of Intent from a prospective buyer. Simply put, a Letter of Intent is nothing more than one party putting into writing their intent to perform a specific act. In the real estate world, this usually means that a potential buyer has provided you with the basic terms in which they intend to purchase your property. But should you sign it? Nearly every single Letter of Intent we have seen has […]

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choosing an entity

Choosing the Right Entity

What Type of Business Entity is Right for your Church? Although this article will focus on the formation of a corporation, it is important to understand all the different types of business entities and how they will affect your church. Entity Type: Unincorporated Association An association is formed once two or more individuals mutually agree to act for a common lawful purpose, whether for profit or not. An unincorporated association can act and conduct business in the same manner as the other entities listed below, including holding ownership of real […]

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