Jewish World Review Sept. 6, 2000 / 5 Elul, 5760
Pools can soak you
DEAR BRUCE: We have lived in northern New Jersey for several years. My husband is a health nut and wants to install a swimming pool in our backyard, where there is ample room. The cost of the pool will exceed $40,000. He claims that besides the enjoyment of this backyard addition, it will add to the value of our home when we decide to sell it.
Several of my friends have told me that not only does it not add value to the home, but sometimes it can detract from the value. This is a very large amount of money. Can you tell me who is correct? If we are going to be getting our money back, I guess I could go along, but I would certainly hate to have spent this money and then have to move and lose money on the deal. -- C.T. Passaic, N.J.
DEAR C.T.: Your friends' observations frequently are the case. Not only is a pool not an asset, but there are a great many folks who don't want the responsibility of a pool, particularly in a northern climate. In southern areas, such as Florida and Arizona, almost every home has a pool, which can be used year-round. In your part of the world, at the very best, you can use a pool four or five months a year.
Many people would prefer not to have that responsibility. If you enjoy having the pool, you will get your money's worth, I would assume. But don't ever count on recovering that investment when the house goes on the market.
DEAR BRUCE: I know you like old cars. My dad passed away a few months ago, and one of the assets of his estate is a 1941 Cadillac convertible. It had been restored very nicely, although I'm not sure if it was professionally done. It's a great-looking car, but neither my brother or I have any interest in old cars. At least not this old. Can you tell us how we might be able to sell it and get the appropriate price? -- L.W., Akron, Ohio
DEAR L.W.: You might want to go and take a look at Hemmings Motor News. It is published in Bennington, Vt. This month's edition, August 2000, shows several 1941 Cadillacs for sale. They can range from $2,500 to as much as $65,000, depending upon the condition. Hemmings is the bible of the older used car business, and if there's any place that you can sell the car, that will be the place.
Another very good publication is Deals On Wheels, which is published in Sioux Falls, S.D. The difference is that in Deals On Wheels, all of the cars are shown with a picture. Either one will get you buyer prospects all over the nation.
DEAR BRUCE: My parents are along in years, both in their early 80s. While they are going downhill physically, they are mentally sharp as a tack. My brother and I were called over to the house the other day, and they told us what they were doing. They were putting all of their assets in either my brother's name and their name, or my name and their name. The house will be in my brother's name and my name. This way, they figure, when they die there will be no problems.
They are really scared about probate. I tried to reassure them that this is not such a big deal because their estate isn't very complicated, some securities, savings and the house. Can you suggest something to them that will assure them that they won't have this probate specter. I have heard you say many times that it's not a good idea to leave undivided interests to heirs, and I agree with your thoughts on that matter. What can we suggest to them? -- C.A., via e-mail
DEAR C.A.: Why not have a lawyer discuss this with your parents and set up a living trust? All of the assets are put inside the trust, and they have complete control over them as long as they are alive. When they pass away, the trust goes on to you two to be shared equally.
I would also stipulate that real property should be sold; that way there is no haggling over who gets the property and who doesn't get it.
That's the simplest way to do it. This does not, however, obviate the necessity for a will -- a simple reciprocal will, and then leaving the balance to you and your brother. If nothing else, this ought to make your parents feel better. At this time in their life, this is very
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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