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