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How To Navigate The Real Estate Assignment Contract

assignment of interest in real estate

What is assignment of contract?

Assignment of contract vs double close

How to assign a contract

Assignment of contract pros and cons

Even the most left-brained, technical real estate practitioners may find themselves overwhelmed by the legal forms that have become synonymous with the investing industry. The assignment of contract strategy, in particular, has developed a confusing reputation for those unfamiliar with the concept of wholesaling. At the very least, there’s a good chance the “assignment of contract real estate” exit strategy sounds more like a foreign language to new investors than a viable means to an end.

A real estate assignment contract isn’t as complicated as many make it out to be, nor is it something to shy away from because of a lack of understanding. Instead, new investors need to learn how to assign a real estate contract as this particular exit strategy represents one of the best ways to break into the industry.

In this article, we will break down the elements of a real estate assignment contract, or a real estate wholesale contract, and provide strategies for how it can help investors further their careers. [ Thinking about investing in real estate? Register to attend a FREE online real estate class and learn how to get started investing in real estate. ]

What Is A Real Estate Assignment Contract?

A real estate assignment contract is a wholesale strategy used by real estate investors to facilitate the sale of a property between an owner and an end buyer. As its name suggests, contract assignment strategies will witness a subject property owner sign a contract with an investor that gives them the rights to buy the home. That’s an important distinction to make, as the contract only gives the investor the right to buy the home; they don’t actually follow through on a purchase. Once under contract, however, the investor retains the sole right to buy the home. That means they may then sell their rights to buy the house to another buyer. Therefore, when a wholesaler executes a contact assignment, they aren’t selling a house but rather their rights to buy a house. The end buyer will pay the wholesale a small assignment fee and buy the house from the original buyer.

The real estate assignment contract strategy is only as strong as the contracts used in the agreement. The language used in the respective contract is of the utmost importance and should clearly define what the investors and sellers expect out of the deal.

There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind when considering using sales contracts for real estate:

Contract prohibitions: Make sure the contract you have with the property seller does not have prohibitions for future assignments. This can create serious issues down the road. Make sure the contract is drafted by a lawyer that specializes in real estate assignment contract law.

Property-specific prohibitions: HUD homes (property obtained by the Department of Housing and Urban Development), real estate owned or REOs (foreclosed-upon property), and listed properties are not open to assignment contracts. REO properties, for example, have a 90-day period before being allowed to be resold.

assignment fee

What Is An Assignment Fee In Real Estate?

An assignment fee in real estate is the money a wholesaler can expect to receive from an end buyer when they sell them their rights to buy the subject property. In other words, the assignment fee serves as the monetary compensation awarded to the wholesaler for connecting the original seller with the end buyer.

Again, any contract used to disclose a wholesale deal should be completely transparent, and including the assignment fee is no exception. The terms of how an investor will be paid upon assigning a contract should, nonetheless, be spelled out in the contract itself.

The standard assignment fee is $5,000. However, every deal is different. Buyers differ on their needs and criteria for spending their money (e.g., rehabbing vs. buy-and-hold buyers). As with any negotiations , proper information is vital. Take the time to find out how much the property would realistically cost before and after repairs. Then, add your preferred assignment fee on top of it.

Traditionally, investors will receive a deposit when they sign the Assignment of Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement . The rest of the assignment fee will be paid out upon the deal closing.

Assignment Contract Vs Double Close

The real estate assignment contract strategy is just one of the two methods investors may use to wholesale a deal. In addition to assigning contracts, investors may also choose to double close. While both strategies are essentially variations of a wholesale deal, several differences must be noted.

A double closing, otherwise known as a back-to-back closing, will have investors actually purchase the home. However, instead of holding onto it, they will immediately sell the asset without rehabbing it. Double closings aren’t as traditional as fast as contract assignment, but they can be in the right situation. Double closings can also take as long as a few weeks. In the end, double closings aren’t all that different from a traditional buy and sell; they transpire over a meeter of weeks instead of months.

Assignment real estate strategies are usually the first option investors will want to consider, as they are slightly easier and less involved. That said, real estate assignment contract methods aren’t necessarily better; they are just different. The wholesale strategy an investor chooses is entirely dependent on their situation. For example, if a buyer cannot line up funding fast enough, they may need to initiate a double closing because they don’t have the capital to pay the acquisition costs and assignment fee. Meanwhile, select institutional lenders incorporate language against lending money in an assignment of contract scenario. Therefore, any subsequent wholesale will need to be an assignment of contract.

Double closings and contract assignments are simply two means of obtaining the same end. Neither is better than the other; they are meant to be used in different scenarios.

Flipping Real Estate Contracts

Those unfamiliar with the real estate contract assignment concept may know it as something else: flipping real estate contracts; if for nothing else, the two are one-in-the-same. Flipping real estate contracts is simply another way to refer to assigning a contract.

Is An Assignment Of Contract Legal?

Yes, an assignment of contract is legal when executed correctly. Wholesalers must follow local laws regulating the language of contracts, as some jurisdictions have more regulations than others. It is also becoming increasingly common to assign contracts to a legal entity or LLC rather than an individual, to prevent objections from the bank. Note that you will need written consent from all parties listed on the contract, and there cannot be any clauses present that violate the law. If you have any questions about the specific language to include in a contract, it’s always a good idea to consult a qualified real estate attorney.

When Will Assignments Not Be Enforced?

In certain cases, an assignment of contract will not be enforced. Most notably, if the contract violates the law or any local regulations it cannot be enforced. This is why it is always encouraged to understand real estate laws and policy as soon as you enter the industry. Further, working with a qualified attorney when crafting contracts can be beneficial.

It may seem obvious, but assignment contracts will not be enforced if the language is used incorrectly. If the language in a contract contradicts itself, or if the contract is not legally binding it cannot be enforced. Essentially if there is any anti-assignment language, this can void the contract. Finally, if the assignment violates what is included under the contract, for example by devaluing the item, the contract will likely not be enforced.

How To Assign A Real Estate Contract

A wholesaling investment strategy that utilizes assignment contracts has many advantages, one of them being a low barrier-to-entry for investors. However, despite its inherent profitability, there are a lot of investors that underestimate the process. While probably the easiest exit strategy in all of real estate investing, there are a number of steps that must be taken to ensure a timely and profitable contract assignment, not the least of which include:

Find the right property

Acquire a real estate contract template

Submit the contract

Assign the contract

Collect the fee

1. Find The Right Property

You need to prune your leads, whether from newspaper ads, online marketing, or direct mail marketing. Remember, you aren’t just looking for any seller: you need a motivated seller who will sell their property at a price that works with your investing strategy.

The difference between a regular seller and a motivated seller is the latter’s sense of urgency. A motivated seller wants their property sold now. Pick a seller who wants to be rid of their property in the quickest time possible. It could be because they’re moving out of state, or they want to buy another house in a different area ASAP. Or, they don’t want to live in that house anymore for personal reasons. The key is to know their motivation for selling and determine if that intent is enough to sell immediately.

With a better idea of who to buy from, wholesalers will have an easier time exercising one of several marketing strategies:

Direct Mail

Real Estate Meetings

Local Marketing

2. Acquire A Real Estate Contract Template

Real estate assignment contract templates are readily available online. Although it’s tempting to go the DIY route, it’s generally advisable to let a lawyer see it first. This way, you will have the comfort of knowing you are doing it right, and that you have counsel in case of any legal problems along the way.

One of the things proper wholesale real estate contracts add is the phrase “and/or assigns” next to your name. This clause will give you the authority to sell the property or assign the property to another buyer.

You do need to disclose this to the seller and explain the clause if needed. Assure them that they will still get the amount you both agreed upon, but it gives you deal flexibility down the road.

3. Submit The Contract

Depending on your state’s laws, you need to submit your real estate assignment contract to a title company, or a closing attorney, for a title search. These are independent parties that look into the history of a property, seeing that there are no liens attached to the title. They then sign off on the validity of the contract.

4. Assign The Contract

Finding your buyer, similar to finding a seller, requires proper segmentation. When searching for buyers, investors should exercise several avenues, including online marketing, listing websites, or networking groups. In the real estate industry, this process is called building a buyer’s list, and it is a crucial step to finding success in assigning contracts.

Once you have found a buyer (hopefully from your ever-growing buyer’s list), ensure your contract includes language that covers earnest money to be paid upfront. This grants you protection against a possible breach of contract. This also assures you that you will profit, whether the transaction closes or not, as earnest money is non-refundable. How much it is depends on you, as long as it is properly justified.

5. Collect The Fee

Your profit from a deal of this kind comes from both your assignment fee, as well as the difference between the agreed-upon value and how much you sell it to the buyer. If you and the seller decide you will buy the property for $75,000 and sell it for $80,000 to the buyer, you profit $5,000. The deal is closed once the buyer pays the full $80,000.

real estate assignment contract

Assignment of Contract Pros

For many investors, the most attractive benefit of an assignment of contract is the ability to profit without ever purchasing a property. This is often what attracts people to start wholesaling, as it allows many to learn the ropes of real estate with relatively low stakes. An assignment fee can either be determined as a percentage of the purchase price or as a set amount determined by the wholesaler. A standard fee is around $5,000 per contract.

The profit potential is not the only positive associated with an assignment of contract. Investors also benefit from not being added to the title chain, which can greatly reduce the costs and timeline associated with a deal. This benefit can even transfer to the seller and end buyer, as they get to avoid paying a real estate agent fee by opting for an assignment of contract. Compared to a double close (another popular wholesaling strategy), investors can avoid two sets of closing costs. All of these pros can positively impact an investor’s bottom line, making this a highly desirable exit strategy.

Assignment of Contract Cons

Although there are numerous perks to an assignment of contract, there are a few downsides to be aware of before searching for your first wholesale deal. Namely, working with buyers and sellers who may not be familiar with wholesaling can be challenging. Investors need to be prepared to familiarize newcomers with the process and be ready to answer any questions. Occasionally, sellers will purposely not accept an assignment of contract situation. Investors should occasionally expect this, as to not get discouraged.

Another obstacle wholesalers may face when working with an assignment of contract is in cases where the end buyer wants to back out. This can happen if the buyer is not comfortable paying the assignment fee, or if they don’t have owner’s rights until the contract is fully assigned. The best way to protect yourself from situations like this is to form a reliable buyer’s list and be upfront with all of the information. It is always recommended to develop a solid contract as well.

Know that not all properties can be wholesaled, for example HUD houses. In these cases, there are often anti-assigned clauses preventing wholesalers from getting involved. Make sure you know how to identify these properties so you don’t waste your time. Keep in mind that while there are cons to this real estate exit strategy, the right preparation can help investors avoid any big challenges.

Assignment of Contract Template

If you decide to pursue a career wholesaling real estate, then you’ll want the tools that will make your life as easy as possible. The good news is that there are plenty of real estate tools and templates at your disposal so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! For instance, here is an assignment of contract template that you can use when you strike your first deal.

As with any part of the real estate investing trade, no single aspect will lead to success. However, understanding how a real estate assignment of contract works is vital for this business. When you comprehend the many layers of how contracts are assigned—and how wholesaling works from beginning to end—you’ll be a more informed, educated, and successful investor.

Click the banner below to take a 90-minute online training class and get started learning how to invest in today’s real estate market!

assignment of interest in real estate

Wholetailing: A Guide For Real Estate Investors

What is chain of title in real estate investing, what is a real estate fund of funds (fof), reits vs real estate: which is the better investment, multi-family vs. single-family property investments: a comprehensive guide, what is reverse wholesaling: a guide for real estate investors.

Assignment of Lease

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What is an assignment of lease.

The assignment of lease is a title document that transfers all rights possessed by a lessee or tenant to a property to another party. The assignee takes the assignor’s place in the landlord-tenant relationship.

You can view an example of a lease assignment here .

How Lease Assignment Works

In cases where a tenant wants to or needs to get out of their lease before it expires, lease assignment provides a legal option to assign or transfer rights of the lease to someone else. For instance, if in a commercial lease a business leases a place for 12 months but the business moves or shuts down after 10 months, the person can transfer the lease to someone else through an assignment of the lease. In this case, they will not have to pay rent for the last two months as the new assigned tenant will be responsible for that.

However, before the original tenant can be released of any responsibilities associated with the lease, other requirements need to be satisfied. The landlord needs to consent to the lease transfer through a “License to Assign” document. It is crucial to complete this document before moving on to the assignment of lease as the landlord may refuse to approve the assignment.

Difference Between Assignment of Lease and Subletting

A transfer of the remaining interest in a lease, also known as assignment, is possible when implied rights to assign exist. Some leases do not allow assignment or sharing of possessions or property under a lease. An assignment ensures the complete transfer of the rights to the property from one tenant to another.

The assignor is no longer responsible for rent or utilities and other costs that they might have had under the lease. Here, the assignee becomes the tenant and takes over all responsibilities such as rent. However, unless the assignee is released of all liabilities by the landlord, they remain responsible if the new tenant defaults.

A sublease is a new lease agreement between the tenant (or the sublessor) and a third-party (or the sublessee) for a portion of the lease. The original lease agreement between the landlord and the sublessor (or original tenant) still remains in place. The original tenant still remains responsible for all duties set under the lease.

Here are some key differences between subletting and assigning a lease:

  • Under a sublease, the original lease agreement still remains in place.
  • The original tenant retains all responsibilities under a sublease agreement.
  • A sublease can be for less than all of the property, such as for a room, general area, portion of the leased premises, etc.
  • Subleasing can be for a portion of the lease term. For instance, a tenant can sublease the property for a month and then retain it after the third-party completes their month-long sublet.
  • Since the sublease agreement is between the tenant and the third-party, rent is often negotiable, based on the term of the sublease and other circumstances.
  • The third-party in a sublease agreement does not have a direct relationship with the landlord.
  • The subtenant will need to seek consent of both the tenant and the landlord to make any repairs or changes to the property during their sublease.

Here is more on an assignment of lease here .

assignment of interest in real estate

Parties Involved in Lease Assignment

There are three parties involved in a lease assignment – the landlord or owner of the property, the assignor and the assignee. The original lease agreement is between the landlord and the tenant, or the assignor. The lease agreement outlines the duties and responsibilities of both parties when it comes to renting the property. Now, when the tenant decides to assign the lease to a third-party, the third-party is known as the assignee. The assignee takes on the responsibilities laid under the original lease agreement between the assignor and the landlord. The landlord must consent to the assignment of the lease prior to the assignment.

For example, Jake is renting a commercial property for his business from Paul for two years beginning January 2013 up until January 2015. In January 2014, Jake suffers a financial crisis and has to close down his business to move to a different city. Jake doesn’t want to continue paying rent on the property as he will not be using it for a year left of the lease. Jake’s friend, John would soon be turning his digital business into a brick-and-mortar store. John has been looking for a space to kick start his venture. Jake can assign his space for the rest of the lease term to John through an assignment of lease. Jake will need to seek the approval of his landlord and then begin the assignment process. Here, Jake will be the assignor who transfers all his lease related duties and responsibilities to John, who will be the assignee.

You can read more on lease agreements here .

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Assignment of Lease From Seller to Buyer

In case of a residential property, a landlord can assign his leases to the new buyer of the building. The landlord will assign the right to collect rent to the buyer. This will allow the buyer to collect any and all rent from existing tenants in that property. This assignment can also include the assignment of security deposits, if the parties agree to it. This type of assignment provides protection to the buyer so they can collect rent on the property.

The assignment of a lease from the seller to a buyer also requires that all tenants are made aware of the sale of the property. The buyer-seller should give proper notice to the tenants along with a notice of assignment of lease signed by both the buyer and the seller. Tenants should also be informed about the contact information of the new landlord and the payment methods to be used to pay rent to the new landlord.

You can read more on buyer-seller lease assignments here .

Get Help with an Assignment of Lease

Do you have any questions about a lease assignment and want to speak to an expert? Post a project today on ContractsCounsel and receive bids from real estate lawyers who specialize in lease assignment.

Meet some of our Assignment of Lease Lawyers

Brian R. on ContractsCounsel

Brian C. Restivo, the managing member of Restivo Legal, PLLC, has been licensed by the State Bar of Texas and continuously practicing as an attorney since November of 2000. Over these years, he has represented customers across the spectrum - from a Fortune 500 company to individuals - and is seasoned at tailoring his services to the unique needs of each customer.

Linda W. on ContractsCounsel

o Experience includes meeting with clients, numerous court appearances and mediations concluded with successful settlements. Exceptional communication skills both oral and written. Available to travel…. Flexible schedule. A general practice with emphasis in contracts of any nature, landlord/tenant/ real estate, leases, prenuptial and antenuptial agreements, wills and trusts, collections, business..... * In addition, Florida Real Estate License with extensive experience in this area as well. • o Skills: Legal Matters · Legal Practice · Interpersonal Skills · Employment Contracts · Time Management · Mediation · Legal Document Preparation · Commercial Contracts · Writing · Dispute Resolution · Attention to Detail · Real Estate · Contract Negotiation · Due Diligence · Breach of Contract · Analytical Skills

Jacob W. on ContractsCounsel

Background in Engineering, Masters in Business, Licensed Patent Attorney. Reviewed countless title reports, and land contracts. If you have a problem with Real Estate I can solve it.

Jeffrey J. on ContractsCounsel

I have been in business development for 15 years before becoming an attorney. As an attorney, I help companies navigate legal challenges that they face.

Anthony V. on ContractsCounsel

Anthony M. Verna III, is the managing partner at Verna Law, P.C. With a strong focus on Trademark, Copyright, Domain Names, Entertainment, and Advertising law, Verna Law, P.C. strives to provide all Intellectual Property services a modern business of any size may need to market and promote itself better. From the very early concept stage, Verna Law, P.C. can conduct a comprehensive, all-encompassing search and analysis on any proposed trademark to head off complications. Once the proposed concept enters the Alpha stage, Verna Law, P.C. can seamlessly switch to handling registration, protection, and if needed, defense of registered trademarks, copyrights, and domain names, as well as prosecution of entities violating said rights. Verna Law, P.C. also provides intellectual property counseling and services tailored to fit into your business’ comprehensive growth strategy. This shows as many of Verna Law, P.C.’s clients are international: from China, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany, Verna Law’s reach is worldwide. Additionally, Verna Law, P.C., can handle your business’ Entertainment and Advertising law needs by helping your business create advertising and promotions that keep competitors and regulators at bay. Located in the shadow of New York City, Verna Law, P.C. has a global reach that will provide clients with the most vigorous Intellectual Property advocate available. Anthony M. Verna III is a member of the New York and New Jersey Bars, as well as the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York. He is a sought-after business speaker, including regular appearances at the World Board Gaming Championships, Business Marketing Association of New Jersey, and Columbian Lawyers Association.

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I am an experienced New York Attorney pleased to offer my services to clients who are seeking assistance with startup consulting and/or business related legal work. My expertise in both of these areas allows me to provide comprehensive legal support to entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes.

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Contract to lease land from a church.

I’m planning on leasing land from a church. Putting a gym on the property. And leasing it back to the school.

assignment of interest in real estate

Ok; first step is that you will need a leasing contract with the church. Ask them to prepare one for you so you would just need an attorney to review the agreement and that should cost less than if you had to be the party to pay a lawyer to draft it from scratch. You need to ensure that the purpose of the lease is clearly stated - that you plan to put a gym on the land so that there are no issues if the church leadership changes. Step 2 - you will need a lease agreement with the school that your leasing it do (hopefully one that is similar to the original one your received from the church). Again, please ensure that all the terms that you discuss and agree to are in the document; including length of time, price and how to resolve disputes if you have one. I hope this is helpful. If you would like me to assist you further, you can contact me on Contracts Counsel and we can discuss a fee for my services. Regards, Donya Ramsay (Gordon)

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General Principles of Assignments in Real Estate Transactions

Assume a seller, ABC Company, enters into a contract to sell a parcel of land (referred to here as “Blackacre”) to Ms. Green. Ms. Green subsequently assigns her interest in the contract to Mr. Smith. Such assignments of contracts of purchase and sale raise a number of practical issues—e.g. notice to the seller, payment for the assignment, and transfer of the deposit—that affect not only the seller but also the original purchaser and the eventual purchaser. A party wishing to assign its interest in a contract of purchase and sale to a new party should not assume that the matter is as simple as entering into an assignment with the new party and then walking away and forgetting about the contract.

A real estate contract will often contain provisions that limit or prohibit an assignment of a party’s interest in the contract. If the contract is silent as to the rights to the parties to assign their interests in the contract, then the rights of the parties, with few exceptions, can be assigned. Normally, assignments of contracts relating to the purchase and sale of real estate involve the purchaser assigning its interest in the contract; however, it is not unheard of to have the seller assign its interest in the contract.

In our scenario, to be binding on it as the seller, ABC Company must be given notice of the assignment, although it does not have to receive a copy of the assignment or the business terms relating to the assignment. If ABC Company has been given notice that Ms. Green’s interest in the contract has been assigned, it may be concerned that she is ‘flipping’ her interest in the contract for a profit. Consequently, ABC Company may wish to seek advice as to whether the contract is enforceable.

Assuming that Mr. Smith is paying Ms. Green a specified amount of money for the assignment, the question arises as to when this money will be paid. Ms. Green will want the money to be paid when they enter into the assignment but Mr. Smith will want to pay at the time that they complete the purchase and sale of Blackacre. In most cases, the latter time period is the norm but, in any case, money paid for an assignment is subject to the Goods and Services Tax.

Ms. Green will likely have paid a deposit to ABC Company pursuant to the contract and will want the deposit to be repaid to her at the time of the assignment rather than having to wait until the purchase and sale of Blackacre is completed. It would not be unusual for Mr. Smith to reimburse the deposit to Ms. Green at the time that they enter into the assignment.

Mr. Smith should look to obtain assurances by way of representations and warranties from Ms. Green that the contract to purchase Blackacre is in full force and effect and that her interest can be assigned to him. In turn, Ms. Green should look to obtain representations and warranties from Mr. Smith that he will fulfill her obligations to complete the purchase of Blackacre since an assignment will not release Ms. Green of her obligations under the contract unless such release is specifically provided for—and has been agreed to by ABC Company.

Frequently, and contrary to the scenario presented here, a contract for a real estate transaction will often limit the right of the purchaser to assign its interest in the contract. A common limitation is that “. . . the purchaser may only assign its interest in the contract with the consent of the seller, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld.” In most cases, it would not be unreasonable for the seller to insist that the assignee contract directly with the seller to fulfill the obligations of the assignor under the contract so that, if there is a default, the seller has the right to seek remedies against both the assignor and the assignee.

So long as all parties to a contract of purchase and sale are aware of their rights and obligations, the completion of a purchase and sale where a contract has been assigned can and should proceed in a straightforward manner.

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Assignment of Contract – Assignable Contract Basics for Real Estate Investors

What is assignment of contract? Learn about this wholesaling strategy and why assignment agreements are the preferred solution for flipping real estate contracts.

assignment of interest in real estate

Beginners to investing in real estate and wholesaling must navigate a complex landscape littered with confusing terms and strategies. One of the first concepts to understand before wholesaling is assignment of contract, also known as assignment of agreement or “flipping real estate contracts.”  

An assignment contract is the most popular exit strategy for wholesalers, and it isn’t as complicated as it may seem. What does assignment of contract mean? How can it be used to get into wholesaling? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Assignment of Contract?

How assignment of contract works in real estate wholesaling, what is an assignment fee in real estate, assignment of agreement pros & cons, assignable contract faqs.

  • Transactly Saves Time. Learn How Now!

Assignment of real estate purchase and sale agreement, or simply assignment of agreement or contract, is a real estate wholesale strategy that facilitates a sale between the property owner and the end buyer.

This strategy is also known as flipping real estate contracts because that’s essentially how it works:

  • The wholesaler finds a property that’s already discounted or represents a great deal and enters into a contract with the seller,
  • The contract contains an assignment clause that allows the wholesaler to assign the contract to someone else (if they choose to!), then
  • The wholesaler can assign the contract to another party and receive an assignment fee when the transaction closes.

Assignment of contract in real estate is a popular strategy for beginners in real estate investment because it requires very little or even no capital. As long as you can find an interested buyer, you do not need to come up with a large sum of money to buy and then resell the property – you are only selling your right to buy it .

An assignment contract passes along your purchase rights as well as your contract obligations. After the contract assignment, you are no longer involved in the transaction with no right to make claims or responsibilities to get the transaction to closing.

Until you assign contract to someone else, however, you are completely on the hook for all contract responsibilities and rights.

This means that you are in control of the deal until you decide to assign the contract, but if you aren’t able to get someone to take over the contract, you are legally obligated to follow through with the sale .

Assignment of Contract vs Double Closing

Double closing and assignment of agreement are the two main real estate wholesaling exit strategies. Unlike the double closing strategy, an assignment contract does not require the wholesaler to purchase the property.

Assignment of contract is usually the preferred option because it can be completed in hours and does not require you to fund the purchase . Double closings take twice as much work and require a great deal of coordination. They are also illegal in some states.

Ready to see how an assignment contract actually works? Even though it has a low barrier to entry for beginner investors, the challenges of completing an assignment of contract shouldn’t be underestimated. Here are the general steps involved in wholesaling.

Step #1. Find a seller/property

The process begins by finding a property that you think is a good deal or a good investment and entering into a purchase agreement with the seller. Of course, not just any property is suitable for this strategy. You need to find a motivated seller willing to accept an assignment agreement and a price that works with your strategy. Direct mail marketing, online marketing, and checking the county delinquent tax list are just a few possible lead generation strategies you can employ.

Step #2: Enter into an assignable contract

The contract with the seller will be almost the same as a standard purchase agreement except it will contain an assignment clause.

An important element in an assignable purchase contract is “ and/or assigns ” next to your name as the buyer . The term “assigns” is used here as a noun to refer to a potential assignee. This is a basic assignment clause authorizing you to transfer your position and rights in the contract to an assignee if you choose.

The contract must also follow local laws regulating contract language. In some jurisdictions, assignment of contract is not allowed. It’s becoming increasingly common for wholesalers to assign agreements to an LLC instead of an individual. In this case, the LLC would be under contract with the seller. This can potentially bypass lender objections and even anti-assignment clauses for distressed properties. Rather than assigning the contract to someone else, the investor can reassign their interest in the LLC through an “assignment of membership interest.”

Note: even the presence of an assignment clause can make some sellers nervous or unwilling to make a deal . The seller may be picky about whom they want to buy the property, or they may be suspicious or concerned about the concept of assigning a contract to an unknown third party who may or may not be able to complete the sale.

The assignment clause should always be disclosed and explained to the seller. If they are nervous, they can be assured that they will still get the agreed-upon amount.

Step #3. Submit the assignment contract for a title search

Once you are under contract, you must typically submit the contract to a title company to perform the title search. This ensures there are no liens attached to the property.

Step #4. Find an end buyer to assign the contract

Next is the most challenging step: finding a buyer who can fulfill the contract’s original terms including the closing date and purchase price.

Successful wholesalers build buyers lists and employ marketing campaigns, social media, and networking to find a good match for an assignable contract.

Once you locate an end buyer, your contract should include earnest money the buyer must pay upfront. This gives you some protection if the buyer breaches the contract and, potentially, causes you to breach your contract with the seller. With a non-refundable deposit, you can be sure your earnest money to the seller will be covered in a worst-case scenario.

You can see an assignment of contract example here between an assignor and assignee.

Step #5. Receive your assignment fee

The final step is receiving your assignment fee. This fee is your profit from the transaction, and it’s usually paid when the transaction closes.

The assignment fee is how the wholesaler makes money through an assignment contract. This fee is paid by the end buyer when they purchase the right to buy the property as compensation for being connected to the original seller. Assignment contracts should clearly spell out the assignment fee and how it will be paid.

An assignment fee in real estate replaces the broker or Realtor fee in a typical transaction as the assignor or investor is bringing together the seller and end buyer.

The standard real estate assignment fee is $5,000 . However, it varies by transaction and calculating the assignment fee may be higher or lower depending on whether the buyer is buying and holding the property or rehabbing and flipping.

The assignment fee is not always a flat amount. The difference between the agreed-upon price with the seller and the end buyer is the profit you stand to earn as the assignor. If you agreed to purchase the property for $150,000 from the seller and assign the contract to a buyer for $200,000, your assignment fee or profit would be $50,000.

In most cases, an investor receives a deposit when the Assignment of Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed with the rest paid at closing.

Be aware that assignment agreements can have a bad reputation . This is usually the case when the end buyer and seller are unsatisfied, realizing they could have sold higher or bought lower and essentially paid thousands to an investor who never even wanted to buy the property.

Opting for the standard, flat assignment fee is much more readily accepted by sellers and buyers as it’s comparable to a real estate agent’s commission or even much lower and the parties can avoid working with an agent.

Real estate investors enjoy many benefits of an assignment of contract:

  • This strategy requires little or no capital which makes it a popular entry to wholesaling as investors learn the ropes.
  • Investors are not added to the title chain and never own the property which reduces costs and the amount of time the deal takes.
  • An assignment of agreement is easier and faster than double closing which requires two separate closings and two sets of fees and disclosures.
  • Wholesaling can be a great tool to expand an investor’s network for future opportunities.

As with most things, there are important drawbacks to consider. Before jumping into wholesaling and flipping real estate contracts, consider the downsides .

  • It can be difficult to work with sellers and buyers who are not familiar with wholesaling or assignment agreements.
  • Some sellers avoid or decline assignment of contract offers because they are suspicious of the arrangement, think it is too risky, or want to know who they are selling to.
  • There is a limited time to find an end buyer. Without a reliable buyer’s list, it can be very challenging to find a viable end buyer before the closing date.
  • The end buyer may back out at the last minute. This may happen if they do not have owner’s rights until the contract is assigned or they do not want to pay an assignment fee.
  • Not all properties are eligible for wholesaling like HUD and REO properties. There may be anti-assignment clauses or other hurdles. It is possible to get around this by purchasing the property with an LLC which can then be sold, but this is a level of complication that many wholesalers want to avoid.
  • Assignors do not have owner’s rights. When the property is under contract, investors cannot make repairs or improvements. This makes it harder to assign a contract for a distressed property in poor condition.
  • It can be hard to confirm an end buyer is qualified. The end buyer is responsible for paying the agreed upon price set by the seller and assignor. Many lenders do not handle assignment agreements which usually means turning to all-cash end buyers. Depending on the market, they can be hard to find.

In the worst-case scenario, if a wholesaling deal falls through because the end buyer backs out, the investor or assignor is still responsible for buying the property and must follow through with the purchase agreement. If you do not, you are in breach of contract and lose the earnest money you put down.

To avoid this worst-case scenario, be prepared with a good buyer’s list. You should only put properties under contract that you consider a good deal and you can market to other investors or homeowners. You may be able to get more time by asking for an extension to the assignment of contract while you find another buyer or even turn to other wholesalers to see if they have someone who would be a good fit.

What is the difference between assignor vs assignee?

In an assignment clause, the assignor is the buyer who then assigns the contract to an assignee. The assignee is the end buyer or final buyer who becomes the owner when the transaction closes. After the assignment, contract rights and obligations are transferred from the assignor to the assignee.

What Is an assignable contract?

An assignable contract in real estate is a purchase agreement that allows the buyer to assign their rights and obligations to another party before the contract expires. The assignee then becomes obligated to meet the terms of the contract and, at closing, get title to the property.

Is Assignment of Agreement Legal?

Assignment of contract is legal as long as state regulations are followed and it’s an assignable contract. The terms of your agreement with the seller must allow for the contract to be assumed. To be legal and enforceable, the following general requirements must be met.

  • The assignment does not violate state law or public policy. In some states and jurisdictions, contract assignments are prohibited.
  • There is no assignment clause prohibiting assignment.
  • There is written consent between all parties.
  • The property does not have restrictions prohibiting assignment. Some properties have deed restrictions or anti-assignment clauses prohibiting assignment of contract within a specific period of time. This includes HUD properties, short sales, and REO properties which usually prohibit a property from being resold for 90 days. There is potentially a way around these non-assignable contracts using an LLC.

Can a non-assignable contract still be assigned?

Even an non-assignable contract can become an assignable contract in some cases. A common approach is creating an agreement with an LLC or trust as the purchaser. The investor can then assign the entity to someone else because the contractual rights and obligations are the entity’s.

Assignment agreements are not as complicated as they may sound, and they offer an excellent entry into real estate investing without significant capital. A transaction coordinator at Transactly can be an invaluable solution, no matter your volume, to keep your wholesaling business on track and facilitate every step of the transaction to closing – and your assignment fee!

Adam Valley

Adam Valley

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Arizona School of Real Estate and Business

Arizona School of Real Estate and Business

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Assignments of Buyer’s Rights Under Purchase Agreements

June 16, 2014, by michael t. denious.

Often in the course of a real estate transaction, the named buyer under the purchase agreement will seek to assign its rights as buyer to another party, referred to as the assignee. In connection with such assignment, the assignor/buyer transfers any and all rights as buyer under the subject purchase agreement to the assignee, usually in exchange for payment or other consideration given by the assignee to the assignor. As a result, the initial “buyer” is making its profit as of or prior to the closing of the sale, rather than having to take ownership and resell the property to a new buyer. This practice is often referred to as “wholesaling,” and is growing more and more prevalent, including in “short sale” transactions in which the existing mortgage holders agree to accept less than the full amount owed on the mortgage(s) and the seller does not receive any proceeds from the sale (other than those funds paid toward commissions, closing costs and the mortgage(s)).

The general rule under Arizona law is that a buyer’s interest in a real estate purchase agreement is freely assignable, absent restrictions or prohibitions in the underlying purchase agreement to the contrary. Many real estate purchase agreements, especially those drafted in a seller-oriented fashion, will contain such restrictions or prohibitions, such as restrictions against assignments to any other party except for affiliated or related entities, or a flat out prohibition against any assignments without seller’s prior written consent. Many other real estate purchase contract forms, however, including the standard form AAR purchase agreements (including the one used for residential real estate transactions with the “short sale” addendum) contain no such prohibition or restriction.

In the absence of restrictions or prohibitions against assignment in the underlying purchase agreement, and assuming there are no grounds for the seller to object or condition such an assignment, an assignment may be accomplished in as simple as one sentence. The buyer assigns any and all rights, title, and/or interest in the underlying purchase agreement, the escrow, and the underlying real property, to the named assignee. In many cases, however, there may be various reasons, both due to concerns of the buyer/assignor and the new assignee/buyer, that make various additional provisions in an assignment document advisable. What follows is a sample format that addresses various issues that would be of concern to the assignor (original buyer) when assigning the buyer’s rights over to an assignee buyer, including in the context of a “short sale” transaction in which the assignor (original buyer) is a “wholesaler” who seeks to make a profit from the assignment rather than closing on the purchase of the property.

THIS Assignment and Assumption of Buyer’s Rights Under Purchase Contract and Seller’s Consent (“Assignment”) is entered into between ________________, (“Assignor”); and _______________________ (“Assignee”), for Ten Dollars ($10.00) and other valuable consideration, with the consent of the undersigned Seller, and on the following terms and conditions:

1. This Assignment shall be effective as of _________, 2008 (“Assignment Effective Date”).

2. This Assignment pertains to that certain Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract dated as of _____________, and any Addenda or Amendments thereto (hereinafter together the “Purchase Contract”), under which Assignor is Buyer and __________________ are Seller; and under which Buyer has the right to purchase that real property identified as the “Property” therein. The Purchase Contract is being administered pursuant to an escrow (the “Escrow”) established by Assignor and Seller _________________ (the “Escrow”).

3. Assignor hereby nominates Assignee as the substitute “Buyer” under the Purchase Contract. Assignor further assigns to Assignee Assignor’s entire right, title and interest in, to and under the Purchase Contract, the Property and the Escrow.

4. Assignor further assigns to Assignee any of its right, title and interest in or to any and all “Earnest Money” deposited in the Escrow pursuant to the Purchase Contract.

5. Seller acknowledges and agrees that Assignor is not in default under the Purchase Contract, and that the Purchase Contract remains enforceable in accordance with its terms.

6. Assignee hereby accepts the foregoing assignment and agrees to be bound by the terms and conditions of the Purchase Contract and assume the obligations of Buyer under the Purchase Contract.

7. This Assignment shall relieve Assignor of any and all duties, obligations or liabilities under the Purchase Contract.

8. Except as otherwise expressly modified herein, the terms and provisions of the Purchase Contract shall remain in full force and effect.

9. By its signature hereto, Seller consents to the terms of this Assignment, and represents and warrants that to the best of Seller’s knowledge there are no grounds to claim a default of Buyer under the Purchase Contract, and that the Purchase Contract remains enforceable in accordance with its terms as of the Assignment Effective Date.

10. Seller further expressly acknowledges that in connection with this Assignment, Assignor is acting on its own account and not on behalf of Seller, and is receiving separate consideration from Assignee, and therefore is receiving a profit from this transaction. Seller claims no interest in such consideration.

[Signatures of parties to follow]

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assignment of interest in real estate

Assignment of Interest for real estate investors

There are a wide variety of situations where assigning all or part of the interest of a company can benefit the business as a whole. How this process looks is governed by state law as well as the Articles of Organization for your particular LLC. Some common reasons you may need an Assignment of Interest include the below scenarios.

assignment of interest in real estate

Sometimes members of an LLC will use their shares of the company as collateral for a loan. This is a fairly common practice in the real estate industry. Members may assign all or merely a portion of their interest in this situation.

Forming companies and purchasing properties is expensive. Occasionally, members of an LLC may assign a portion of their interest in a company until their profits have satisfied a personal debt.

There are a wide range of reasons you may choose to assign your interest in your company to a trusted partner or family member. Marriage, death, or other major life events can raise this issue.

assignment of interest in real estate

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WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ASSIGNMENT OF INTEREST?

An Assignment of Interest is the legal means for transferring the ownership of an LLC or other Company is from one entity to another. Typically, there are additional complications regarding under what conditions and what approvals are necessary in order to enforce the assignment. These conditions and approvals are located in the Subscription or Operating Agreement of the investment.

ROYAL LEGAL SOLUTIONS CAN ASSIST YOU WITH MANY ASSIGNMENT OF INTEREST NEEDS

If your Assignment of Interest is part of a greater issue with forming or managing your Traditional LLC or Series LLC , Royal Legal Solutions can assist you. We have years of experience forming these companies and managing the necessary paperwork. We also offer free educational resources on the best practices for corporate management, taxes, and asset protection . Our belief that informed clients are the best kind of clients drives us to offer regularly updated, accurate free materials to help you get the most out of your professional LLC. Forming your LLC with Royal Legal Solutions can simplify the process of assigning interest, as we will be the ones to draft your Articles of Organization. If you know this will be a concern for you, be certain that you advise the professional you work with of your situation when forming your LLC.

Do you have asset protection questions? We can help!

Why you should choose royal legal solutions for your assignment of interest.

It is well worth the investment to ensure that your Assignment of Interest and other legal documents are properly drafted by professionals.

BEWARE OF “FREE” ONLINE TEMPLATES

One mistake that some investors fall for is attempting to draft their own contracts or pulling them from free online services. Perhaps you have seen that you can get certain templates for legal documents, including Assignments of Interest, from Legalzoom or another website. Any attorney will caution you against using these for your business. Ultimately, these “free” documents can cost you a great deal of money in the end. Anyone can write something and give it away on the internet. So that document may have been penned by an attorney who makes $1500 an hour, or it may have been a school exercise for a student who does not speak English as a first language. Frankly, it is impossible to know the source of such documents and they should be regarded with suspicion. Only an attorney with experience in the real estate field can tell you whether such a document would hold up under legal scrutiny. In fact, we have been called after clients of ours have made this mistake. Trying to correct errors in legal documents after the fact is infinitely more difficult, time consuming, and costly to the client than hiring a professional to handle the document in the first place.

OUR EXPERIENCED LEGAL PROFESSIONALS ADVOCATE FOR YOU

When you get your Assignment of Interest from Royal Legal Solutions, you do not have to live with these anxieties. You can rest assured that your document does exactly what it needs to do, and will protect your best interests. We know you take your real estate business seriously, that you have invested a great deal of your hard-earned money into growing your investments. Royal Legal Solutions specializes in customizing the necessary legal documents and seamlessly obtaining the approvals to transfer the ownership interests for your LLC. If any of these steps are done incorrectly, the transfer will be invalid. The good news is that we are here so that you do not have to take this unnecessary risk. Simply tell us what you need. Let us worry about how to get it done, while you do what you do best: run your real estate business.

WHY WE ASSIST REAL ESTATE LLC OWNERS WITH ASSIGNMENT OF INTEREST

Whatever your reasons are for needing an Assignment of Interest, Royal Legal Solutions can assist you. We can also help with other operational or legal aspects of your corporate structure if you have additional questions or needs regarding your Traditional LLC or Series LLC. Having an actual real estate attorney draft your LLC’s documents can make the difference between whether they will hold up in court if you ever come under attack. Smart investors don’t have to take this risk. With Royal Legal Solutions by your side, you can feel secure in the fact that your business documents are legally compliant and accomplishing exactly what you need them to.

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We have experience in setting up the proper asset protection and making it easy for an investor to use. Our system simplifies management structure as much as possible, and we also use common sense to ensure your needs are met. For example, just one tip we give our clients is that you don’t need multiple bank accounts as long as you have accurate accounting records. For taxation, they should stay exactly how they are now while being reported on a Schedule E of your personal return (if you’re an individual/married partners) or a partnership return (if unmarried partners).

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Assignments, Disclaimers and Powers of Appointment

          Assignments, Disclaimers and Powers of Appointment can alter the distribution of a decedent’s estate.    

          First what is and who can make an assignment? A person who has a vested — legally enforceable — interest in a decedent’s estate can “assign” – i.e., transfer – part or all of their interest to another. Generally, an inheritance vests upon the decedent’s death.  An assignment is a gift by the assignor making the assignment to the assignee receiving the assigned interest.    Assignments create tax issues for both the assignor and assignee.   

          For example, consider an unmarried father who dies intestate — without a will or trust – and is survived by a son and a daughter — his heirs.  Prior to settling dad’s estate, the son decides to give his one-half share to his sister and signs and notarizes an assignment of inheritance rights.  The assignment is then filed with the Court.  Dad’s estate, less expenses and debts, is distributed entirely to the daughter. 

          If an interest in real property inherited from a parent is assigned then the parent child exclusion from reassessment — for local real property taxes — only applies to the interest(s) belonging to the child(ren) who do not assign their interest(s).  There is no reassessment exclusion for any transfers between siblings.

          Assignments, however, almost never apply to a beneficiary’s interests in a trust.  Usually, a trust prohibits beneficiaries from assigning their interest in the trust before distribution.  The anti-assignment provision protects undistributed trust assets from claims by a beneficiary’s creditors. 

          Next, disclaimers are used when a beneficiary, or heir, refuses to accept a gift or inheritance.  You cannot force someone to receive a gift or an inheritance.  To be valid disclaimers must satisfy the following requirements: be unconditional, be in writing, and be timely (i.e., generally, within nine months of the transfer), and, when real property is involved, also be filed with the county recorder where the real property lies.  Unlike assignments, the person disclaiming their interest cannot say who receives the disclaimed interest.  A disclaimer is not a gift by the person disclaiming.  Lastly, one cannot have accepted any benefits from the property being disclaimed, such as the income from an income producing asset. 

          The person disclaiming their gift or inheritance is treated as if they had predeceased the person who made the gift.  We see who is then entitled to inherit. 

          For example, a decedent’s trust leaves a share of the decedent’s trust estate to a named beneficiary and otherwise, if he does not survive to inherit, to the beneficiary’s descendants by right of representation.  The beneficiary survives and timely disclaims.  The beneficiary’s living descendants would then inherit by right of representation. 

          Unlike assignments and disclaimers, powers of appointment are created within a person’s estate planning, e.g., a trust or will, for future use.  A power of appointment allows the power holder to say who receives a gift/distribution from a trust or an estate.  The power of appointment is either a limited power that allows gifting to certain persons or is a general power that allows gifting to anyone at all, including the power holder, the power holder’s estate and the power holder’s creditors.  Powers of appointment are used for a variety of estate planning reasons. 

          For example, a husband’s and wife’s joint estate planning may give the spouse who survives a limited power of appointment over the deceased spouse’s separate trust estate.  The limited power of appointment might allow the deceased spouse’s estate to be divided equally or unequally amongst the deceased spouse’s children as the surviving spouse sees fit after the deceased spouse’s death.

          Anyone who wants to proceed with making an assignment, a disclaimer or exercise of a power of appointment should consult a qualified attorney.  There are tax and other issues to discuss and drafting requirements to these legal instruments that benefit from the expertise of a qualified attorney. 

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Article overview.

Property interest (PI), also called ownership interest in a property, is an important concept for investors to understand. You need to know the various types of PI and what each one means. In this article, we cover:

What is Property Interest?

  • Legal Aspects 

What You Need to Know

Types of ownership.

  • Examples of Property Interest

Commercial, Rental, and Investment Properties

  • How Assets America Can Help

Frequently Asked Questions

Ownership interest in a property refers to the rights in property of individuals and entities. The topic of property interest encompasses ownership percentage, ownership time period, transfer rights, encumbrance rights, and rights of survivorship.

The two major classes of property interest are:

  • Legal ownership (LO): The right to legal interest in property, i.e., the person or entity with legal title. A recorder of deeds lists the legal owner on the title deed. The owner controls the property, including its transfer or sale.
  • Beneficial ownership (BO): The rights of the person or entity who receives the economic and financial benefits of a property. BO prevails regardless of title entries maintained at the recorder of deeds.

Legal Aspects of Property Interest

Legal ownership gives the titled person or entity the right to control, sell, or transfer a property. The legal owner may be different from the person with a beneficial interest in the property.

Beneficial interest gives you the legal rights to live in a property, collect a share of rental income, and collect a share of sale proceeds.

Frequently, trusts allow separate legal and beneficial owners to share the management of a property . In other words, the party with the title holds the property “on trust” for the benefit of another party. In this case, we call the legal owner the “bare trustee.”

A declaration of trust separates legal ownership from beneficial ownership. The declaration specifies how much BO each tenant in common receives.

Real Property Ownership Law

A sole property owner may want to share benefits with a spouse or other person with no legal property interest. Accordingly, the legal owner can give a part of the ownership interest in a property to a beneficiary. Then the beneficiary can receive a share of sale proceeds or rental income.

How Assets America ® Can Help

Assets America ® can help you purchase or construct a property, whatever the form of ownership. We are a high-end, national commercial brokerage firm, arranging loans starting at a minimum of $10 million. We invite you to contact us for a confidential consultation to discuss your financial requirements.  Please call our offices today at (206) 622-3000 , or simply fill out the below form for a prompt response!

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There are several types of ownership interest in a property. They are as follows:

1. Fee Simple

This is outright ownership by one or more parties with all beneficial rights. We also call it freehold and fee simple absolute. Owners have title to the property, including land and improvements. Short of foreclosure or condemnation, the owner of fee simple property cannot lose his property. Fee simple owners have full latitude when deciding how to use the property.

2. Ground Lease

A property owner can sell a ground lease to a lessee in return for compensation and rent. However, the buyer does not own the improved land, but rather has a beneficial interest for a specified period.

When the lease expires, the land and perhaps the improvements revert to the owner. The lease can restrict the maintenance, use, and alteration of the leased premises. Also, the lease can require periodic rent increases.

If you’re interested to learn more, read our Ground Leases – Everything You Need to Know .

3. Life Estates

Life estates are beneficiary tenants that have 100% beneficial interest during their lifetimes or the lifetimes of another party. The property owner grants the life estate to the beneficiary tenant via a deed. Frequently, the grantor and beneficiary are the same person.

After death, the property goes to the “remainder” person, who may be the grantor if different from the beneficiary. We can also refer to life estates as life tenants or tenants for life. Beneficiaries cannot sell life properties during their lifetimes. The life estate ends when the beneficiary dies.

The purpose of a life estate is to pass a property to the remainder person without probate. In other words, the life estate is not part of the tenant’s estate. You can use a life estate when the property’s rental value exceeds a lump-sum inheritance.

The remainder person must agree before the tenant can mortgage or sell the property. Typically, the agreement gives the remainder person a percentage of the proceeds. In fact, that percentage usually increases as the tenant ages.

4. Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship

This is a concurrent estate in which all the tenants have equal shares and rights to the entire property. When one tenant dies, the property ownership goes to the survivor, not the survivor’s heirs, and avoids probate.

Frequently, spouses use this method to control the rights of survivorship. In this case, the deed usually specifies the following: “Grantees A and B as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and not as tenants in common.” When the last tenant dies, the property is part of the deceased’s estate. The deceased’s debts attach to the property.

5. Tenants in Common (TIC)

A concurrent estate in which each tenant has rights to a set share of the property. The co-owners may own equal or unequal interests in an undivided property. Co-owners can use a will to specify the transfer to heirs of their property shares after death. For this case, the deed usually specifies the following: “Grantees A and B as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.”

A Tenancy in Common Agreement rather than a deed specifies each co-owner’s usage rights. Typically, TIC co-owners aren’t spouses. A TIC may hold the assets of joint commercial partnership. In all cases, there are no rights of survivorship. When a co-owner dies, the deceased tenant’s property interests go to the named or unnamed heirs.

6. Tenancy by the Entirety (T by E)

T by E property laws regulate how spouses share property ownership. The couple’s ownership receives the same treatment as a single person. Some states include domestic partners in this type of ownership. When one spouse dies, the property “ripens” – i.e., goes to the other spouse without probate.

In some states, tenancy by the entirety is the default for married couples. In other states, a deed must specify this type of tenancy. To sever a tenancy by the entirety, both spouses must agree or must divorce each other.

Creditors cannot foreclose on a T by E property unless both spouses have debt judgments with the same creditor. However, in community property states, creditors can seize T by E property due to either spouse’s debts.

The Four Unities

Common law requires four conditions (“unities”) to establish joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants by the entirety:

  • Unity of Time: Both tenants must acquire ownership interest at the same time.
  • Unity of Title: Co-tenants must share title on the same deed.
  • Unity of Interest: Co-tenants share the same interest in the property.
  • Unity of Possession: Both co-tenants share possession of the entire property.

If any of these unities break, the property becomes a tenancy in common.

Tenancy by the entirety requires a fifth unity as well:

  • Unity of Marriage: Co-tenants must be married. This makes one spouse the property beneficiary of the other spouse. Furthermore, a creditor of just one co-tenant cannot foreclose on the property. Instead, both spouses must share the indebtedness to the creditor.

Example of Property Interest

The joint legal owners can specify a beneficial ownership arrangement. Often, you see this when one party receives a higher percentage of rental income. For example, if Party A has 80% BO, it receives 80% of rental income.

The BO shares of partners has tax implications. You can gain tax efficiencies by transferring BO to the partner in the lower tax bracket.

A court can partition commercial, rental, and investment properties, as well as residences, which are TICs or joint tenancies. Specifically, co-tenants can seek division of the entire property instead of selling one co-tenant’s interest.

The court divides the property into separately-owned portions. A “partition by sale” distributes sale proceeds to co-tenants. Tenancy by the entirety is ineligible for property partition.

What is real property?

Real property is land and any improvements made upon the land, including buildings and other structures. For example, there are canals, roads, ponds, and machinery attached to the land. All other property is personal property.

What is perfected ownership interest in real property?

Perfect ownership, or perfect title, is an ownership interest in a property through a deed without any defects or liens. Other names for a perfected ownership interest include clear, free, or good title. Perfected ownership facilitates the smooth transfer or sale of a property.

In property ownership, what is a person of interest?

A person of interest is either a titled owner or a person with a beneficiary interest. The type of interest determines a person’s rights and privileges regarding property. There are many forms of ownership arrangements.

How do you determine the ownership interest in a property sale?

Typically, you could check with the recorder of deeds to see what the deed specifies. You may also want to review any Tenancy in Common Agreements or other agreements that affect ownership interests. You also need to check title for any liens or defects.

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Assignments of interest in real estate

In the case of  Pines Plaza Limited Partnership v. Berkley Trace LLC,  Maryland’s highest court refused to change Maryland law on the transfer of contract obligations when a contract for real property is assigned.

Stated succinctly by the Court: Under Maryland common law, one who takes an assignment of an interest in a contract for the sale of real property does not assume the obligations of the assignor under the contract, unless the assignment explicitly provides so. The seller in this case invites us to reverse that presumption and hold that an assignee normally assumes the obligations of the assignor under the contract, unless the assignment provides otherwise. We decline to do so.  Opinion at p. 1.

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Michigan Legal Help

Small Estates: How Does Assignment of Property Work?

When a person dies, they are called a decedent. A decedent leaves property behind. That property needs to be passed on to those who will inherit it. If a person has a small estate, then a shortened process, called assignment of property, can be used instead of the probate administration process.

Read this article to learn about how to use the assignment of property process. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Settling a Small Estate  tool to create the forms you will need for this process. Read the article An Overview of Small Estate Processes to learn more about the other ways a small estate can be distributed.

What is In an Estate?

The property a decedent leaves behind that can be distributed through the assignment process could include:

Real estate (houses and other buildings, land and the things attached to it)

Personal property (furniture, cars, and other things not attached to land)

Bank accounts and cash

Stocks and bonds

Debts owed to the person

Some of the property is not part of the estate, which means it cannot be distributed through the assignment process. The estate does not usually include:

Jointly owned property,

Insurance policies,

Retirement accounts, or

Trusts that are not established by a will

Jointly Owned Property

Jointly owned property is property owned by more than one person. It is generally not included in an estate. Examples of jointly owned personal property are if you and the decedent are both listed on the title of a car or if you have joint bank accounts. When the decedent died, you automatically have full ownership of that property, so it is not part of the estate. You may want to take a copy of the decedent’s death certificate to the bank or Secretary of State (SOS) to remove the decedent’s name from the account or car title.

However, sometimes joint ownership is more complex. If you own real property with the decedent, or if you own any type of property with the decedent and someone else, ownership can be hard to understand after a death. Read the article Jointly Owned Property  to learn more about this, or use the Guide to Legal Help to find a lawyer or legal services in your area.

Small Estates

In order to use the assignment process, a decedent’s estate must be small. Whether an estate is small depends on the value of the property in it. The dollar limit can change each year. If a person dies in 2023, an estate must be valued at $27,000 or less to be small. If a person died in 2022, an estate must be valued at $25,000 or less. If a person died in 2021 or 2020, an estate must be valued at $24,000 or less. If a person dies in 2019 or 2018, an estate must be valued at $23,000 or less. If a person died in 2014 – 2017 an estate must be valued at $22,000 or less.

Assignment of Property

Assignment of property is the small estate process you must use if the decedent had real property. However, even if there was no real property, you may choose to use assignment of property if an estate is small. This is the only small estate process where a Probate Judge reviews and approves the division of property.

To use this process, you must know all the property and the heirs the decedent had, and have information about the funeral or burial expenses. You must also be an heir or the person who paid the funeral bill.

You must list all real property and personal property with the value of each. You can estimate real property’s market value by doubling its State Equalized Value (SEV). You can find the SEV on property tax bills or assessments for the property. You can also find it on most county or municipality websites.

The value of the property in the estate is its market value. Any liens or loans on property will not be deducted when determining if the estate falls into the small estates amount. There is a separate calculation to determine the fees that the court will charge to file the petition. This is called the inventory fee. You are allowed to deduct the value of the mortgage or other liens on real property when you determine the inventory value. You are not allowed to make any deductions from the value of personal property. 

To estimate the value of personal property, think about how much you would ask for it at a yard sale or if you were selling it online.

Who Will Inherit?

After funeral and burial expenses have been paid, the court will order any remaining property to be divided among the heirs. The inheritance formula determines which heirs inherit property, and how much of the property each person will get. If there is a surviving spouse, that person inherits all the property.

If there is no surviving spouse, any property will be given or paid to direct descendants of the decedent, starting with the decedent’s children. If all of the decedent’s children are still alive, they will split the property equally. If a child died before the decedent, that person’s children will split the share equally. If the decedent had a grandchild who should inherit, but they died before the decedent, the grandchild's children will split the shares equally. If inheriting children or grandchildren die before the decedent with no living children of their own, the line of inheritance stops there. Their share will be divided between the remaining descendants.

If there are no living descendants of the decedent, the property will be split between the decedent’s parents equally. If only one parent is still living, that parent inherits all the property. If both parents died before the decedent, the property will go to their descendants, starting with the decedent’s siblings. The same rules of representation mentioned above apply.

If an inheriting sibling died before the decedent, that person’s child(ren) will split their share of the property equally. The same is true if an inheriting niece or nephew died before the decedent. If inheriting siblings, nieces, or nephews die before the decedent with no living children of their own, the line of inheritance stops there. Their share will be divided between the remaining heirs.

If no descendants of the decedent’s parents are living, the property is divided among the decedent’s grandparents. Half of the property will go to the decedent’s paternal grandparents, and the other half will go to the maternal grandparents. If only one maternal or paternal grandparent is living, they will take the full half of the property. If both grandparents on one side died before the decedent, their half of the property goes to their descendants, starting with the decedent’s aunts and uncles. The same rules of representation mentioned above apply.

If an inheriting aunt or uncle died before the decedent did, that person’s children will split the share of the property equally. The same is true if an inheriting cousin died before the decedent. If inheriting aunts, uncles, or cousins die before the decedent with no living children of their own, the line of inheritance stops there. Their share will be divided between the remaining heirs.

There are other rules too, including special rules if an heir dies after the decedent does. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Settling a Small Estate tool to help you figure out who will inherit and what share each heir will receive. You may also want to talk to a lawyer if you have questions about this. You can use the Guide to Legal Help to find legal services in your area.

Survivorship and the 120-Hour Rule

Survivorship affects inheritance rights of heirs and devisees. In Michigan, a person must live more than 120 hours after a decedent dies for that person’s survivorship rights to take effect. Generally, anyone who dies during the first 120 hours after a decedent’s death is considered to have predeceased (died before) the decedent and they lose their interest in the decedent’s property. The 120-hour rule is not followed if:

A will, deed, title, or trust addresses simultaneous deaths or deaths in a common disaster;

A will, deed, title, or trust states a person is not required to survive for a certain amount of time or it specifies a different survival period;

The rule would affect interests protected by Michigan law; or

The rule would cause a failure or duplication in distributing property.

Notice to Decedent’s Creditors

This process does not include any notice to creditors . If a creditor tries to collect a debt within 63 days of when the order is issued by the court, the person who got the property will have to pay the debt, up to the amount or value of the property the person got. This does not apply if the decedent’s spouse or minor children got the property. For example, if the decedent’s brother got $1,000, a creditor the decedent owed $500 could get the $500 from him. If the decedent had owed the creditor $1,500, the brother wouldn’t have to pay more than $1,000 to the creditor. If the decedent’s spouse or minor child got the property, they would not have to pay the creditor anything.

The Process

To start this process, file a Petition for Assignment with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. If the decedent lived outside Michigan, file the Petition for Assignment in the county where the decedent had real property. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Settling a Small Estate tool to create this petition.

After you complete the form, print two copies. Date and sign both copies. The Do-It-Yourself Settling a Small Estate  tool will prepare a Testimony to Identify Heirs, but not all courts require it. Not all courts require a certified copy of the death certificate. You might want to check the probate court’s website or call and ask before you go to court to file the documents. You can find contact information for the court on the right side of this page if you have selected a county.

You will need to file the following documents with the probate court:

Both copies of the petition

The Testimony to Identify Heirs (if your court requires it)

A copy of the death certificate

Proof that the funeral and burial expenses have been paid or a bill showing the amount owed

There is a $25 filing fee. There is also an inventory fee. It is based on the value of property in the estate. If the property in the estate has no value, the inventory fee is $5. For example, if the decedent had a house that was worth less than the amount of the mortgage, the value of the estate could be zero. You can use the  inventory fee calculator  on the Michigan One Court of Justice website to see how much the inventory fee will be.

The petition is reviewed by a probate court judge. If everything is correct when you file the Petition and Order, the judge will sign it. You may be able to get your certified copy of the Order Assigning Assets on the day you file it. You need the Order Assigning Assets to distribute the property in the estate.

There is a fee to get a certified copy of the Order Assigning Assets. The fee to get a certified copy varies, but it is usually $15 to $20. You need a certified copy of the order to transfer the property in the estate. You may want to get more than one certified copy when you file the petition. Some courts charge less for extra certified copies if you get them at the same time.

The court will order the funeral and burial expenses be paid or reimbursed to whoever paid them. This means all paid and unpaid funeral expenses will be deducted from the value of the estate when determining if it is a small estate. If there is no cash available, something may have to be sold to pay those expenses.

Distributing the Property

Once the judge has signed the Order Assigning Assets, you will be able to distribute the property in the estate to the heirs. The Do-It-Yourself Settling a Small Estate  tool will tell you the shares each person is entitled to, but some things (like cars) cannot easily be divided. Decide how to divide the existing property so everyone gets the share they deserve.

Transferring Money from Bank or Credit Union Accounts

If the decedent had bank or credit union accounts that were not jointly owned with another person, take the certified copy of the order to the bank to close the account. The bank should release the money to the heir or heirs by writing a check or money order.

Transferring a Vehicle

If the decedent had a vehicle, the surviving spouse or heir must complete a Certification from the Heir to a Vehicle . If you use our Do-It-Yourself Settling a Small Estate  tool, you will get a completed certification form for each vehicle you are transferring.

Take it to the Office of the SOS with a copy of the death certificate. If you have a copy of the vehicle title, take that, too.

Transferring Real Property

If the decedent had real property, you will need to record a certified copy of the order to transfer the property. Take the order to the register of deeds for the county where the property is. Check the county’s website or call the local register of deeds office to find out how much the filing fee is.

You should not have to pay a transfer tax. Transfer tax is based on how much is paid for the property. Nothing was paid for this property when it transferred because the decedent died.

When the property is transferred, its value may “uncap.” The amount property tax can increase in a year is limited while the property is owned by the same person. When the property is transferred to another person, the property tax will be adjusted to the property’s current market value. You can learn more about property taxes on the State of Michigan’s Treasury Department website .

If the property was the decedent’s principal residence, it probably had a Homestead Tax Exemption attached to it. Under Michigan law, if you own your home you do not have to pay certain taxes on it.

If the person inheriting the property will be living there, they need to fill out a Principal Residence Exemption Affidavit . If whoever is getting the property is not going to live there but plans to continue owning it, they need to fill out a Request to Rescind a Principal Residence Exemption .

One of these forms must be filed with the city or township where the property is located within 90 days after the decedent’s death. If it is not filed, additional taxes and fees will be charged.

You may not have to file the Request to Rescind a Principal Residence Exemption for up to three years if the property is listed for sale during that time. If you are selling real estate in this situation, you may want to talk to a real estate agent or a lawyer. 

If you have a low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have a low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area. If you are not able to get free legal services but can’t afford high legal fees, consider hiring a lawyer for part of your case instead of the whole thing. This is called limited scope representation. To learn more, read Limited Scope Representation (LSR): A More Affordable Way to Hire a Lawyer . To find a limited scope lawyer, follow this link to the State Bar of Michigan lawyer directory . This link lists lawyers who offer limited scope representation. You can narrow the results to lawyers in your area by typing in your county, city, or zip code at the top of the page. You can also narrow the results by topic by entering the kind of lawyer you need (divorce, estate, etc.) at the top of the page.

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Breaking news, russian court extends the pretrial detention for wsj reporter evan gershkovich accused of spying.

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A Russian court Tuesday extended the pre-trial detention of US journalist Evan Gershkovich , forcing the Wall Street Journal reporter to remain behind bars at least until next month, marking a full year in jail for him.

The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal filed by Gershkovich’s lawyers against his detention, upholding an earlier ruling to keep him in custody until at least March 30. 

The judgment means Gershkovich, 32, will have spent an entire year behind bars by that time. He was arrested in March 2023 while on a reporting trip to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich inside a defendant cage at Moscow City Court for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 20, 2024.

Gershkovich was charged with espionage – accusations rejected by him, the Wall Street Journal and the White House, which has declared him wrongfully detained. 

Russian authorities have not shared any evidence to support the espionage charges. Gershkovich is the first Western journalist to be held on espionage charges since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Tuesday’s appeal was a technical hearing against the earlier ruling to extend his pre-trial detention and did not concern the substance of his case. 

US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy, who attended the hearing, slammed Gershkovich’s ongoing detention. 

“The charges against Evan are baseless. The Russian government has locked Evan up simply for reporting news,” Tracy said, according to the Moscow Times. 

Gershkovich will remain in custody until March 30, 2024 — over a year since he was arrested on espionage charges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month during an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that Russia was ready to negotiate a deal to release Gershkovich . 

Putin has insisted Gershkovich was “caught red-handed when he was secretly getting classified information” and hinted that Moscow would trade him for the release of Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany. 

German officials have not commented on if there had been any effort by Russia to secure the swap. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested during an interview with Tucker Carlson that he is open to swapping Gershkovich for another prisoner.

In December, the US State Department said Russia had rejected several proposals that would free Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan who has been jailed in Russia since December 2018. 

Whelan, who was also arrested on espionage-related charges that he and the government deny, was sentenced to 16 years. 

With Post wires

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Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich inside a defendant cage at Moscow City Court for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 20, 2024.

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American newspaper reporter evan gershkovich’s detention extended by russian court, moscow city court rejects appeal of the wall street journal correspondent’s detention, wall street journal reporter evan gershkovich is escorted from court after a hearing last month in moscow..

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MOSCOW (AP) — A court in the Russian capital ruled Tuesday to keep Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in custody pending his trial on espionage charges that he denies.

The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against Gershkovich’s detention filed by his lawyers, upholding an earlier ruling to keep him behind bars until the end of March.

The court’s order means that Gershkovich, 32 will spend at least a year behind bars in Russia after his arrest in March 2023 while on a reporting trip to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains.

Gershkovich and the Journal have denied the espionage allegations, and the U.S. government has declared him to be wrongfully detained. Russian authorities haven’t detailed any evidence to support the espionage charges.

Gershkovich is the first American reporter to be charged with espionage in Russia since 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB. Gershkovich is being held at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, notorious for its harsh conditions.

Speaking in a controversial interview this month with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia is ready to negotiate a deal to exchange Gershkovich and hinted that Moscow wants the release of a Russian imprisoned in Germany.

From the archives (June 2023): U.S. ‘very stridently’ asking Russia for better access to detained reporter Evan Gershkovich, White House says

Putin charged that Gershkovich “was caught red-handed when he was secretly getting classified information,” while adding that “there are certain conditions that are being discussed between special services. I believe an agreement can be reached.”

He pointed to a man imprisoned in a “U.S.-allied country” for “liquidating a bandit” who had allegedly killed Russian soldiers during separatist fighting in Chechnya. Putin didn’t mention names but appeared to refer to Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany after being convicted of the 2019 killing in Berlin of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen ethnicity.

German judges said Krasikov acted on the orders of Russian authorities, who gave him a false identity and passport and resources to carry out the killing.

German officials have refused comment when asked if there had been any effort by Russia to secure a swap of Krasikov and Gershkovich and whether Berlin was in contact with the U.S.

In December, the U.S. State Department said that Russia had rejected several proposals for freeing Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, has been jailed in Russia since his December 2018 arrest on espionage-related charges that both he and the U.S. government dispute. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

From the archives (December 2023): Russia rejects deal to return jailed Americans Evan Gershkovich, Paul Whelan

Earlier this month, a Moscow court remanded a German citizen in custody on drug smuggling charges after his arrest over possession of cannabis gummies. Patrick Schobel, 38, who was detained at Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg last month, told authorities he brought the gummies to have a better sleep on long flights.

Some analysts have noted that Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips after U.S.-Russian tensions soared when Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At least two U.S. citizens arrested in Russia in recent years, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the U.S.

Read on: Navalny’s allegations of corruption made him a threat to Putin. Here are some of his most damning claims.

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Monday Briefing

The impact of Aleksei Navalny’s death.

Daniel E. Slotnik

By Daniel E. Slotnik

A person in a dark coat stands in front of bouquets piled at a memorial for Aleksei Navalny in Moscow.

What Aleksei Navalny’s death means

Aleksei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, died on Friday in a penal colony. He was 47 .

Navalny’s body has not been released to his family, and the cause of death remains unclear.

Navalny was the Kremlin’s fiercest critic . He publicly denounced the corruption he saw at the core of President Vladimir Putin’s political party at immense personal cost: He barely survived an attempted poisoning and had been imprisoned since 2021.

His death prompted mourning in Russia — where at least 366 people have been detained for expressing their grief — and left the opposition questioning its future .

Yesterday I spoke with Anton Troianovski , The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, about the response to Navalny’s death and the future of Russia’s opposition.

What kind of reaction are you seeing in Russia? How are people mourning?

All over the country, people are laying flowers at memorials to Soviet repressions. A lot of cities in Russia have these memorials that were generally put up in the 1990s, honoring the victims of the gulag and other repression during the Soviet Union. And it seems that people are kind of automatically gravitating to those places in order to honor Navalny’s memory.

Of course, we’re talking about the minority of people who are brave enough to do that. Human rights groups have reported hundreds of arrests already of people who have gone just to lay flowers. Even doing that is a very dangerous statement in today’s Russia. And at the same time, on state television, which is the main news medium in Russia today, there is pretty much no reporting on what has happened.

What does this mean for the opposition in Russia?

It’s a devastating moment for the opposition in Russia. I don’t think you can say it any other way. Navalny was the hope for people opposed to Vladimir Putin, though Navalny was a controversial figure in some ways. There were people who thought, especially earlier in his political career, that he was kind of too nationalist. He had quite a direct, brusque style that turned some people off.

But no one disputed that he was the main alternative to Vladimir Putin in Russian politics. He was really the only figure of all the various political figures in the last 24 years seeking to challenge Putin. He was the only one who was able to appeal not just to urban liberals in Moscow but really to a much broader cross-section of Russians. He was incredibly adept at using YouTube and social media to penetrate the bubble of propaganda created by state television. And he was able to build a nationwide political network that repeatedly was able to organize mass protests.

What can the opposition do going forward?

Shortly before his death, Navalny endorsed an idea that another exiled opposition figure came up with, which was to say: How about everyone who is opposed to Putin goes to a local polling station at exactly the same time on March 17, the last day of the election? And opposition figures are saying that the time should be noon local time in your city.

So that’s something that it seems the opposition in exile is very much going to be pushing on social media, on YouTube. And opposition figures are thinking that even in the current repressive environment, perhaps this is a relatively safe way to protest because no one says you’re not allowed to go to the polls.

Russia captured Avdiivka

Ukrainian forces withdrew from Avdiivka , a ruined city on the eastern front line, giving Russia its greatest battlefield victory since it captured Bakhmut in May. The retreat comes at a time when Ukraine’s military is outgunned and stretched thin.

Ukrainian soldiers in Avdiivka withstood near-constant bombardment and fought intense battles to break out of Russian attempts to encircle them. More than 900 of the city’s 30,000 inhabitants remained there, mostly surviving underground on food and supplies brought in by aid workers. Their fate is unknown.

What’s next: The terrain around Avdiivka is flat, without large rivers or extensive fortifications, meaning Ukraine will probably have to cede more territory to hold back Russian forces.

Collective anxiety: At the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of Western leaders, many fretted about Putin’s possible next moves and the chance of wavering U.S. support.

Key Gazan hospital declared ‘not functional’

The leader of the W.H.O. said that Nasser Hospital, the largest medical center that was still operational in wartime Gaza, was “not functional anymore” after a weeklong siege by the Israeli military.

There were about 200 patients at the hospital in Khan Younis, with 20 in critical condition who urgently needed to be transferred, the director general of the W.H.O. said on social media.

In Israel: Thousands protested in Tel Aviv in the largest expression of anger against Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu , since the Oct. 7 attacks.

THE LATEST NEWS

Around the world.

A judge ordered Donald Trump to pay a penalty of nearly $355 million plus interest for conspiring to manipulate his net worth. In total, Trump is expected to have to pay more than $450 million.

A senior Pakistani official confessed to helping manipulate the results in the country’s recent election.

Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s ousted former prime minister, was released on parole after serving only a fraction of his sentence — in a hospital.

A college student in the small African country of Eswatini risked his life to protest the country’s absolute monarch . His father is a soldier sworn to protect the king.

The Times’s London bureau chief discusses King Charles III’s cancer diagnosis .

Aleksei Navalny could be more dangerous to Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial rule in death, writes Serge Schmemann .

Chase Strangio , a trans rights activist and lawyer at the A.C.L.U., writes that greater cultural representation of trans people has coincided with a political assault on them.

A Morning Read

“ Natural asset companies ” would seek to put a market price on improving ecosystems by using proceeds from public offerings to maintain land. Ideally, investments in the companies would appreciate as environmental quality improved, yielding a return years later.

Such a company does not exist yet, but the idea is gaining traction with some environmentalists and investors.

SPORTS NEWS

The Premier League’s most important players: Who contributes the most at all 20 clubs?

Soccer player sentenced for fatal hit-and-run: Ciaran Dickson received six years in prison for killing a teenager in Glasgow.

One tennis player’s remarkable road: Fnu Nidunjianzan’s journey from Tibet to Princeton.

ARTS AND IDEAS

When eating with your hands is encouraged.

In the West, only certain foods and scenarios are exempt from flatware. But in parts of Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, eating with the hands is traditional and remains routine for some.

Now, some restaurants in Western countries that serve food from those cultures are asking patrons to drop their forks, wash their hands and dig in .

RECOMMENDATIONS

Cook: Think of this one-pot chicken and noodles dish as a relay race, with each ingredient handing its flavor off to the next.

Conserve: These six tips will help you shop more sustainably .

Watch: The Oscar-winning documentary “ Navalny ” is chilling to see after the opposition leader’s death.

Read: Four new books in translation test the bounds of reality.

Play the Spelling Bee . And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle . You can find all our puzzles here .

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thank you for spending part of your morning with us, and see you tomorrow. — Dan

P.S. Today is Presidents’ Day , a national holiday in the U.S. Financial markets are closed.

You can reach Dan and the team at [email protected] .

Daniel E. Slotnik is a general assignment reporter on the Metro desk and a 2020 New York Times reporting fellow. More about Daniel E. Slotnik

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