Monthly Archive for July, 2009Page 2 of 2

Renter’s Paradise… If You Can Afford It!

real estate foreclosureSanctuary. Adobe. Spacious. Luxurious. Vacant??  Times have changed when it comes to the words landlords used to describe the once highly competitive apartment and other rental spaces market.  Apartments with 5, 10, 15+ applicants the second it is advertised has dwindled down do a couple, if that, and landlords are finding themselves desperate to fill vacancies.

If you are a renter, like myself, and able to afford city life then this is the prime-time to enter into a lease in an apartment at a lower rental cost.  I have seen some of my friends move out of their beautiful high-rent apartments in attempts to save money by moving home, getting roommates or moving to a cheaper location.

Perhaps “Renters Paradise” was a little much for my blog title, but the number of vacant apartments out there is almost at unprecedented levels.  Unfortunately, so too are the factors that tether this fact back to reality: unemployment and economic uncertainty.

According to a recent study, U.S. apartment vacancies are nearing a record low.  Currently at 7.5% and projected to increase, the rising figure reflects the difficult economic times.

Not surprising, the struggling real estate and rental industries are accompanied by an increase in legal problems and litigation.  A study conducted by LegalMatch, looking nationwide at the past 12 months saw a rise in legal inquiries across the board in the Real Estate category.  Landlord tenant issues are on the rise as landlords are feeling the pinch and tenants are demanding more concessions and lower rents. I agree with a recent Yahoo News article that attributed much of the rental issues to the employment problems that have befallen the 18-24 year old category.

Obviously, the effects increased vacancies are having will not be isolated.  An interesting prediction regarding falling home prices relationship to the rental market was articulated in a recent Wall Street Journal article.  The author felt that falling home prices could hit landlords in two ways: “they could force landlords to lower rents to keep up, and could spur some renters to purchase homes. Still, the number of renters who move out to purchase homes isn’t expected to surpass levels seen during the housing boom earlier this decade.”

Whether a renter or buyer these are really interesting times to explore your financial options and research the best financial approach to housing for you!  Don’t be afraid to negotiate your rent, demand concessions at your current location, or look into buying.

Peace When You’re Dead? Pipe Dream, Just a Pipe Dream…

The hallmark of any good relationship is communication.  Home is where the heart is.  Of all the things in the world that can go wrong, the one thing that you should always be able to rely on is your family.  You can always trust the ones you love.

All great sentiments, truly, they really are.  They’re clichéd, but nice nonetheless.  Sucks though that they don’t always hold up to the reality of life.  Even though none of this applies to me, as my family and life as a blogger are both perfect.  There’s a reason why half of all marriages end in divorce and why every time most people hear of the prospect of having to endure another annual family reunion at Bennigan’s causes them to hightail it to the corner store to pick up a case of Jack.

will dispute catDon’t get me wrong, I’m sure everyone loves their family, in theory.  But there are just so many things that can cause a person to want to break off all ties with them.  Forgetting to pick up groceries, annoying grooming habits, obnoxious personalities, not shutting your bedroom door at night after coming in when you’ve specifically told them that the noise from the outside will keep you up and you have to get up early the next day…

Anyway, not all disputes end with a broken home, most are trivial matters that are usually resolved with a simple conversation or, at most, a jagged bread knife.  However, if I were a betting man (which according to the judge, I’m no longer allowed to be) I’d put my lifesavings on money being the main culprit in tearing families apart.  And in no situation is this truism more apparent then when it comes to wills.

Recent statistics from LegalMatch show approximately a third of all disputes involving wills come from clients asserting claims that they should’ve been a recipient in a person’s will.  Half of the cases involve heirs attempting to protect their interests against another party trying to take their interests away.  The values in these cases vary widely from a few thousand dollars to sometimes a few million dollars.

But what makes these cases difficult to resolve is that in nearly 40 percent of them no formal will was ever written, leaving the family to squabble over their loved one’s estate amongst themselves.  However, even though written wills exist in the majority of these disputes, the same issues still arise.

Sounds pretty grim, huh?  What’s a person to do, especially if you are the one who’s will such a future conflict may be concerning?  The most obvious solution is to try and talk everything out among the people involved.  Whether it’s your will or not, it’s always good to clear things up between those you love.  Because chances are unless your last name is Cleaver, your family probably isn’t perfect and there’s a lot of things that fester because they go unsaid – usually resulting in a beautifully tragic emotional explosion.

The other thing you can do is hire a good estate lawyer to write a tight and clear will.  Though it’s true in this day and age it seems like anyone can sue for anything regardless of how frivolous, a clean unambiguously written document still holds a lot of sway with the courts.  This means a well-written will not only ensures that the person leaving behind his estate gets the security of knowing his last wishes will be carried out to his liking, but that there would be less chance for those looking to modify those wishes to be successful at it.

Either that or you can just do what you want with your money now and leave those money-grubbing descendents weeping.

Estate Planning – Not the Morbid Process It Once Was!

last will and testamentPreparing and contemplating ones own death is not a welcome thought or process.  However, what was previously a practice that simply involved drafting a will has morphed into a much more complicated process that not only plans for death but also for life.

Estate planning today rarely involves the composition of just a will but also creates trusts, guardians, powers of attorney, gifts, funeral arrangements, organ donations, and other estate planning techniques. Modern-day estate planning is not the dreaded process that it has been branded over the years mainly because it is no longer just about bequeathing property and assets to loved ones and can carry many benefits that an individual can enjoy while sill alive.

A recent LegalMatch study revealed a range of questions regarding estate planning, and how the high level of overall inquiries in this intricate legal field seems to be on the rise.  Part of this rise in interest can be attributed to the range of fields that estate planning incorporates- general estate planning, tax law, family law, complicated health care directives, and many others depending on individual circumstances.

I agree with a recent article published that catalogued some of the major trends in estate planning:

1.) Fewer estates will be taxable

2.) Careful planning to avoid probate court during incapacity is on the rise.

3.) There is an increasing concern over the wrong people gaining control over an individual’s assets.

4.) The arrangements or terms controlling the distribution of an inheritance are becoming increasingly detailed

5.) The amount gifted to charity is increasing steadily

6.) Having long-term health insurance is becoming more common

7.) Using a specialist in the estate planning process is on the rise

As the trends reveal, people are becoming increasingly aware of the need to plan for any and all possible future events. There are a tremendous amount of benefits from consulting an estate planning lawyer to planning for an individual’s specific needs and also to take advantage of the tax benefits associated with the creation of trusts and other planning tools.

The Real Cost of Owning a Car

knightrider460Besides the pimply skin, awkward fitting clothes, and the occasional loud nonsensical mood swing, being a teenager is great.  It’s a carefree time where you feel invincible and the world is full of wonder.  The rare few years where the biggest worry in your life is what you’re going wear to the house party this weekend and whether or not one of the cooler seniors will be able to get their college-bound brother to buy everyone beer.  It’s a time of first kisses, long verbose soliloquies about love, and recognizing that the girl you like the most isn’t the popular cheerleader, but the tomboyish best friend living next door since you were kids.  Where the only music topping the charts are by Paula Cole and Pacey has yet to try and steal said tomboyish best friend from you…

Alright, I’m pretty sure I’m getting my realities confused here.  Amazingly melodratic teenage dramas aside, I think the only thing most of us remember about being a teenager, other than the bad skin, was that we didn’t have to shell out all our cash to pay off a giant pile of bills everyday.  Not me, of course, I worked and therefore lacked a proper childhood unlike all you middle to upper-class kids, you spoiled bunch of…umm… Anyway, my horrible traumas aside, from what everyone tells me, the best part of being a teenager was having a car.  A car meant freedom from your parents and the chance to go wherever you wanted to, and best of all the only costs you ever bore to keep it was the occasional tank of gas and washing it when it got dirty.

And then you got older.

Cars are expensive to keep.  With insurance, gas, and maintenance alone, the average cost of owning a car in America can cost you anywhere between $6,000 to over $10,000 a year.  Not to mention the price of the car itself.  Ha!  Who’s laughing now?  Suddenly a deprived childhood where you have to face the harsh realities of life when you’re 10 doesn’t seem so bad now, huh??  I’ve been prepared, yo.

But by far the worst and most expensive thing about owning a car is the inevitable accident.  The price to resolve one can be astronomical once you figure in not only the damage to the car, but the time you’ll waste negotiating with your insurance company, loss hours at work, and medical bills – not to mention the emotional toll.

The latest statistics from LegalMatch show that the avere medical costs associated with an automobile accident is well-over $100,000 and in some cases can even be in the millions depending on the severity of the injuries.  The average for lost wages is over $40,000, but a really bad accident can sometimes mean losing your ability to work.

So what does this all mean?  Well, I suppose it means that if you don’t happen to be fortunate enough to be born into the top ten percent of our society, one serious car accident can easily wipe you out.  Here are some tips on what to do if ever get into an accident.  And if those aren’t enough to calm your fraying nerves, don’t worry.  That’s why our society invented lawyers.  By far, the best way to resolve a car accident is with the assistance of an experience personal injury lawyer, get one who specializes in car accidents and you should be even better off.  Because remember, even though you probably can’t have mommy or daddy fix your mistakes anymore, you can always get a surrogate parent in the form of an attorney who you can cry your little eyes out to.

Huh?  What?  No, no, I’m not bitter at all.  Why do you ask?