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August 2012 Archives

Home price gains could be sign of long term recovery

In our last post we wrote about the rising home prices in Detroit. The city led the nation in gains this summer, topping out at six percent in May and June. Some experts say that the modest increases in markets all over the country could be a signal that the residential real estate market is beginning a permanent upward climb out of the recession's foreclosure cycle.

Detroit housing market leads nation in growth

Home prices rose by six percent in the Detroit area in May and June, leading the country in growth in what many experts say is a rebounding housing market. The average increase nationwide was 2.3 percent.

Life events that can trigger a review of your estate plan, part 2

As discussed in last week's post, there are a number of life events that should trigger a review of your estate planning goals and documentation, including a marriage, divorce or death in the family. Often certain aspects of an estate plan are missed in a divorce, such as changing the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or bank accounts. Durable powers of attorney should also be updated along with the names on any trusts. This step also includes children who turn 18-years of age, as discussed in a post a few weeks back.

Buying vacation homes: getting your best investment

Though real estate law often deals more in disputes than in vacations, purchasing a vacation home can be a great investment for you and your family, and by using the law, you can work to protect your new asset. Negotiating for the best purchase agreement is a great move with the help of an attorney, and can ensure the fairest price is reached. Creating a limited liability company (LLC) of your family for the ownership of a property can help to protect from personal liability and ensure that the property stays in the family through the future.

More parents investing in housing for college students

Moving a child into their first college dorm has been a right-of-passage for many families as an offspring moves onto the next phase of their life. However, the dorm system is losing its popularity and more and more students are choosing to live off campus.

Life events that can trigger a review of your estate plan, part 1

If you already have an estate plan in place you are way ahead of the curve. Having a proper estate plan means you care enough about your estate and your loved ones to ensure they are handled appropriately upon your death. Having an estate plan is only one step in the process however ensuring these documents are relevant to your current needs requires periodic review from time to time. And with that thought, here are five of the most common life-changing events that require just such a review to ensure your estate plan is up to date.

High-end home prices dropping

We've written in the past about the difficulty faced by owners who invested in a larger, more luxurious home during better economic times. Many owners who bought in the early 2000s have continued to hang onto their homes even as the mortgages may be underwater, in hopes that the prices will recover. In our last post we discussed the generally positive effect this has had on the market in Detroit, where homes these days are selling quickly and at asking price because of lower inventory.

James Brown's estate in a quagmire of litigation, finger-pointing

When people in Michigan plan their last will and testament, they do so with the idea their final wishes will be followed to the letter of the law. Even though music icon James Brown's estate plan specifically states that anyone who contests his will should not receive anything from his estate that is not how things have ended up. Instead of choosing to enforce that clause in his will, and in essence protect the very charitable organization Mr. Brown left the majority of his estate to, the assistant Attorney General in charge of the case chose to award more than half of Mr. Brown's estate to parties who contested the will in probate litigation.

Supply dwindles, prices rise in metro Detroit housing market

Housing data from July has many market watchers optimistic about the recovery in Detroit. Last month, home sales rose by about 11 percent and the median sale price rose 12.2 percent after months of decline.

Urban landscape changes as retail chains move in

Big box stores like Target and Walmart have been making headlines recently as new locations of the traditionally suburban warehouse stores are popping up in cities. The stores are smaller in size and designed differently and carry different merchandise that is packaged differently than suburban stores. Urban shoppers have previously been skeptical of these businesses opening in downtown areas, but recent efforts by the retailers to better suit the environment seem to be paying off.

Estate planning needs of adult children in Michigan

Oftentimes when a child turns eighteen in Michigan and elsewhere it is not considered a major deal, except to the child maybe. But did you know that once your child turns 18 years of age you could be kept out of certain decisions regarding their healthcare, among others? Without a legal document stating otherwise, you as a parent of an adult child may not be the one to choose their medical care or treatment should they become seriously injured or otherwise incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own behalf.

Eminent domain creates conflict among government entities

Mortgage-backed securities made the news frequently in the first part of the recession when the housing bubble burst. A mortgage-backed security is basically an investment in the loans that are given to mortgage holders and entitles the investor to a share of the profits from that loan. This type of security was seen as a very safe and smart investment until loan qualification standards were relaxed and many people were able to obtain mortgages that they were unable to pay back.

Home price index improves in many major cities

The home price index published by the S&P and Case-Shiller is one of the central economic indicators that many experts use to evaluate the recovery. While single months of data are not definitive indicators of how the economy or the housing market is doing overall, the numbers that come out each month do help track general trends. For property owners and investors, the home price index can help predict when to buy and sell.

The State Bar of Michigan to host estate planning seminars

The State Bar of Michigan is planning on holding estate planning seminars this week in western Michigan with the goal of arming senior citizens with as much estate planning information as possible in the one-hour sessions. The five sessions are part of a total of 28 seminars that will be held across Michigan in 9 different counties. Along with the State Bar of Michigan's Unauthorized Practice Law Committee, the seminars' partners include the SBM Elder Law and Disability Rights and SBM Probate and Estate Planning sections.

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