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Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2000 /24 Shevat, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Why sell a home you love? -- DEAR BRUCE: I am being relocated but may return to the area in a decade, or perhaps sooner. I owe $44,000 on my house, which was sold to me for $104,000. I can easily make the house payment when I retire. The house has everything that I want and I have friends here.

Should I sell the house, take the profit and invest it? Or should I think about renting it so I can return to it? -- L.F. (e-mail)

DEAR L.F.: Business logic would dictate that you sell the house, invest the monies, and then go back and look for another house years from now.

But the fact is, you say that the house has everything that you want and you will be returning in 10 years or less. While it is not the best financial decision, it seems to me that you might want to hang on to the home and the roots that it provides.

Lease the house and move back into it upon your return.

DEAR BRUCE: My wife and I bought a quarter-acre recreational lot on a small island. The entire island was developed 35 years ago and subdivided, and a charter was formed to have a governing body in the form of a homeowners association.

All the lots have electricity and supposedly have city water available to them from the off-island supply. But now the supplied water has fallen short and the homeowner's association refuses to spend communal money -- as is clearly required by their by-laws -- to solve the problem. These people killed the idea so that the land will stay mostly undeveloped and serene and so that they don't have to spend any money helping out other members.

What recourse do I have? -- G.J. Seattle

DEAR G.J.: It seems to me that your only recourse would be through the courts. People who are in the area frequently want to slam the door after they arrive. They are not going to willingly participate in a project that (a) costs them money and (b) increases the density of the population.

The homeowners association document clearly charges them with this responsibility. About the only way that I know of to handle this one is to have the court order that they make these improvements at communal expense. It can be reasonably argued that they are trying to preserve the island, but in addition, it raises the value of any property that has water (such as theirs), as contrasted with the value of property that does not (such as yours), which makes their actions self-serving.

DEAR BRUCE: My sister and brother-in-law are both in their 70s and have been divorced for 12 years but have been living together for the past seven years. They live in California and neither has a will or trust. I am my sister's only blood relative. My brother-in-law has three grown children from a previous marriage. Frankly, I don't want to deal with the mess in case they both pass away.

My sister has a home worth $250,000 and other investments. What legal problems might this situation cause? -- G.G. (e-mail)

DEAR G.G.: It looks like a snake pit to me.

Whether California would recognize their living together as common-law marriage is something that I am not prepared to say. But while your rights may be the easiest to determine, there are the rights of the grown children to consider. In short, it's going to be a mess.

If you can't find any other way to persuade them to make wills, explain that if they really wish to offend the people they love the most, die intestate and cause them grief. Quite possibly, if they die without wills, you will inherit your sister's assets and the children of her common-law husband will get his. In each case you will have to be appointed administrator of the respective estates and post bonds, which will make unnecessary work and incur unnecessary expenses.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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