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Thursday, September 30 2010

Adding a wood stove is an energy-efficient, money-saving way to bring a cozy feeling to your house, if you’re willing to spend time stoking the fire

Although wood stoves might conjure up images of a smoke-belching potbelly in a backwoods cabin, today’s models are up to 80% efficient, meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission guidelines, and reduce heating bills by nearly half when energy prices are high.


The best use of an energy-efficient wood stove is to supplement an existing heat source, such as electricity or gas. This method, called zoned heating, ensures all your rooms are toasty. Wood stoves aren’t good at heating entire houses with many small rooms and long hallways.

Feelin’ the heat

  • Wood stoves can heat 400 sq. ft. to 3,000 sq. ft, depending on the layout of your house and the size of the stove.
  • Prefabricated chimney pipes let you install them practically anywhere—even in front of an existing hearth.
  • Optional fans circulate air around the firebox and into your room, spreading warmth and eliminating cold spots.

What do they cost?

  • A good wood stove from a reputable company averages about $3,000 to $4,200, including the stovepipe and installation.
  • Small wood stoves may cost as little as $1,000; elaborate, stainless steel models can stretch the price to $10,000 or more.
  • You may recoup some costs when you sell your home. In his market, appraiser Gordon Lucks in Asheville, N.C., says you’ll get back $2,000 on a $3,000 unit.

Cost of wood fuel

If you intend to use of an energy-efficient wood stove as a supplemental heating source, expect to burn two to five cords of wood each heating season. However, heat output varies widely according to the type of firewood you’ll burn.

You can expect to pay between $150 and $350 for a cord of hardwood delivered and stacked. To save money, pick up your own loads directly from the wood lot.

Your money won’t go up in smoke

Using an energy-efficient wood stove for heating can save a bundle, potentially 10% to 40% of annual heating costs of with an electric, fuel oil, or gas furnace. With average annual heating costs of $638, according to Energy Star, your yearly savings could range from $64 to $255.

Tax credits for wood stoves

If you’re buying a wood stove, you’re in luck—until the end of calendar year 2010. There are federal tax credits of up to $1,500 available for wood stoves (referred to at Energy Star as biomass stoves). However, those credits go away after December 31, 2010.

Douglas Trattner has written extensively about home improvement topics for, DIYNetworks, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. During the 10-year stewardship of his 1925 Colonial, he estimates that he burned through 15 cords of wood. Most, he promises, was properly seasoned hardwood.

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Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 12:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 29 2010
A real estate purchase is one of the best investments you can make — so be certain to protect your land ownership against possible title problems that can hinder the transfer and marketability of your real property. These problems are defects and occur before the date of the policy and remain undisclosed until sometime later. Even the most thorough search of the public records cannot reveal some the "hidden" hazards.
A one-time premium will safeguard your property from actual loss and defense costs (unless specifically excluded), up to the policy amount, resulting from any risk covered by your policy. A mortgage policy protects only your lender against tide defects. Purchasing an owner's policy of tide insurance will protect your interests.   Title insurance covers tide defects such as:
1.             Forged deeds, mortgages, releases of mortgages and other instruments.
2.             False impersonation of the true owner of the land or of his consort.
3.             Instruments executed under fabricated or expired power of attorney (death).
4.             Deeds apparently valid but actually delivered after death of grantor or grantee, or without
consent of the grantor.
5.             Deeds by persons of unsound mind.
6.             Deeds by minors.
7.             Deeds not properly delivered.
8.             Deeds that appear to convey title but are really mortgages.
9.             Outstanding prescriptive rights not of record and not disclosed by survey.
10.      Descriptions apparently, but not actually, adequate.
11.      Duress in execution of instruments.

12.       Defective acknowledgment due to lack of authority of notary.   (Acknowledgement taken
before commission or after expiration of commission)
13.       Deed or property recited to be separate property of grantor, which is in fact, community or
joint property.
14.       Deed from bigamous couple. (Prior existing marriage in another jurisdiction)
15.       Undisclosed divorce of spouse who conveys as sole heir of deceased consort.
16.       Undisclosed heirs.
17.       Misinterpretation of wills, deeds and other instruments.
18.       Birth or adoption of children after date of will.
19.       Children living at date of will but not mentioned therein.
20.       Discovery of will of apparent intestate.
21.       Discovery of later will after probate of first will.
22.       Administration of estate and probate of wills of persons absent but not deceased.
23.       Conveyance by heir, devisee or survivor of a joint estate who murdered the decedent.
24.       Deed from trustee of purported business trust, which is in fact, a partnership or joint stock
25.       Deed of executor under non-intervention will when order of solvency has been fraudulently
procured or entered.
26.       Deeds to or from corporations before incorporation or after surrender, or forfeiture, of
27.       Claims of creditors against property conveyed by heirs/devisees within prescribed period
after owner's death.
28.       Mistakes in recording legal documents.      For example, incorrect indexing, errors in
transcribing and failure to preserve original instrument.
29.       Record easement, but erroneous ancient location of pipe or sewer line, which does not
follow route of granted easements.
30.       Special assessments where they become liens upon passage of resolution and before
recordation or commencement of improvements for which assessed.

31.        Want of jurisdiction of person in judicial proceedings.
32.        Failure to include necessary parties in judicial proceedings.
33.        Federal estate and gift tax liens.
34.        State inheritance and gift tax liens.
35.        Errors in tax records. For example, listing payment against wrong property.
36.        Ineffective waiver of tax liens by tax or other governing authorities repudiated later by
37.        Corporation franchise taxes as lien on all corporate assets, notice of which does not have to
be recorded in the local recording office.
38.        Erroneous reports furnished by tax officials, but not binding on municipality.
39.        Tax homestead exemptions set aside as fraudulently claims.
40.        Lack of capacity of foreign personal representatives and trustees to act.
41.        Deeds from nonexistent entities.
42.        Interests arising by deeds to fictitious characters to conceal illegal activities on the premises.
43.        Deed in lieu of foreclosure set aside as being given under duress.
44.        Ultra vires deed given under falsified corporate resolution.
45.   Conveyances and proceedings affecting right of servicemen protected by the Soldiers and
Sailors Civil Relief Act.
46.        Federal condemnation without filing of notice. Federal law does not require filing of notice
of taking in local recording office.
47.        Break in chain of title beyond period of examination or public records where running of
adverse possession statue has been suspended.   True owners are incompetent, absent or
incarcerated or the sovereign holds title.
48.        Deed from record owner of land where he has sold property to another purchaser on
unrecorded land contract and the purchaser has taken possession of premises.
49.        Void conveyances in violations of public policy:   payment on gambling debt, payment for
contract to commit crime or conveyance made in restraint of trade.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 01:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 28 2010
Indiana Rocks!!
The State of Indiana is positioned among the best in the country to do business. Once we are out of the recession, Indiana can see major increases of new business opportunities. Here is a list that sheds light on this situation:
·        Indiana created 56,000 private sector jobs this year. Almost 10% of all private sector jobs created nationwide. (5 times National Average)
·        42 States have raised taxes--Indiana has cut taxes (only State)
·        Indiana is ranked 2nd Nationally in Fiscal responsibility.
·        Because of our Fiscal soundness, Indiana is the friendliest state to grow a business.
·        Our State Pension debt is funded—Unlike other States
·        We are in a better place than we have ever been—Any Company thinking about expansion is looking at Indiana.
·        Indiana took advantage of the Stimulus Package better than any other State, because we had the money to start projects, prior to receiving Stimulus money.
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 03:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 27 2010

Here are the products grabbing the attention of the home building and remodeling industries, according to Bill Millholland, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Case Design/Remodeling in Maryland, and Jamie Gibbs, a New York-based interior designer:

· Appliance Drawers. Small warning drawers, modest-sized dishwasher drawers for small loads, refrigerator drawers and microwave drawers.

· Counter-depth refrigerators. Some are only 24 inches deep.

· Motion-detecting faucets. Like you'd find in the restrooms of businesses.

· LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. These are used under cabinets and in ceiling fixtures as a longer-lasting, more efficient alternative to compact fluorescent lamps and incandescent bulbs.

· Electric heated floors. A nice touch in bathrooms,

· Showers with multiple heads and body sprays. Bathtubs are out.

Source: The Washington Post (09/25/2010)

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 03:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, September 25 2010

The National Association of REALTORS® is pleased to report that Congress has unanimously approved a one-year extension, until Sept. 30, 2011, for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). A long-term extension has been a top legislative priority for NAR. Earlier in 2010 the NFIP lapsed, causing major disruptions for REALTORS®, and with the Sept. 30 deadline fast approaching, NAR redoubled its efforts to extend the program.

REALTOR® advocacy efforts helped make the long-term extension a reality. When Congress returned to Washington, D.C. in mid-September, NAR was waiting with its federal political coordinators who came to D.C. to meet with key senators and urge the long-term extension. Additionally, on Sept. 22 NAR was ably represented by Maryland REALTOR® Nick D’Ambrosia. He stressed to the Senate Committee on Banking NAR’s commitment to extend and strengthening the program beyond 2011 for the long-term. While the one-year extension brings a level of certainty to the NFIP, there needs to be comprehensive reform measures to place the NFIP on more sound financial footing for at least another five years.

Flood Insurance Timeline

Sept. 21, 2010 S. 3814 Approved by Unanimous Consent in the Senate

Sept. 23, 2010 S. 3814 Approved by Voice Vote in House of Representatives

The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature as soon as next week. With program authority now extended for a year, it is expected that attention will turn to proposals to reform and ensure the financial soundness of the NFIP. While the House passed its reform bill (H.R. 5114) earlier this year, it is unlikely that a comprehensive reform bill will move until the 112th Congress goes into session next year.

Source: NAR

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 24 2010

Officials at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus are reporting an increase in customers this year of approximately 13 percent. Public Relations Director Paula Werne says the jump can be mainly attributed to the debut of the park's new water coaster, Wildebeest. Holiday World has also announced plans for more than $5 million in improvements by next summer.

That includes $1 million in parking lot improvements and additional restrooms.

Werne says the decisions on what improvements should be made comes partly from customer feedback, along with the park's long-term planning process.

She also says the debut of a major new ride usually leads to a two-year bump in attendance, allowing the park to focus on important upkeep items such as parking lot improvements and more restrooms.

The park is also planning to restore the town's historic Santa statue in the next year. It was dedicated in 1935.

Source: Holiday World & Splashin Safari & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 21 2010

By Robert Freedman, senior editor, REALTOR® Magazine

A piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday took issue with a recent Time cover story calling into question some of our most cherished beliefs about homeownership. Much of what the Journal talks about isn’t new. In fact, it recites benefits of homeownership that you already know better than anyone. But in pulling them together in the way it does, it makes you realize just how compelling homeownership is from just about every standpoint. If you haven’t seen the piece, by Brett Arends, here’s a thumbnail sketch of its 10 points:

Why is now a great time to buy?

1. You can get a good deal. Prices are down 30 percent on average. They’re at a level that makes sense for people’s income.

2. Mortgages are cheap. At 4.3 percent on average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, your costs to own are down by a fifth from two years ago.

3. You can save on taxes. When you add up the deductions for mortgage interest and others, the cost of owning can drop below renting for a comparable place.

4. It’ll be yours. The one benefit to owning that never changes is that you can paint your walls orange if you want (generally speaking; there might be some community restrictions). How many landlords will let you do that?

5. You can get a better home. In some markets, it’s simply the case that the nicest places are for-sale homes and condos.

6. It offers some inflation protection. Historically, appreciation over time outpaces inflation.

7. It’s risk capital. If the economy picks up, you stand to benefit from that, even if you’re goal is just to have a nice place to live.

8. It’s forced savings. A part of your payment each month goes to equity.

9. There is a lot to choose from. There are some 4 million homes available today, about a year’s supply. Now’s the time to find something you like and get it.

10. Sooner or later the market will clear. The U.S. is expected to grow by another 100 million people in 40 years. They have to live somewhere. Demand will eventually outpace supply.

Read the story yourself.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 20 2010

Keep your refrigerator running efficiently and reliably with this simple maintenance routine.

“Refrigerators cool faster and work more efficiently when the condenser coils can breathe,” explains Doug Rogers, president of the Mr. Appliance repair chain. Dirty and congested coils lead not only to higher energy bills, but also a shortened appliance lifespan.


Here’s a list of maintenance tips to make sure your refrigerator stays cool and calm:

  • Every three months, vacuum the fan and condenser coils on the rear or bottom of the appliance using the brush attachment. Families with shedding pets should clean the coils monthly.
  • Every three months, clean the door gasket with warm soapy water and towel dry. Inspect the seal for snugness all the way around. Replace when loose, cracked, or torn.
  • Every six months, replace the unit’s water filter (when present) to ensure clean water and ice, and to prevent clogs and leaks.
  • Always keep food covered to prevent odors from migrating throughout the fridge and freezer. An open box of baking soda ($1) will absorb odor-causing acids for up to three months.
  • Always maintain an adequate amount of clearance on all sides of the appliance except for those that are zero-clearance or front-vented.
  • Every month, empty out the icemaker bucket and start fresh, as old cubes can absorb odors.
  • Every three months, verify that the appliance is level both front to back and side to side to ensure both proper door movement and ice maker operation.

Douglas Trattner has covered household appliances and home improvement for, DIYNetworks, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. During the 10-year stewardship of his 1925 Colonial, he’s upgraded almost every household appliance. After lengthy deliberation, he recently replaced an aging top-load washing machine with an energy-efficient front-load unit.

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Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 19 2010

Refinancing a mortgage to a lower interest rate can make sense for some homeowners. So too can taking out a home equity loan against the value you’ve built up, perhaps to finance a kitchen remodel or pay Junior’s college tuition. What doesn’t make sense is losing your home because you fall for home equity loan and refinancing scams such as loan flipping and equity stripping. Although scam artists can be very convincing, homeowners who know what to look out for are less likely to become victims.


Loan flipping

Loan flipping is a scam targeted at homeowners looking to get money back when they refinance a mortgage. This is often referred to as a cash-out refi. Scammers take advantage of this desire to tap the equity in a home to pay for things the homeowner couldn’t otherwise afford.

A cash-out refi in itself isn’t a scam. For some, it’s a smart way to borrow. What is a scam is when a lender, after receiving a few payments, comes back to you with an offer of another refinance, this time to fund a vacation or a new car. The easy money is difficult for some homeowners to turn down.

Many borrowers don’t realize how much they’re paying in fees to refinance. The U.S. Federal Reserve estimates the settlement costs on a typical refi to be 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Loan flippers often charge much more, plus they may quietly roll the settlement costs into the loan to disguise the total charges. Take a day or two to get quotes from several lenders and compare terms.

Loan flipping ultimately leaves you with more debt and more years that you’ll owe on that debt. When the equity finally dries up, you might not be able to afford your higher monthly payments and another refinancing will be impossible. You could be forced to sell your home.

Equity stripping

Equity stripping can occur in several ways, but at its heart is a scam artist who gains ownership of your home, borrows against it or sells it, pockets the proceeds, and disappears. You’re often left with a hefty mortgage balance and no place to live.

A telling sign of equity stripping is a lender that offers more loan than you can afford or that encourages you to pad your income on a loan application. Homeowners with low incomes but a good amount of equity built up are prime targets because they otherwise would have a hard time borrowing. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a lender that’s pushing a home loan with too-high monthly payments is likely counting of foreclosing on the property when you fall behind.

A variation on equity stripping has a scam artist talking you into selling your home at a discount or signing over the deed, perhaps with a promise of securing better loan terms if your name isn’t on it. The scammer promises to let you stay in the home as a renter until the refinancing is finalized, then you can buy back the home. In reality, the scam artist drains equity by borrowing against the house or selling the house, perhaps after evicting you.

According to Consumers Union, don’t agree to a home equity loan if you can’t afford it. A good rule of thumb: Your combined home loan payments shouldn’t exceed 28% of your gross income. The nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine also warns against signing any documents unless you understand them and turning over you property to anyone without first consulting a trusted adviser.

Phantom help

Watch out for unsolicited offers to refinance from companies claiming government affiliations. In particular, don’t be fooled by the use of official-sounding acronyms like “TARP” or official-looking website addresses. Scammers use these to gain your trust. Once they do, they’ll likely try to charge you for access to government assistance. Worse, they might extract enough personal information to commit identity theft.

You never need to pay to find out about legitimate government programs. A housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can point you in the right direction. For federal refinancing and loan modification help, check out the Making Home Affordable program.

New disclosure rules make spotting scams easier

Many unscrupulous lenders have relied on confusing paperwork to dupe borrowers into paying excessive upfront fees on loans. Others would pull last-minute rate switches at closing. Still others would disguise prepayment penalties, which can prove costly if you ever try to refinance again or retire a loan early.

Balloon payments, which come due at the end of a loan term, can also catch borrowers off-guard. A lender may offer a low monthly payment on an equity loan, but only because the payment is interest-only. The principal is due in one lump sum. Surprised homeowners must scramble to refinance again, tap other assets, or sell.

Disclosure rules that went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, make spotting these types of deceptions easier. All lenders are required to use redesigned Good Faith Estimate and HUD-1 Settlement Statement forms that clearly disclose key loan terms—including interest rates, prepayment penalties, and balloon payments—and closing costs.

The GFE is an estimate of loan terms and closing costs, while the HUD-1 is a final accounting of terms and costs. The redesigned forms, cross-referenced by line number, must be used for mortgage refinancing and home equity loans (with the exception of home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs). The only fee a lender is allowed to collect to issue a GFE is a charge for a credit report, which averages $37.

If you don’t receive the new forms, don’t do business with the lender. If the estimates on the GFE don’t match the final figures on the HUD-1, ask why. Some, but not all, fees are allowed to increase within a fixed range.

Donna Fuscaldo has written about personal finance for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox Business News for more than a decade. Like many homeowners, her mortgage is precariously close to being underwater.

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Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, September 18 2010

Clogged drains are a common problem that nearly every homeowner will encounter and have to resolve. Because the plumbing pipes are designed only to bring in clean water and eliminate wastewater, poorly maintained plumbing systems can result in clogged drains. There are various substances that can create clogs. These items are not supposed to be put in the drains. In order to prevent clogs, it is important to know what kinds of items make drains clogged in home plumbing systems.

1. The bathtub drains can become clogged with a variety of substances such as hair, soap, and chemical cleaning agents which can accumulate in the drain and build up in the pipes. To prevent build up of debris and matter causing clogs, you can insert strainers in the drain hole and keep them cleaned out. As well, after bathing or showering, make sure that you run the tap water thoroughly in order to make sure all matter has been pushed through the pipes.

2. Kitchen drains can become clogged due to food, grease, and debris being put in the drain. Pour grease into a can and put it with the trash instead of pouring it down the sink. Make sure you have cleaned off all dishes that held food before you rinse and wash them. Once a week, run hot water down the sink drain to keep the pipes clear of debris. You can also add a homemade drain cleaner consisting of vinegar and baking soda down the sink once a week and flush it with hot water to remove accumulation of matter. As well, never use the garbage disposer without running water down the pipes to flush out the food particles and organic debris. Don’t put tough, fibrous foods into the garbage disposal such as chicken bones and celery pieces.

3. Some people will dump harmful products such as hot wax, paint thinner, and motor oil down the sink drain. This will not only contribute to clogs, but it can damage the plumbing system. Never pour these items into your sink drain and use non corrosive drain cleaners.

Slow drains are extremely frustrating, but a clogged drain is even more annoying. If you have something in your drain causing a clog, overtime it will only get worse and cause a more serious problem. By properly maintaining your plumbing system, you can reduce the chances of getting a clogged drain. Annual inspections by a professional plumber will help your plumbing systems stay clear, clean, and working properly.

If you do get a clog, there are items you can use to clear the clog such as sink augers, plungers, plumbing snake, and non corrosive chemical drain cleaners. There are also bacteria-based enzyme cleaners that eat away at a clog without causing damage to the pipes. Remember, for clogs that cannot be removed even after you have tried everything, it is important to contact a plumber who will have the skills and tools to identify the cause of the clog and repair the problem.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 17 2010
The Indiana State Police are investigating a cash based scam that involves sending money via a commercial wire service. The scam appears to be targeting only elderly residents with one couple losing more than $3,000.

How does it work? An unknown person will telephone an elderly resident and tell them that a family member has been arrested and needs bond money to be released from jail. The suspects will identify the victim’s family member, usually a son or daughter or grandchild, and then identify themselves as a ranking representative of a certain police agency.

Then the victim is told a lengthy set of unusual circumstances surrounding the arrest, often portraying the arrested family member as an unfortunate participant that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The trap is now set and unsuspecting elderly family members begin the process of feeling sorry for their relative and engage in the conversation of how to wire the money to the police representative.

When the elderly victim conducts the initial wire transaction, a routing number is provided only to the victim. After the money is "wired" the victim is told to call the "police agency" back at a provided number. An unknown person will answer with the name of the police agency and when the victim requests to talk with the ranking officer they believe they had talked with previously, the person will "page" the requested officer. When that person answers, a conversation occurs where the victim is told to change the routing of the cash to a different city in the US. The routing number is then requested by the suspect and usually provided by the unsuspecting victim. Once the routing number is given, the cash can be obtained from any location in the world.

ISP reminds Hoosiers to use extra caution when dealing with unknown individuals by telephone or internet.

Posted by: Rolando Trentrini AT 09:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 15 2010

I have some good news to report based on August pended (accepted purchase agreements) results.  August pended transactions increased for the fourth consecutive month.  As I have mentioned a couple of times over the past few months, the now expired tax credit makes month to month comparisons difficult.  The tax credit clearly stimulated, then depressed the housing market.  As expected May pended transactions dropped dramatically after the spectacular March and April numbers.  This coincided with the expiration of the tax credit on April 30th

We have gone from 269 pended transactions in May to 387 pended transactions in August.  This represents a 44% increase.  Although that is good news, it is important to keep in mind that the 44% increase is from a low starting point.  What is good however is that the 387 pended transactions is slightly higher that the preceding twelve month average of closed transactions.  The average sales price in this May-August period has been virtually unchanged.  Both of these pieces of information suggest that our market has stabilized, both in terms of price and units sold.

I do not anticipate continued growth at these levels over the next few months.  Until the unemployment rate drops and our economy begins growing at a faster rate there will not be additional significant improvement in the housing market. 

We did add another enhancement to last month.  In the detail section of every listing there is a “Community Info” section.  In this area you can click on “What’s nearby”, “Nearby Schools”, “Nearby Sold Listings” or “Community Stats” to get detailed location specific information about every listed home.  If you are not at your computer you can always get property information on your smart phone at

Hopefully you had a chance to enjoy the fabulous weather over the Labor Day Weekend.  I’ll be back in touch next month with more current local housing information.

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 03:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 14 2010

An estate plan will help ensure your home becomes a legacy for your children—not a source of friction or a financial burden.

The time to solve estate planning problems is before they happen. Otherwise, what you think is a loving act—leaving your home to your heirs—can turn into a financial and familial disaster.

Estate planning is complicated, and you’ll need help from qualified pros, but here are four reasons why you should start thinking about an estate plan now.


1. A good estate plan can keep your heirs from fighting

Say you intend to leave your house jointly to a son and daughter. But what if, as often happens, one child wants to live in the house and the other wants to sell it? A reasonable estate plan would not force one child to indefinitely forgo his or her share of the value of the house.

Possible solutions:

  • If you have other assets, it may make more sense to divide your estate, leaving the house to the child who wants it, and property of equivalent value to the other.
  • If the house makes up the bulk of the estate, an insurance professional can talk to you about a policy that would provide enough money for one sibling to buy out the other’s share.
  • In either event, talk with your heirs up front so you can structure your estate plan to head off potential problems.

2. A good estate plan means no financial surprises

Consider these two scenarios:

  • You’ve sold the family home and bought a retirement condo, with a mortgage. Your heirs will eventually inherit both the condo and the loan as part of the estate. But they can’t assume the mortgage unless they’re planning to live in the condo. They’ll have to pay it off. That can be a nasty shock, explains A. Raymond Benton, a certified financial planner in Denver.
  • It’s very possible that in later years you’ll want a reverse mortgage to help pay for nursing care, for example, while you stay in your home. Upon inheriting the house, your heirs will have to come up with the money for the outstanding loan. Otherwise they’ll likely have to sell the house to pay back the lender. The bank will not allow your heirs to just assume a reverse mortgage.

Explain your situation to your heirs in advance as part of your estate plan, so they can be financially and emotionally prepared to accept an encumbered house as part of the estate.

3. A good estate plan means less of an estate tax hit

When it comes to estate planning, the biggest issue to consider is taxation. It’s a particularly thorny problem right now because the federal estate tax is in flux. If you die in 2010, there’s no estate tax, but it will almost certainly come back in 2011.

While that sounds like a good thing for 2010, there’s a catch: There’s only a limited “step up” for home value in 2010, according to Robert Demmett and Gerald Marsden, CPAs at Eisner & Lubin LLP in New York. When there is no step-up, your heirs could end up paying capital gains taxes on the difference between what you bought the house for 30 or more years ago and what they get for it when they sell. With a full step up, they would only have to pay tax on the difference between what the house was worth at your death and the sale price.

There are strategies for dealing with this, now and in the future. An estate planning attorney can set up a trust to help manage step-up issues.

4. A good estate plan can keep you from losing your house if you get sick

Of course, you may be thinking, “This is all academic. I’ll have to sell my home to pay for eldercare.” However, with a combination of long-term-care policies and trust-based solutions, you may be able to take care of yourself and leave your home to your heirs. Consult a lawyer experienced with estate planning or a qualified financial planner.

Richard J. Koreto is HouseLogic’s managing editor of finance, taxes, and insurance. He has been editor of several professional financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y.

Read more:
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 13 2010

Congratulations to Holiday World for their great achievement.


Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in southern Indiana has won six Golden Ticket Awards by Amusement Today magazine. In addition, late owner Will Koch is the second inductee into the magazine's Legends Series. Golden Tickets were presented to the Wildebeest water coaster for Best New Ride in a Water Park and Best Overall Water Park Ride, and the Voyage roller coaster as the top-ranked Wooden Coaster on the Planet for the fourth consecutive year. Holiday World also collected top awards for Cleanest Park and Friendliest Park.

The new Wildebeest water coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari was named the Best New Ride in a Water Park and Best Overall Water Park Ride at Saturday evening’s Golden Ticket Awards, presented during an Academy Awards-style ceremony at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

In addition, Holiday World's Voyage roller coaster was named the #1 Wooden Coaster on the Planet for the fourth year in a row.

Presented by Amusement Today publisher Gary Slade, the industry’s “best of the best” awards include theme, amusement and water parks from around the world. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari won a record six Golden Ticket Awards at this year’s ceremony.

For the eleventh consecutive year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari were named the #1 Cleanest Park, outranking such parks as Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Cedar Point. The parks also received #1 Friendliest Park award for the twelfth year.

“For these awards, we humbly thank our wonderful Hosts and Hostesses,” says park matriarch Pat Koch, who attended the ceremony with daughter-in-law Lori and grandson William. “It was a long, hot summer and they all worked together to keep smiling and keep cleaning.”

In an emotional tribute, the late Will Koch was honored as only the second inductee in Amusement Today’s Legends Series for being “a true visionary, leader and dear friend to the industry.” The park’s leader for more than two decades, Koch passed away unexpectedly in June at the age of 48.

Amusement Today is an international monthly trade journal for the amusement and water park industries, based in Arlington, Texas. The Golden Ticket Awards are determined by surveys submitted by well-traveled park enthusiasts from around the world.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari will be open September 18 and then closed to the public September 19 for a private outing. From September 25 through October 10, Holiday World will be open weekends-only before closing for the season.

Source: Holiday World & Splashin Safari & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 12:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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