Jewish World Review June 16, 2000 /13 Sivan, 5760
Utility company incursion
DEAR BRUCE: When I purchased my home, I knew there was a right-of-way for utilities toward the rear of the property. Recently I wanted to build a garage in back of my house. I came to find out that the utility company didn't follow the easement but rather went right in the middle of my property. What are my rights? -- R.T. Middleboro, Vt.
DEAR R.T.: If the utility company did not follow the easement, you have them where they don't want to be held. You have a couple of choices.
If you want to leave the utilities where they are, you can make a deal with them and have them pay an additional fee, which could be substantial, to use the property they appropriated.
The other option is that you could make them move their equipment back to where it was supposed to be. If the utilities, as they are presently situated, render a good portion of your property useless, the utility would have to pay a ton of money in order to keep the current arrangement (if it were my property).
DEAR BRUCE: I am a salesman. My employer has asked all of the sales staff (six of us) to become independent contractors. He says that this way we can deduct all of our expenses and we will come out ahead. Is this true? -- L.B. Little Rock, Ark.
DEAR L.B.: The advantage, my friend, is not to you but to the employer. If he makes you an independent contractor, you will have to pay at least 15 percent into Social Security instead of the approximately 7.5 percent you now pay. In addition, you will have no workers' compensation should you be injured on the job.
You will have to carry liability insurance. In short, the advantages are all for the employer and none are for the employee.
Further, many times it is improper for you to be considered an independent contractor. If he provides a workplace, requires you to work specific hours and provides materials for your use, then you are no longer a legitimate independent contractor but rather an employee. Almost any time this is offered, it is not to the employee's benefit.
DEAR BRUCE: I am a 37-year-old physician. I have a rather large mortgage, over $300,000, on my house. I have just inherited almost a million dollars, and my wife is insisting that we pay off the mortgage. She doesn't like being in debt.
I know you have said many times that this is not a smart thing to do at our age. Would you please try to persuade her that there's another course of action. Our current mortgage is at 6-7/8 percent. -- N.C., Des Moines, Iowa
DEAR N.C.: You are right on target. Paying off a 6-plus percent mortgage would be insanity. This is cheap money. Further, I assume that since you are able to have a house of this size and considering your profession, your income is substantial. Therefore the tax deduction associated with paying a mortgage certainly doesn't hurt you any, and it further reduces the cost of the money to around 4 percent.
I would invest that inheritance in equities. Yes, the market is in turmoil, but over the next 15 to 20 years it is my contention that the solid companies in this country will continue to make a profit. And so will
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).
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