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They’re the experts, the trusted ones who have typically spent a good deal of time and energy in their chosen area of specialty, learning and absorbing as much knowledge as they can — and they advise others who request their input. Often, these highly regarded people not only have a great interest in what they do, but they can get pretty excited about it.
They may provide a service or sell a product, and you can find them particularly helpful when you need insight. Perhaps you’re a business owner planning for the future, or you realize you may have a tax issue. Is it a good time to sell or buy a house? Maybe you have a question related to your home’s safety and comfort. Even purchasing a gift deserves expert input, if you’re buying a custom creation someone will keep for a lifetime.
Be sure to contact these advisers when you need their assistance.
Q: My spouse and I are divorcing. What can I expect in terms of financial support?
A. Although there are formulas, spousal support in Michigan is based more on one spouse’s need and the other’s ability to pay. Age, health, education, and current income or earning ability are considered, along with lifestyle, length of the marriage, and the relative size of the estate. When there is a sizeable property settlement — equity from a home, business, other real estate, investments, etc. — spousal support may not be necessary. For child support, Michigan guidelines are typically strictly followed.
The first spouse to file for divorce can protect assets by requesting a Preservation of Assets Order that prevents either party from buying, selling, or transferring assets until an agreement is reached. Additionally, a Status Quo Order can be entered to assure that bills are paid in the interim.
Most divorce and custody cases are resolved through mediation, giving you more control over the final outcome. A neutral third-party attorney will assist in reaching a resolution. While mediation is usually reserved until near the end of the divorce process, we prefer mediating early on, sometimes holding several sessions instead of just one. This way, the process won’t be as exhausting for our clients and better, more focused decisions can be made.
Q: What are some ways a Realtor can help a buyer or seller assess the local real estate market?
A. Studying current price trends and comparing them with the past helps evaluate where the market is going. A real estate agent who’s knowledgeable about the local market will be able to provide you with more up-to-date numbers and evaluations. The agent will take into account factors that influence price fluctuations, including assessing sales, purchases, and the availability of properties in the area, while also comparing surrounding areas. Watching recent sales, purchases, and days on the market helps determine if it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market.
If you’re trying to assess the market, it’s important to get your information from a trusted source. To learn more about the market and whether now is a good time to buy or sell a home, contact Cindy Kahn for expert insight into local real estate trends.
Q: Is it too late to have some custom jewelry designed as a holiday gift?
A. While it’s never too early, now is a great time if you’re planning on giving any unique jewelry gifts. Custom work is something Kramar Jewelry is known for and, while many jewelers require four to six weeks to produce custom pieces, Kramar typically need just two to three weeks. All of our design and manufacturing is done in-house. Bring in your ideas or a picture and we’ll keep you updated throughout the process. We offer wholesale pricing and interest-free layaway.
While you’re at it, perhaps you have some broken or old jewelry that you’d like to have remade as a nice gift for yourself. If that’s the case, we can help you with that, too.
Q: I need to think about succession planning for my business. How can I make certain it will successfully continue once I’m no longer part of the daily operations?
A. There are several things to consider in succession planning for a currently successful business. Everyone’s situation is unique, so a plan that meets your business and personal goals will depend on the specifics of your professional and personal life. For one, do you intend to transfer the ownership to a family member, or would you prefer to sell your share to the remaining owners or an outside party?
If you intend to sell to an outside party, you need to create or find a market. You would also need to provide mutually agreeable terms of sale, while assuring employees and creditors of business continuity. Keeping your key employees informed of your intentions, and 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.
A written and properly funded business succession and contingency plan can help make the transition of your business a smooth one. It’s important that you consult with the right team of business professionals so you can be confident all your questions have been answered.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wis. (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries. Drew Besonson is a Representative of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company®, (NMWMC) Milwaukee, Wis. (fiduciary and fee-based financial planning services), a subsidiary of NM and federal savings bank. Representative is an Insurance Agent of NM, and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wis. (long-term care insurance), a subsidiary of NM.
Q: How has technology changed the jewelry design process?
A. An innovative, custom design system is bringing 3-D technology to the ancient art of jewelry-making, and it’s becoming the hottest trend in custom jewelry.
Using a new type of software, we can design a totally unique piece while you watch. This process provides the ultimate in creative control, and we can customize every design detail, from stone size and shape to color, and create a truly one-of-a-kind piece. Best of all, we can quickly show you exactly what your piece will look like before we build it. Stop in for a free, no-obligation demonstration.
Q: What should I look for when choosing a company to replace my furnace and air conditioner?
A. Realizing that you should upgrade your heating and cooling system can be an overwhelming event. Most people will only experience this need 1.5 times in their life, so it’s essential to do your research before making that call.
The first recommendation is to look for a company with a good reputation. Heating and cooling installation is a skilled trade, and it involves gas, electrical, and venting. These are all things that could present extreme safety issues when installation is done incorrectly, so you want to choose an experienced contractor. Things to look for are certified training, as well as proper licensing and insurance. Finally, make sure the company is pulling permits. Permits are required by law and will protect you, the homeowner, in making sure the installation is done correctly and won’t present a safety hazard. Some contractors won’t mention permits (or their costs) until the day of installation, so be certain that permits are included in your price.
The second most important factor is installation time. A good contractor will be able to install your system within one day. You don’t want to be without heating or cooling during the hottest or coldest days of the year.
Q: What should I do if I have IRS or state tax problems?
A. You never want to face the IRS or the State of Michigan alone. Both the IRS and the state have options that will allow you to resolve your back-tax debt. Settling for pennies on the dollar or establishing an installment agreement are only a couple of those options.
From doctors to lawyers, real estate agents, and Motown legends, the Levy firm has resolved millions and millions of dollars in tax liabilities over the past 20 years for individuals and businesses located in Michigan. With an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, the Levy Firm is dedicated to customer service and is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Each case is different. If you have IRS or state tax problems, call us for a free consultation. The Levy team consists of former IRS revenue officers, attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents who will resolve your tax problems and allow you to sleep better at night. You want a Levy on your side, not one against you. Don’t fear a levy — hire a LEVY.