Email signup

Neighborhood Expert: Ask the expert — a conversation with a family law attorney

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or

Part of my job as a real estate agent requires heavy conversations.

Sometimes I get to be part of celebratory moments in life and sometimes I get to be part of a not so happy moment in life. I often remind people of their responsibilities of being an adult and am the nagging mom nobody invited along. One of the other people who gets to be part of these same moments is Sonja Aoun, an attorney with Tysons based law firm BrigliaHundley.

BrigliaHundley is a long time sponsor of Vienna Little League and was recently ranked as one of US News and World Reports Best Law Firms for 2022.

I had the chance to talk to Sonja about how homeownership changes your responsibilities as an adult. I’d like to introduce a new series I’m going to do called “Ask The Expert” and we’re kicking it off with everyone’s least favorite subject: death.

Q: If 2 or more people are buying a home together and they are not married, what should they consider doing before closing day?

A: I highly recommend discussing and executing an equity sharing agreement. It helps to protect everyone equally. It is a shared financial agreement that allows parties to split ownership. If the two parties plan to get married, they can follow up with a pre-marital agreement.

Q: What are the advantages of putting a home in a trust?

A: I’m going to caveat this answer by saying I’m not a CPA. However, if you don’t need a trust for tax purposes, a trust does avoid probate and makes it easier for the loved ones you leave behind. It also protects the asset from creditors.

Q: If you bought a home and didn’t have kids, but now you do, what should you consider?

A: Get a will! It’s the only legal protection to specifically name who gets guardianship of your children once you die. You can also decide what happens to your assets to be used to care for your children until they’re a certain age.

Q: If you’re getting divorced, what should you consider before selling a home?

A: I’d suggest you talk to a realtor, a financial planner, and a certified divorce mortgage lender so they can discuss the asset’s worth and whether it’s worth holding onto or not. They can also advise if you can afford to keep it. Also, do not compare the equity in the home to a retirement account when discussing division of assets. They are not equal.

Q: If you need to sell a home after a loved one has passed, what documents do you need? What should you consider?

A: You need to know if there’s a will or trust, as that will determine your next steps. You’ll need a copy of those documents plus a death certificate, and you’ll need to talk to someone to advise you of how to go through probate (if applicable) and fill out that paperwork.

I also asked Sonja for one piece of advice she wished more people knew. Her response was insightful:

“Just take care of it. It makes it so much easier for the ones you leave behind. Nobody likes to deal with these things, but just do it and then you’re done — you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

If you’re interested in learning more about wills, trusts, Sonja’s services or estates, they have a great free resource you can download here.

Recent Stories

This past week saw 218 homes sold in Fairfax County. The least expensive condo, single-family home or townhouse sale over the past seven days was $180,000 while the most expensive…

Today (Thursday) marks a decade of community service, youth leadership, political activism and civic engagement in Virginia by the Hamkae Center. Over the last 10 years, the local nonprofit has…

The Faith Baptist Church that has occupied 301 Center Street South in Vienna for about seven decades will officially be torn down. Faced with increasing maintenance costs, the Vienna Town…

Arrowbrook Centre, an anchoring mixed-use neighborhood near the Innovation Center Metro station, is moving one step forward to completion. Several pieces of the 54-acre development, which is bounded by the…

Camps are just the beginning of what’s in store at Art House 7 this summer. We’re thrilled to offer an array of exciting classes for both kids and adults!Rediscover your creativity with some of our AH7 favorites, such as drawing, hand-sewing, modern embroidery, and our popular 3-week Jump into Crochet classes. But that’s not all! We’ve added some fresh and exciting options to our summer class selection, guaranteed to spark your imagination.

To enhance your artistic journey, we have intensified some of our Ceramics: The Wheel classes to a full 3-hour duration. This extended time allows for more creativity and skill development in each class session. If you’re eager for a captivating twist, give Contemporary Still-Life Drawing & Painting a go. Or why not try an immersive outdoor painting adventure? We have a unique opportunity for you to bring your painting skills to life while learning and creating in the great outdoors with our Landscape Painting: Studio and Plein Air class!

We invite you to visit our website and explore our full Summer Session schedule, brimming with a diverse range of classes and camps. Classes and camps begin June 20th. Unleash your inner artist, broaden your horizons, and embark on a summer adventure like no other. Let’s make this a summer to remember at Art House 7!

Submit your own Community Post here.

Potomac Harmony Chorus has a new director! We’re ready
to kick off the season with new music, a new approach, and YOU!

Potomac Harmony is one of 500 choruses in Sweet
Adelines International. We’re a vibrant,
contemporary, inclusive, welcoming, and open community of women singers who
perform four-part harmony, barbershop style, committed to a high level of
achievement through teaching, mentoring, personal growth, and performance. Our vision is to entertain, educate, and
enrich lives through musical expression while promoting the barbershop art

Potomac Harmony recently had our first performance
with our new director, receiving rave reviews! We invite you to stop by any Wednesday
evening and be part of the fun and harmony!

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Army Birthday Festival – Free and Fun

Make Saturday, June 10, 2023 a great day!

Come celebrate the Army Birthday Festival at the National Museum of the U.S. Army from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Rain or Shine!

• Experience outdoor and indoor fun activities, for all

Unveiling of West Ford historical highway marker

Gum Springs will be celebrating 190 years of its founding by freedman West Ford on Saturday, June 17, 2023. To kick-off the celebration, there will be an unveiling of a Virginia historical highway marker for West Ford on Fordson Road


Subscribe to our mailing list