The 3 Types of Real Estate Co-ownership in Maryland: What Every Owner Should Know


Do you co-own, or are you planning to co-own, real estate in Maryland?  Perhaps you are married or planning to marry, you are acquiring property with others, or you have inherited a property along with others.  There are many decisions to make when considering real estate co-ownership, one of which is the type of co-ownership you should enter into, referred to legally as your estate in the property.  In fact, as circumstances change, you may benefit by changing your type of co-ownership.  However valid your reason for sharing ownership in a given property may be, you should clearly understand the type of co-ownership you have, because it matters a great deal more than you may realize. 

Consider these three important questions:

  • Can you convey your share of the property by gift or sale, or devise it in a will, without consent of your co-owners?
     
  • Is your property vulnerable to a creditor who may be actively seeking to collect on a personal debt you owe, or on the debt of a co-owner?
     
  • What happens to your property interest in the event of a divorce or death?

There are three types of real estate co-ownership in Maryland:  Joint Tenancy, Tenancy by the Entirety (a.k.a. Tenancy by the Entireties) for married couples and Tenancy in Common.

  1. JOINT TENANCY is when two or more co-owners simultaneously have an interest in the whole property, as well as a separate, undivided individual interest.  Each Joint Tenant enjoys a shared right of possession to the whole property, while holding title to a portion of it.  Joint Tenancy requires that the Joint Tenants acquire their interests at the same time, by the same instrument (e.g. deed or will) and in equal interests.  The hallmark of Joint Tenancy is a right of survivorship.  When one Joint Tenant dies, by operation of law the decedent’s interest is automatically transferred proportionally amongst the surviving Joint Tenants.  The intent to form a Joint Tenancy must be clearly expressed in the instrument.  If the instrument does not contain the words “Joint Tenants” or “Joint Tenancy,” it must otherwise clearly intend a right of survivorship.

    Pros & Cons of Joint Tenancy:  In one sense a right of survivorship is an advantage, because there is no need to record a deed verifying that the survivor(s) now owns the decedent’s interest.  However, this also means that a Joint Tenant cannot devise her property interest to her heirs.  Joint Tenants are only responsible for their respective share of cost of maintaining the property, such as property taxes, mortgage and insurance.  Moreover, Joint Tenants are entitled to share proportionally in any income the property earns.  Also, if a Joint Tenant incurs a debt unrelated to the property, any resulting judgment lien is only against her apportioned interest in the property.  However, if a judgment creditor successfully levies the property within the debtor Joint Tenant’s lifetime, the other Joint Tenants may suffer the consequences of either a forced sale or partitioning (physical division) of the property.  A Joint Tenant retains the right to sell or gift his/her interest in the property without permission of the other Joint Tenants, but in doing so, the Joint Tenancy is severed, creating a Tenancy in Common with the remaining Joint Tenants.  In Maryland, a Joint Tenant’s mortgage of his/her property interest also converts his/her co-ownership into a Tenancy in Common.  Finally, an individual Joint Tenant may file a lawsuit to potentially force a partition of the property, or a sale in lieu of partition, in which case the proceeds are distributed amongst the Joint Tenants.
     
  2. TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETY is a form of Joint Tenancy recognized under common law for married couples.  In Maryland, couples who are married when executing the deed to a property are presumed to take title as Tenants by the Entirety unless otherwise provided in the instrument.  However, if two persons marry while already owning property together as Joint Tenants, their ownership is not automatically converted into a Tenancy by the Entirety. They must update their deed. Conversely, when the Court grants an absolute divorce, the Tenancy by the Entirety is severed by operation of law and their co-ownership is converted into a Tenancy in Common, thus extinguishing the right of survivorship.

    Pros & Cons of Tenancy by the Entirety:  Under a Tenancy by the Entirety there is only one shared interest between the married co-owners, consequently one spouse cannot sell or otherwise convey the property without the consent of the other.  Also, if only one spouse owes a debt to a creditor, that creditor cannot force a sale to satisfy the debt; the property is shielded from the debts of one spouse.
     
  3. TENANCY IN COMMON differs from Joint Tenancy in that each co-owner has a divisible interest in the property, and there is no right of survivorship.  When a Tenancy in Common is formed, the property interests will be apportioned equally between the Tenants in Common, unless allocation is otherwise specified.  Any property granted to two or more unmarried persons is a Tenancy in Common unless there is a clear intention in the instrument to form a Joint Tenancy.

    Pros & Cons of Tenancy in Common:  A Tenant in Common may convey, encumber and devise his/her property interest as he/she wishes without the consent of the other co-owners.  However, a Tenant in Common’s interest in the property is susceptible to liens and judgments.


As a co-owner in any arrangement, you should understand the ramifications of your type of co-ownership.  This is particularly true when facing litigation. It is important to consult a professional to review your deed, and discuss how your property interest may be impacted if you are facing litigation or other situation.

James (Jamie) Roth is an Associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Miller, Miller & Canby. He concentrates his practice in real estate litigation with a focus in eminent domain, as well as business and commercial litigation. He has enjoyed a long-standing and distinguished career as a successful real estate consultant, including more than twenty years of private and public sector experience in project management, strategic planning, asset management and risk mitigation.  

Contact Jamie at 301.762.5251 or via email.

For more information on Miller, Miller & Canby’s Real Estate Litigation Practice, click here.

DISCLAIMER - This article is offered as an overview for educational purposes, it is not a comprehensive coverage of the law, and it is not a substitute for an attorney’s consultation.

 





Miller, Miller & Canby Announces Five Attorneys Named as 2020 Maryland Super Lawyers


Miller, Miller & Canby is pleased to announce our attorneys who have been named to the list of Super Lawyers in the state of Maryland for 2020. Attorneys James Thompson and Donna McBride have been once again selected for this honor, and attorneys Diane Feuerherd, Callie Carnemark and Christopher Young have been named to the 2020 “Rising Stars” list, which recognizes attorneys under the age of 40. 
 
2020 marks the 14th year that James (Jim) Thompson has been named to the list. He has led Miller, Miller & Canby's Litigation Group for more than 25 years, concentrating his practice in eminent domain and real estate valuation litigation, as well as in property tax assessment appeals. For more than a decade, Mr. Thompson represented Maryland in the Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of property rights attorneys with demonstrated excellence in this area. In 2018, Mr. Thompson was recognized with the President's Citation for Outstanding Service by the Montgomery County Bar Association. He was also selected as the Senior Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland State Bar Association. 
 
Donna McBride
has been a named Super Lawyer since 2014, and has been a partner in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Litigation practice since 2009. She focuses her practice in litigation in the following areas:  business and commercial, employment, estates and trusts, personal injury and insurance, as well as real estate. In 2019, Ms. McBride was admitted to the American College of Trial Lawyers as a Fellow. In addition to her background as a trial lawyer, Ms. McBride is a member of the Court of Appeals Standing Committee of Rules of Practice and Procedure, where she was appointed to serve a second 5-year term beginning in 2018. She is also a member of the Trial Court's Judicial Nominating Commission, the Montgomery County Inn of Court, a former co-chair and current member of the Maryland State Bar Association's Judicial Selections Committee and has volunteered as a mediator for the District Court since 2008. In 2018, she was elected to serve as Treasurer for the Montgomery County Bar Association, to serve the 2018-2019 term. She currently serves as Treasurer for the Montgomery County Bar Foundation. 
 
2020 is the fifth year that attorney Diane Feuerherd has been named to the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list. She has successfully represented individuals, property owners, and businesses in a wide variety of matters, ranging from administrative hearings before the Board of Appeals, to jury and bench trials in state and federal courts, and to appeals before the Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals. In addition to her work, she is active in state and local bar associations. She serves as a co-chair of the Maryland State Bar Association's Judicial Appointments Committee, Blog Manager of the Maryland Appellate Blog, Board Member of the Maryland Bar Foundation and a past Fellow of the MSBA's prestigious Leadership Academy. 
 
2020 is the second year that attorney Callie Carnemark has been recognized as a Super Lawyers “Rising Star.” An associate in the Litigation group, she focuses her practice on real estate and business litigation as well as the firm’s appellate practice. Ms. Carnemark is a member of the Montgomery County Inns of Court, the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Maryland State Bar Association. She is a graduate of the Montgomery County Bar Association Leadership Academy, Class of 2017. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Montgomery County Bar Association, and Co-Chair of its New Practitioner Section. She is also a member of the Montgomery County Women's Bar Association. 
 
2020 is also the second year that Christopher Young has been recognized as a “Rising Star.”  An associate in the Business & Tax Practice Group, he works with business clients and individuals to resolve tax disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and state agencies. He works with corporate clients on issues related to corporate disputes, governance, formations and restructurings, as well as drafting and reviewing corporate documents such as contracts and purchase agreements, operating agreements and partnership agreements. He also advises clients on matters related to foreign financial account reporting and compliance.
 
These five attorneys join other Miller, Miller & Canby attorneys previously named Super Lawyers including Joe Suntum, who practices in the field of eminent domain and commercial litigation, Pat McKeever, whose practice focuses in real estate law and Jody Kline, whose practice focuses in Land Use and Zoning. 

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a research-driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes:
•    Peer nominations
•    Independent research by Super Lawyers
•    Evaluations from a highly credentialed panel of attorneys

The objective is to create a comprehensive listing of exceptional attorneys who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement, to be used as a resource for both referring attorneys and consumers seeking legal counsel. Attorneys are selected from more than 70 practice areas and a variety of firm sizes, but are limited to no more than 5% of attorneys practicing in any given region (2.5% for Rising Stars). The lists are published annually in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers nationwide. 

View a PDF of the press release by clicking Download below.





MD Appellate Blog: Seventeen Apply for At-Large Vacancy on the Court of Special Appeals


Miller, Miller & Canby litigation attorney, Diane Feuerherd, authored a recent Maryland Appellate Blog which introduced the seventeen applicants for the open at-large seat on the Court of Special Appeals based on the forthcoming retirement of Judge Alexander Wright, Jr.

Click here
to read the full blog article.

In December 2017, Ms. Feuerherd joined the joined the Maryland State Bar Association’s Maryland Appellate Blog as its Blog Manager. Founded in 2013, the Maryland Appellate Blog is sponsored by the MSBA Litigation Section, and is dedicated to disseminating information about appellate practice and appellate law. The blog covers news from Maryland’s Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. It features commentary from a number of contributors and guest authors, including coverage of notable arguments, practice tips, commentary on implications of specific rulings or trends, and interviews with appellate judges.

Diane Feuerherd
is an associate in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Litigation Practice Group and focuses her practice in appellate, commercial and business litigation. She has successfully represented individuals, property owners, and businesses in a variety of matters ranging from administrative hearings before the Board of Appeals of Montgomery County, to trials in state and federal courts, and to appeals before the Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals. She may be reached at 301-762-5212.





Miller, Miller & Canby Litigation Attorneys Obtain Jury Verdict in Employee Embezzlement Case


Miller, Miller & Canby litigation attorneys Donna McBride and Callie Carnemark have obtained a jury verdict on behalf of their client, a medical practice, with offices in Montgomery and Howard Counties.  An employee of the practice, who worked as the office administrator, was charged with embezzling funds in excess of $900,000 over the course of several years.  After a 6-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the practice which represented almost the entirety of the damages presented to the jury. Through skilled direct and cross-examination, both attorneys worked to seamlessly present the evidence in a manner that was efficient, captivating and highly effective. The defendant will face a criminal trial in April.

“We are delighted with this outcome, and we are pleased that the defendant was held accountable” said Donna McBride.

Donna McBride
, a partner in Miller, Miller & Canby’s litigation practice, has an extensive and diverse trial practice. She focuses on various areas of litigation including business and commercial, employment, personal injury, insurance, and real estate. Callie Carnemark is an associate with the litigation practice group, and focuses her practice in business and commercial litigation. To learn more about MM&C's litigation practice, click here.





U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers Name Miller, Miller & Canby among 2020 “Best Law Firms”


Miller, Miller & Canby is pleased to announce the firm has been recognized among the  2020 “Best Law Firms” in the Washington, DC metro area and across the nation.

U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers publicly announced the Tenth Edition of the Best Law Firms rankings this month. Miller, Miller & Canby received Metropolitan Tier 1 honors in two practice areas:  Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law, and Land Use and Zoning Law.  The firm’s Land Use and Zoning practice also achieved a National Tier 1 Ranking.  Tier 1 is the highest rank given; the rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

“For the 2020 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation process has remained just as rigorous and discerning as it did when we first started ten years ago,” says Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers. “This year we reviewed 14,931 law firms throughout the United States – across 75 national practice areas – and a total of 2,106 firms received a national law firm ranking. We are proud that the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings continue to act as an indicator of excellence throughout the legal industry.”

“We are honored to be recognized in this prestigious publication, across both the metropolitan and national categories,” said Miller, Miller & Canby’s Soo Lee-Cho, who Co-Chairs the firm’s Land Use and Zoning practice along with Jody Kline.  Mr. Kline, who has led the practice group since 1974, has been named to the US News “Best Lawyers” list for 14 consecutive years.

“It is particularly gratifying for our practice to be named to this list, as both our clients and colleagues in the legal industry contribute to this process,” said Miller, Miller & Canby’s Joseph Suntum, who leads the firm’s Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law practice. “We take great pride in our dedication to our clients and to be recognized for this service is a privilege.”

The U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in the field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a 2020 ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer recognized in the 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America list for that particular location and specialty.

National and metropolitan tier 1 rankings will be featured in the physical edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms”, which will be distributed to more than 30,000 in-house counsel. The 2020 “Best Law Firms” rankings can be seen in their entirety by clicking here.

Miller, Miller & Canby has more than 70 years of land use & zoning, real estate, eminent domain and condemnation law focus —protecting clients’ rights throughout the condemnation process. For more information about Miller, Miller & Canby’s Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law practice click here or for information about Miller, Miller & Canby's Land Use and Zoning Law practice click here. View the firm press release by clicking the Download button below.





Merging Businesses Beware: MD Court Case Demonstrates Importance of Signed Legal Corporate Documents


A recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals serves as a cautionary tale for business owners in Maryland.  In MAS Associates v. Korotki, the parties intended to merge their businesses with an existing limited liability company (LLC), but never signed the requisite corporate documents to solidify their intention. When a dispute arose, two of the owners claimed a partnership existed while one disagreed.  Taking their dispute to the courts, the Court of Appeals ultimately determined that, while intent can be explicit or based on the parties’ conduct and the surrounding circumstances, there was insufficient evidence of a partnership here. Thus, the failure to document the relationship proved fatal to the argument of the majority owners.

Background

During the economic recession of 2009, Harry Korotki sought to initiate a merger with the mortgage lending company he owned, Savings First Mortgage, LLC ("Savings First"), and two other licensed mortgage entities: Greentree Mortgage Corporation ("Greentree"), owned by Joel Wax ("Mr. Wax"), and MAS Associates, LLC d/b/a Equity Mortgage Lending ("MAS"), owned by Saralee Greenberg ("Ms. Greenberg") and Ken Venick ("Mr.Venick"). Post-merger, the three companies were to operate as one, with MAS absorbing Greentree and Savings First, and becoming the surviving entity.

In an effort to memorialize their merger, each party was represented by its own counsel.  However, due to complex regulations governing mortgage companies, the parties selected an independent regulatory counsel to navigate the merger process. At the time of the pre-merger negotiations, it would have been impossible to combine all 3 businesses without some interim steps for the purposes of licensing.  Accordingly, the independent regulatory counsel prepared an "Issues Outline," which served as an outline for an "Interim Agreement." It included arrangements, obligations, and the structure of the business prior to the completion of the merger.

During the fall of 2009, the independent regulatory counsel drafted a new agreement between the parties, memorializing their intention to "ultimately change the membership of [MAS] and the membership percentages . . ."  However, the parties intended for this agreement to take effect once the requisite regulatory approvals had been obtained, which was slated to be three years or more.  The agreement was intended to provide time for each jurisdiction to process such approvals, namely MAS’ change in ownership paperwork, and to act as a limitations period to insulate MAS from potential creditors.

The independent regulatory counsel circulated the initial draft agreement to the parties and their attorneys for review. Two days later, regulatory counsel forwarded the parties a draft Operating Agreement for the new MAS.  Negotiations over the terms of the agreement and the Operating Agreement lasted for several months. However, an agreement over the language of the documents was not finalized, and the parties decided to proceed with business operations without executing the agreement. The parties concluded, because they were not generating revenue, it was not financially sound to continue absorbing legal fees with the regulatory counsel. Rather, they decided to proceed without signing any documents (except for a lease between Wax Properties and MAS).

By summer 2010, the combined mortgage lending business had finally begun turning a profit. Shortly thereafter, the parties agreed to start receiving a salary of $10,000.00 per month each. At that time, they informally agreed that all business decisions and day-to-day executive functions of MAS were to be unanimously approved between them.

At the end of the year, the three men divided MAS's profits evenly among themselves, each receiving $120,000.00. The next week, they each made an additional contribution of $125,000.00 to the business. Then they drew a second profit distribution, totaling $64,500.00 each.  Thereafter, as MAS began to grow, so did its need to secure additional lines of credit. As collateral to secure a line of credit, Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Wax agreed to pledge their own, personal resources. However, Mr. Korotki refused to be personally liable for any amounts exceeding his one-third share; which eventually led to the unraveling of the venture.

In the spring, Mr. Korotki informed Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Wax of his decision to quit. When Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Wax allegedly refused to negotiate the terms of his departure and buyout, Mr. Korotki filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County for breach of contract and declaratory judgment under RUPA. After several years of litigation and the associated legal costs, the trial court ruled that the parties intended to form a partnership.

The appeal by MAS Associates was elevated to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.  The ruling at the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the trial court.  Specifically, the Court of Special Appeals ruled that the parties entered a “joint venture” in the short period of time between not signing the agreement and when they couldn’t agree to the terms of the merger.  

MAS Associates appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals and Judge Adkins reversed the lower court, holding: “The party asserting the existence of a partnership bears the burden of producing sufficient facts to conclusively demonstrate the parties’ intent to form a partnership. Intent can be explicit or based on the parties’ conduct and the surrounding circumstances. Sharing profits and losses, equal management authority, making capital contributions, and whether the parties were concurrently seeking to form another type of business entity can all be factors the courts consider when evaluating intent.

Here, the trial court made an error of law when it concluded that Harry Korotki’s $275,000 in payments to Saralee Greenberg were capital contributions for a new entity, and to the extent that it applied a presumption of partnership based on receipt of profits, it also made an error of law. As for the other factors and evidence, taken together, the record lacks competent material evidence to conclude the parties formed a partnership and the trial court was clearly erroneous in concluding that they did.”


The Court of Appeals concluded that the parties, throughout the course of their business relationship and dealings, demonstrated that they never abandoned their pursuit of acquiring the membership interest in MAS.  Specifically, the Court ruled that it is a contradiction of Maryland law to simultaneously sustain the dual intention of acquiring an existing LLC’s membership interest and of forming a partnership or joint venture. The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the Court of Special Appeals (and the trial court).  

Important Factors for Businesses Considering a Merger

  1. Hire Business Law Counsel 
    The parties in this case hired independent regulatory counsel to guide them through the merger as well as personal business law attorneys.  The regulatory counsel devised a plan whereby the parties would eventually become members of the LLC. 

  2. Negotiate and Execute Agreements
    The regulatory counsel drafted documents per the instructions of the parties, the parties just couldn’t come to an agreement with certain aspects of the agreements – so instead of resolving them, they just never signed them and conducted business without certainty.

  3. Understand the Risk of Operating a Business Without Executed Agreements
    Independent counsel warned the parties and their representatives that it would be difficult to determine their rights and obligations without signed agreements.  While the parties disagreed over some points, namely liability, had they executed the agreements or more effectively communicated with regulatory counsel, it could have protected their interests as it related to their business relationship with one another.  Instead, the parties conducted business activities as though an agreement was executed – in other words, they didn’t let the lack of a signed business contract get in the way of transacting business.  Despite their regulatory counsel’s repeated recommendations and warnings, they ignored his advice. 

  4. Trusted Business Law Advice May Reduce Your Future Legal Fees
    The lesson here is that your actions and conduct today can potentially be used either against you, or in your favor, in the future.  In the absence of signed agreements, the Court had to look to the actions and conduct of the parties.  The parties ignored the independent regulatory counsel’s warnings and advice because they didn’t want to pay the legal bills (based on the testimony of one party).  A trusted business law attorney makes sure their clients understand that they are looking out for their best interests.  Clients are better served by paying legal fees to structure their business appropriately, rather than incur problems and costly litigation later.

Chris Young is an associate in the Business & Tax practice at Miller, Miller & Canby. He focuses his practice on corporate legal agreements, business formation, tax controversy work and helping clients deal with new tax regulations. He may be reached at 301-762-5212 or via email.  View more information about Miller, Miller & Canby's Business & Tax practice by clicking here.

Michael Campbell
is a partner in the litigation group at Miller, Miller & Canby. He focuses his practice on commercial, real estate and construction litigation.  Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for an inquiry.  For more information about the firm’s litigation practice, click here. For more information about the firm’s business and contract law practice, click here.





Attorneys James Thompson and Jody Kline Selected for 2020 Best Lawyers in America® for 14th Year


Miller, Miller & Canby’s James (Jim) Thompson and Joel (Jody) Kline have been named Best Lawyers for the 2020 edition of Best Lawyers in America.®  Both attorneys have been recognized on the Best Lawyers list in their respective areas of practice every year since first being named in 2007. Mr. Thompson has been recognized for Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law and Mr. Kline for Land Use and Zoning Law.  Mr. Thompson is also named a “Best Lawyer of the Year” for 2020 for his accomplishments.   This is the second year Mr. Thompson has achieved this recognition.

Jim Thompson
has been a leader in Miller, Miller & Canby's Litigation Group for more than 35 years, concentrating his practice in eminent domain (with partner Joseph Suntum) and in real estate valuation litigation, as well as in property tax assessment appeals (with partner Michael Campbell) and general civil litigation. For more than a decade, Mr. Thompson represented Maryland as the sole member in the Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of property rights attorneys with demonstrated excellence in this area, focusing upon the representation of landowners in eminent domain litigation. He has also served in numerous leadership roles within the legal community in Maryland, including President of the Maryland State Bar Association.

Jody Kline
has led Miller, Miller & Canby’s Land Development department since 1981, focusing his practice in land use, zoning and subdivision law and representing clients in many of Montgomery County’s planning and economic development initiatives. In addition to zoning and subdivision law, he represents clients in matters related to master planning, zoning text amendments, conditional use permits, building permit issuance, and other administrative and real estate matters related to land use and development. His clients include residential and commercial developers, private individuals, religious institutions, private schools, non-profit entities and municipal corporations and agencies.

Best Lawyers in America is the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the country. Recognition is based entirely on peer review. For more than 30 years, the organization has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them across hundreds of areas of practice.

Best Lawyers publishes a stand-alone publication which announces recognized attorneys. Best Lawyers lists are also published in local, regional, and national print and digital versions of leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.

For more information about Jim Thompson and Miller, Miller & Canby’s Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law practice click here or for information about Jody Kline and Miller, Miller & Canby's Land Use and Zoning Law practice click here. View the firm press release by clicking the Download button below.
 





MM&C Attorney James Thompson Selected 2020 Best Lawyers in America® “Lawyer of The Year"


Miller, Miller & Canby’s James (Jim) Thompson has been named a Lawyer of the Year for the 2020 edition of Best Lawyers in America.®  This is the second year Mr. Thompson has achieved this recognition.  

Jim Thompson
has been a leader in Miller, Miller & Canby's Litigation Group for more than 35 years, concentrating his practice in eminent domain (with partner Joseph Suntum) and in real estate valuation litigation, as well as in property tax assessment appeals (with partner Michael Campbell) and general civil litigation. For more than a decade, Mr. Thompson represented Maryland as the sole member in the Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of property rights attorneys with demonstrated excellence in this area, focusing upon the representation of landowners in eminent domain litigation. He has also served in numerous leadership roles within the legal community in Maryland, including President of the Maryland State Bar Association.

The “Lawyer of the Year” recognition is exclusive, meaning there is only one attorney selected for each metropolitan area and practice area. Mr. Thompson also won this recognition in 2013.

Best Lawyers in America is the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the country. Recognition is based entirely on peer review. For more than 30 years,  the organization has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them across hundreds of areas of practice.

Best Lawyers publishes a stand-alone publication which announces recognized attorneys. Best Lawyers lists are also published in local, regional, and national print and digital versions of leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.

For more information about Jim Thompson and Miller, Miller & Canby’s Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law practice click here or for information about the Maryland Property Tax Appeals practice click here. View the firm press release by clicking the Download button below.
 





Michael Campbell Begins Presidency of Montgomery County Inn of Court


Miller, Miller & Canby’s Michael Campbell has begun a one-year term as President of the Montgomery County Inn of the American Inns of Court.  The American Inns of Court is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals who share a passion for legal excellence.  The mission of the organization is to “inspire the legal community to advance the rule of law by achieving the highest level of professionalism through example, education and mentoring.”

“I am honored to assume this role for the coming year, and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and our legal community, furthering the mission of the American Inns of Court,” said Mr. Campbell.

Through monthly meetings, the Inn hosts a dinner followed by a presentation, demonstration or guest speaker. In this collegial environment, outside the courtroom and pressure of daily practice, members discuss legal practice, principals and methods and provide mentorship to new lawyers.  The Montgomery County Inn of Court boasts 136 active members. Its meeting in September will feature Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Mr. Campbell is a partner in Miller, Miller & Canby’s litigation group, with a practice that is diverse and extensive. He focuses his practice on real estate and construction disputes in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and before arbitration panels. He handles cases relating to commercial and residential construction projects, property and lease disputes, property tax appeals, and other commercial matters.

View the firm press release by clicking the Download button below.





Maryland Holds the Line on Property Tax Rate; But Buyers Should Consider Total Tax Burden


Recently, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to keep the state property tax rate at its current level.  The Board is composed of the Governor, Comptroller and State Treasurer.  Governor Larry Hogan, a fiscal conservative, announced that holding the rate was part of his commitment to “prudent capital spending.”  As a result, the state tax rate will remain at 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, or 0.112% of total value.  That means a property assessed at $1,000,000 will incur a state tax of $1,120 annually.

While this might suggest good news for Maryland property owners, the state property tax is only a small portion of the overall tax burden on properties.  Each non-exempt property is also subject to county property taxes and, in some jurisdictions, municipal property taxes as well.  For instance, in Montgomery County, a D.C. suburb and the most populated county in the State, the current county tax rate is 0.9927%, which adds another $9,927 in taxes for a $1,000,000 assessment.  Further, a person owning property in Takoma Park, located inside Montgomery County and on the D.C. border, would pay an additional municipal tax of 0.5291.  Consequently, a non-exempt property assessed at $1,000,000 in Takoma Park is subject to a total property tax rate of 1.6338%, equaling $16,338 in annual property taxes.

Other Maryland municipalities that impose a third layer of property taxes include Frederick City (0.73%), Hyattsville (0.63%), and Annapolis (0.54%). When considering the location and timing of purchasing property in the Maryland, buyers should consider the total property taxes imposed annually.  Moreover, if the pre-purchase assessment is lower than the purchase price, the buyer can generally expect the assessment to increase up to the purchase price for the next triennial assessment cycle. The local assessment offices track sales of properties and will pick up the sale price when issuing new assessments.

Miller, Miller & Canby has been challenging the assessments of various types of properties in Maryland for more than 30 years and has obtained substantial reductions in real property assessments for our clients. We have successfully appealed the assessments on office buildings, retail stores, senior living centers, warehouses, industrial sites, casinos, apartment buildings, golf courses and cemeteries. 
Michael Campbell
 is a partner in the litigation group at Miller, Miller & Canby.  In addition to trial and appellate advocacy, his practice focuses on real estate litigation and property tax assessment appeals.  Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for property tax guidance or to help reduce your commercial Maryland property tax assessment.  For more information about the firm’s Maryland property tax appeals practice and representative cases, click here.





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