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April 2012 Archives

Legal fees awarded in eminent domain dispute with government

The Rails to Trails program has been a popular program nationwide. Many communities enjoy the conversion of unused rail road tracks into walking and biking trails. However, few people are aware that much of the land used for those trails was privately owned before the government decided to turn it into trails.

Renting on the rise

Analysts estimate that over the next few years, about 6 million more homes will fall into foreclosure. While this is certainly not good news for the properties themselves, it also means that many of those homeowners will become renters. The rental market has been favorable for landlords recently, setting records for low vacancy rates in many major U.S. cities.

Should you consider a testamentary trust in your estate plan?

Michiganders might be interested in a recent article by a retired probate judge who offers advice on some of the most common estate planning mistakes people should avoid when preparing for their families' futures. In this particular article he discusses the use of trusts to protect the assets of an estate, however the information is general and the laws do vary from state to state. Check with an estate planning attorney in your area to learn more about estate planning laws applicable in your state.

Struggling homeowners at risk for mortgage relief scams

Many homeowners are familiar with the offers they get in the mail advertising mortgage relief or refinancing programs. Some of the offers seem too good to be true, and a recent action by the Federal Trade Commission suggests that they are not true.

Short sales increasingly popular

New housing data indicates that short sales are become more and more common as an alternative to possible foreclosure. A short sale occurs when a property owner sells for less than the amount owed on their mortgages. A short sale may enable a property owner to preserve their credit rating and avoid a default on their mortgage.

What happens to your debt when you die? (Part 2)

As discussed in last week's post, what happens to your debt when you die depends on a number of factors, including the type of debt it is, whether it is secured debt, such s a home or vehicle, and the name on the title of the property securing the debt. If you live in a community property state you may be held liable for the debt of deceased spouse whether or not you actually co-signed for the loan.

Landlord and tenants argue over possible haunted house

Landlords and tenants typically argue over issues like a broken air conditioner or past due rent or other easily anticipated elements of occupying a rental property. A family in New Jersey recently filed a complaint against their landlord for a very unusual reason. They believe the house is haunted.

Notable Detroit mansion back on the market

An English manor-style home built in 1915 is back on the market in Detroit for the first time in more than 30 years. The historic home, known as Stone Hedge, is a rare glimpse in to life in Detroit just after the turn of the century. The lavish home is over 9,000 square feet and has quartersawn oak paneled walls, 11 bedrooms, and nine fireplaces.

What happens to your debt when you die? (Part 1)

Being named as the sole beneficiary of a relative's estate may not be what it once was with so many properties upside down and the nation's credit card debt at record levels. What do you do if you are willed a house in which the mortgage owed is more than the value of the house? Generally speaking, personal debt dies with the person, however as in all things in life, exceptions exist and estate and probate litigation laws vary state by state.

Michigan legal decision could hurt commercial real estate owners

An appellate court in Michigan upheld a lower court's ruling that will allow debt holders to recover money from landlords who foreclose on commercial property. Bondholders are now able go after the personal wealth of commercial real estate owners to recover loans. In the past, lenders had no other recourse once the keys to the property were handed over.

Why you should consider a trust to protect your family home

It is hard enough losing a parent, but to have the state come after your inheritance afterwards can make an already difficult time that much more traumatic. That is what is happening to one Michigan family who is learning that their mother's will doesn't matter to the state as it tries to enforce the Estate Recovery Law. Since last year the state has been attempting to enforce this law, which allows the state to recover taxpayer money from individuals who receive long-term Medicaid care.

Housing prices improve in Detroit

Detroit is one of only three metro areas to show a rise in home prices, according to the Case-Shiller index released recently. The report shows that in January of 2012, home prices were up by 1.7% over the previous year. Experts say that it is difficult to draw conclusions from this set of data because of the large percentage of short-sales that are occurring in the metro area. Although for the last seven months prices have increased in Detroit, overall they are still below prices from the 2000.

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