Special Advertising Section // Trusted Advisors
Most of us are good at any number of pursuits, yet there are times when we all need to call in an expert. It may be in connection with a task that requires specialized skills, such as fixing that cranky air conditioner or resetting grandma’s old ring, or it may have to do with gaining specific knowledge, as in getting the best price when you buy or sell real estate, or planning for your financial future and that of your heirs. In other instances, it may be getting help with an activity that’s just not worth spending your time on; you may enjoy gardening, but replacing the tired landscaping around your home isn’t something you’d like to tackle on your own. That’s when you contact people who are experts at what they do — people you feel comfortable with, and whose advice you know is in your best interest. Those are truly your trusted advisers.
Q: How important is it to work with a trustworthy attorney who can handle litigation during probate?
A: If a family disagreement occurs over an estate, you must decide whether to trust an experienced probate attorney or your relatives. An adult child who spent the most time with a parent may believe he/she is entitled to more — but if that’s not in writing, everything will be divided equally.
However, under current law, if you can prove a different intent, you can win that case. There may be questions regarding soundness of mind, or wills changed shortly before death.
Jamie Ryan Ryke, of Thav, Ryke and Associates, just won a jury award in Lapeer County for a little under $500,000 when one sibling sued the entire estate for proceeds after the sale of her family’s motel. She believed that because she had managed the property, she should keep everything — which isn’t as uncommon as you think.
Q: How has technology changed the real estate buying and selling process?
A: Technology has made a stressful process much easier, allowing real estate professionals to readily provide data, give buyers property access, and offer their expertise. Social media, with its new gadgets and apps, has turned buying and selling into a completely different experience. Online listings make it more convenient for anyone to view inventory and get information about things such as taxes, schools, and property history; a huge percentage of people will see properties from their phones or tablets. Agents can walk a buyer through a home using Facetime, going room to room just as they would in person, and E-signing services allow agents to complete transactions quicker and stay organized.
There’s no doubt technology has improved efficiency and changed how agents respond to clients. There’s even a sense of excitement related to using modern devices. Even so, all that technology — although great to have — doesn’t replace working with an agent who knows the market, and is honest and professional.
Q: I’m nervous about buying an engagement ring; it’s such a big purchase. What if the person it’s intended for isn’t happy with it?
A: Jewelry selection is personal, so it can be difficult to buy for someone else. Your beloved may prefer yellow gold, not white. Or there may a “family tradition ring” of which you’re unaware. And not every engagement works out. Customers find it reassuring to know Kramar Jewelry is one of the few jewelers that offers a full refund or exchange on most jewelry purchases: 30 days on rings, two weeks on other jewelry. The exception is usually custom designs, which must be approved before they’re made. So go ahead, ask for their hand!
Q: Why should I hire a landscape architecture design/build company for my landscape project?
A: Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. In the landscape industry, there’s a broad range of service levels and it can be difficult and time-consuming for the average homeowner to interview and compare different design firms and contractors separately. A good design/build company (i.e., a company with architects, construction supervisors and crews, and maintenance crews on staff ) has all the expertise under one roof and can take your project from the design and permitting phases through construction, and then maintain your property investment in the long term.
Many projects involve multiple, complicated elements that have to be designed together — like fireplaces, water features, outdoor kitchens, pergolas, plantings, irrigation, drainage, and lighting systems. Dealing with one company that designs, installs, and maintains everything takes the coordination burden off you — simplifying the process and giving you peace of mind knowing one company takes responsibility for the entire package. And if the company has been in business since 1972, with a proven track record of success, that’s all the better!
Q: Is custom-made jewelry more expensive than jewelry ready for purchase?
A: Not always. The cost depends on the design, the metal, and the stones.
There are three ways to make custom jewelry:
1. Use new stones and new metal. Creating a custom piece this way is the most expensive option.
2. Use metal and stones from your existing jewelry. Old stones can be placed in new settings for a tremendous savings, or your gold can be melted into a new design.
3. Modify old jewelry. Updating an old piece is the most cost-effective means for creating new, modern jewelry. Stop in and see how the staff at Redford Jewelry & Coin can help turn your idea into custom jewelry you’ll wear and treasure.
Q: What are the benefits to me and my family of advance funeral planning?
A: There are many benefits to planning your funeral in advance. First, simply meeting with a funeral director to learn about different options helps you make informed decisions for yourself and your family. Second, advance funeral planning gives people comfort; your family won’t be burdened with the decision-making and cost. Third, there can be significant savings when a funeral is paid for in advance, at a guaranteed fixed rate.
Having a personal funeral plan and financial aspects handled ensures that loved ones know your wishes. It is truly a gift, as it can make an overwhelming experience much more manageable when a death occurs.
Q: How will I know when I should replace my furnace or air conditioner?
A: Most of the time homeowners ask this question when they’re faced with a pricey repair. Between the furnace and air conditioner, there are 40 to 55 parts, and a repair can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,500. If your system is no longer under warranty, you have to consider the equipment’s age when faced with “repair or replace.” The industry standard is typically 10-15 years on an A/C and 12-18 years on a furnace. Most customers follow the $5,000 rule of thumb: Take the cost of the repair — say $500 — and multiply it by the age of the component. If that number exceeds $5,000, replacing is usually the best option.
Your heating and A/C are the hardest-working appliances in your home. You may want to get a new system if just the A/C or furnace isn’t working. While the A/C produces cool air, your furnace blower distributes it. Technology has tremendously improved heating and cooling in the last five years, and variable-speed blower motors will help those “too warm/cold” areas of your house.
There are greater purchase savings when buying a new system instead of a component. Manufacturer’s incentives may kick in, and utility rebates go up. You can often save up to $2,000 versus $500-$600 off a component.
Q: How do I ensure my business will continue to thrive when I am no longer actively involved?
A: There are several things to consider when answering this question. Is it your intention to transfer ownership to a family member, or would you rather sell your business to the remaining owners or an outside party?
Each business, family, and person is unique. A plan that meets your business and personal goals depends on the specifics of your professional and personal life. A written and properly funded business succession and contingency plan can help make the transition of your business a smooth one. First, you need to create or find a market for your business. You would then need to provide mutually agreeable terms of sale while assuring your employees and creditors of business continuity. Keeping your key employees informed of your intentions while providing a financial stimulus to them, if the business is sold at or above market price, will greatly reduce the potential for discord and litigation.
It’s important that you have the right team of business professionals so you can be confident that all your questions have been answered and that they’re the right answers for your business, your family, and yourself.
Q: How can I be prepared for a successful real estate transaction?
A: Buying and selling a property in a competitive market requires you not only to be prepared, but to begin your process early! Assembling an experienced team of trusted partners will ensure that your transaction will be as seamless and stress-free as possible. Choosing the right lender and having a preapproval letter ready is key, and because home inspectors are extremely busy, getting a referral for a qualified inspector is very important.
If you’re buying or selling a property in a living trust, make sure you have the proper documentation and legal support, and understand the pros and cons. Start making arrangements for moving, storage, packing, and cleaning as soon as you can. When hiring an estate sale company, check references and be sure they’re bonded and insured.
Use technology as a resource for confirming showings and receiving feedback. Being proactive, setting expectations, and maintaining good communication with all parties is critical. The housing market is constantly changing, so whether you’re on the hunt for a home or if you’re selling one, you need to be aware of the latest trends so your transactions are successful.