The Value of Summer Memories at The Family Cottage

It doesn’t matter what time of day you arrive, everything always looks the same. Granted, the trees are taller and wildflowers seem to be growing everywhere. But your family cottage is the same to you today as it’s always been.

Cubby holes filled with trinkets and treasures
While waving hello to neighboring friends you realize every family cottage and summer home is as different as the memories gathered by families every summer. Each cottage has a special cubby hole filled with trinkets and treasures from sandy beaches and hiking adventures through surrounding woods. Weathered hinges guarantee screen doors will squeak open and slam shut right on cue announcing that this is summer. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of racing down to the lake and assuming every summer will be just like the last.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Have Clear Title to Your Real Estate?

A problematic trend seems to be emerging with banks failing to properly discharge liens of previous property owners. Recently when I’ve been assisting clients in the sale of both commercial and residential real estate we’ve encountered significant problems caused by banks that failed to properly discharge liens of previous owners after my clients purchased the property. These lien discharge problems have in some instances almost caused sales to be terminated and have caused significant delays resulting in hardship and increased costs for the parties to the transaction.

The Problem
When you, as a purchaser of real estate, close on the purchase of property, most often a seller has an existing mortgage that must be paid off with closing proceeds. This is typically done by the title company as the closing agent or perhaps an attorney who is handling the acceptance of funds from a purchaser and disbursing those funds to pay various liens on a property that must be satisfied to give the purchaser clear title. The problem arises when loans and mortgages are paid with closing proceeds and the bank receiving the funds fails to record a “Discharge of Mortgage” or lien document evidencing the loan has been paid in full. This problem has been further complicated recently with the chaos in the banking industry including the multiple acquisitions and requisitions of certain bank entities. A bank that received a mortgage payoff five years ago may have been sold as an entity several times making it next to impossible to determine the location of loan records.

Read the rest of this entry »

Attorney Dan A. Penning Successfully Defends Appeal

Dan A. Penning Successfully Defends Appeal with Michigan Court of AppealsRecent oral arguments presented by attorney Dan A. Penning, before a Michigan Court of Appeals panel of judges, resulted in a unanimous 3-0 vote in which the Appeals judges upheld the trial court’s decision dismissing the case.

Penning argued in support of a Circuit Court’s decision dismissing a lawsuit against Penning’s client for trespass, nuisance and other claims relating to the client’s development of property filed by another property owner.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Lady Bird Deeds” – What You Should Know

Recently, many of my estate planning clients have asked questions about Lady Bird Deeds and when it is appropriate to use these instruments in estate planning. Like any planning tool, a Lady Bird Deed can be helpful in some situations, but is not appropriate in all cases. The use of a Lady Bird Deed in the wrong situation can lead to unintended or negative results.

What is a Deed?
A deed is a legal instrument that conveys an interest in real estate (land and building) from one party to another. There are many types of deeds that are used to accomplish different objectives.
The most common type of deed that people are familiar with is where there is an outright transfer of ownership from one party to the other, such as in the sale of a residence. This most common type of transaction utilizes a “fee simple” deed which is used to convey property from one (or more) owner to another. When Person “A” conveys real property to Person “B” by a “fee simple” deed, Person “B” becomes the owner of the property immediately upon the execution of and delivery of the deed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed Tax Would Actually Hit Family Businesses Hard

Proposed “Carried Interest” Tax Purports to Soak Wall Street But Hits Family Businesses

Proposed Carried Interest Tax Hits Beyond Wall StreetFor the time being, the Senate has again abandoned efforts to impose a “carried interest tax” on venture capitalists, investors, and managers of family businesses. The tax would have increased the 15% capital gains tax rate on certain investors’ profits to the top income tax rate, which is scheduled to hit 39.6% on January 1st (H.R. 4213). The share of investors’ profits is called “carried interest.” It might appear at first glance that it’s perfectly fine for investment managers to be taxed at higher rates on their “carried interest.” But venture capitalists and investors don’t reside exclusively on Wall Street. The law was written so broadly that it could have hit approximately 6.5 million people invested in real estate partnerships that own anything from a single dwelling to sizable commercial properties.

The proposed legislation attempts to sway middle America by couching the carried interest tax as imposing a higher rate on “investment management services” and “investment managers” who work for Wall Street houses.

Read the rest of this entry »