Hogwash Volume 34

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February 2015
Welcome to Hogwash!

 

Rosi and Gardner

 

If this is the first edition of Hogwash! you’ve received it’s because someone you know thought that you would like to receive it and perhaps pass it on to a friend.   

 

If you enjoy this E-newsletter and know others who you think would like to be on our list or receive a copy by mail, please let us know at info@rosigardner.com   

 

The highest compliment we can receive is a referral from a friend.   Although we’ve been in business together for more than twelve years, have more than 50 years of combined legal experience experience, we are never too busy to help those you refer to us: your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Estate Planing – Transferring Property Between Family Members   


Historically as the value of real estate has risen the transfer of real property – especially the family home or cottage – from one generation to another has resulted in an increased tax burden upon the next generation. That’s been particularly true in Michigan where property transfers have “uncapped” the limits put on assessment increases as a result of the adoption of Proposal A.

 

Since December 31, 2013, Michigan homeowners have benefited from legislation that allows an exemption for certain transfers of property between family members to take place without automatically uncapping the property tax valuation and increasing the basis on which the home owner is taxed.  The law is applicable for the transfer of the property when the recipient of the transfer is related by “blood or affinity to the first degree” and when “the use of the residential real property doesn’t change.”

 

To determine whether this exemption may apply to your particular situation it’s important to consider two key elements of the law:

  • First, the transferee must be related to the transferor by blood or affinity to the first degree which means, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury, the transferee (recipient of the property) is a spouse, father or mother, father or mother of the spouse, son or daughter, including adopted children, and son or daughter of the spouse, and
  • Second, the property must be considered residential, including vacation second homes and may not be income property

Like so much that comes from the Legislature, the law is complex and reading it can cause your head to spin. That said, with proper planning, this exemption may provide a useful means by which to transfer residential property (including recreational lands) from one generation to the next without uncapping the property tax. Each case will differ and that requires a careful analysis of the law and the individual situation, yet it can be well worth the time and money spent to do an analysis of the law and its possible benefit. If you are considering a transfer of residential property to someone you think may qualify for the exemption, it’s important to contact both legal counsel as well as your tax adviser.

 

The Lady Bird Deed

 

An alternative estate planning idea to consider is a Lady Bird Deed, a type of transaction reportedly invented by or for Lady Bird Johnson, wife our 36th President. In the past many people sought to avoid Probate by simply putting a child’s name on the deed to the farm, or home place. Lawyers have usually recommended against doing so because of the risks inherent in the joint ownership of property, for example: subjecting it to potential future liabilities of another person.   A Lady Bird Deed seeks to avoid many of those problems. It transfers all of Grantor’s interest in the real property with the exception of an extremely broad Life Estate by which the Grantor retains the absolute right to unilaterally cancel the transaction and convey the property to someone else at any time during his or her lifetime.

 

It’s not clear whether a Lady Bird Deed would enjoy the uncapping exemption passed by the Michigan Legislature in 2013 if only because the recipient of the property would not have any present rights to possession. Those could be unilaterally withdrawn by the transferor of the property at any time.

 

If you have property that you plan to transfer to family members at some point we would be happy to consult with you about the estate planning options that are available. To schedule an appointment give us a call at 231- 941-5878. 

Issue: 34 
In This Issue

 

Humor   

Words can be filled with meaning, full of emotion and provide guidance for the ages.  Or, they may simply be filled with humor or meant only to spark controversy.  Often we attach special significance to a person’s pronouncements just prior to their demise.  Mark Twain reportedly said, “The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”  Here are a few of our favorite
 “Famous Last Words:”

 

“Don’t disarrange my circles!”

– Archimedes of Syracuse

 

“Do you have a last request?”  “Why yes — a bulletproof vest.”

– James W. Rodgers

(convicted of murder, as he is executed by a firing squad)


 

“And now, I am dying beyond my means.”

– Oscar Wilde

(sipping champagne on his deathbed)

 

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance!”

– General John Sedgwick

(moments before he was shot and killed at the Battle of the Spotsylvania Courthouse in 1864)

 

“When I die bury me deep with a six-pack of beer between my feet, a 5th of liquor and a bottle of rum.  I’ll raise hell to kingdom come.”

– Chris Barton

The Supreme Court & Milk: A Love Story 

 

 

To our astonishment, February 11 is widely (?) recognized as “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.”  The commemorative date is opportunity to be optimistic, think positive, look at the bright side, not stress over little things, and generally leave “spilled milk” in the past, much like old U.S. Supreme Court decisions… about milk.

 

Believe it or not, milk and the Supreme Court have quite the history.  Cases involving laws regulating the commerce of milk have, over the years, been litigated all the way to the highest court of the nation and yielded very important decisions.  For example:

 

United States v. Carolene Products Company (1938):  In the late 1930s, Congress passed the “Filled Milk Act,” a federal law that prohibited “filled” milk (any milk, cream, or skim milk that has been reconstituted with fats, usually vegetable oils) from being shipped in interstate commerce.  A milk company broke the law on purpose, and then argued that the law was unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court disagreed and held that the law was constitutional.  This case is best remembered for having the “most famous footnote in constitutional law,” in which Justice Stone suggested that there were reasons for giving federal laws a “tougher” review if the law was aimed at discrete “religious,” “national,” or “racial minorities.”  Decades later, that footnote would be used by the Supreme Court to support many of its civil rights decisions.

 

Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin (1951):  The city of Madison, Wisconsin passed a municipal ordinance requiring that all milk sold in Madison was to be pasteurized at approved plants located within 5 miles of the city.  Dean Milk, a milk producer based in nearby Illinois, sued the city, claiming that the ordinance was unfair to non-local milk producers.  The Supreme Court agreed with Dean Milk, and struck down the ordinance because it unconstitutionally discriminated against interstate commerce (which, generally speaking, is a bad thing to do).

 

Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery Co. (1981):  For environmental reasons, a Minnesota state law banned the sale of milk in plastic non-returnable, non-refillable containers, but permitted the sale of milk in non-plastic disposable containers, such as paperboard cartons.  The Minnesota Supreme Court decided that the law violated the due process, equal protection, and commerce clauses.  But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed and held that the law was perfectly fine, holding that the impact of the ban on interstate commerce was “not clearly excessive” given the substantial local interest in promoting conservation.

 

So, here’s the recap, to mull over while sipping on a glass of milk:  

 

(1) it is OK for the federal government to restrict interstate commerce of milk, but 

(2) it is not OK for a state to restrict the source of milk sold within that state, yet 

(3) it is OK for a state to restrict the types of packaging in which milk can be sold within that state.

 

If constitutional law makes you spill your drink, don’t fret.  February 11 is, after all, “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.”  

Bitcoin Update   

  

As of February 6, 2015, my 0.02 BTC was “worth” (tradeable for) $4.45.  That corresponds to a rate of 1 Bitcoin (BTC) to $222.89.  You might recall that when I bought the that fractional Bitcoin in December 2013, I paid about $17.30 for it.  I guess that enthusiasm for the virtual currency has waned a bit since then… 

 

Credibility for Bitcoin?

 

There has been much negative commentary about Bitcoin, largely centered on its anonymity and therefore its susceptibility to use for illicit transactions.  But, a recent event may give it just a bit more credibility.  On January 26, 2015, the company Coinbase established and launched the first major licensed Bitcoin exchange based in the United States.  Institutional investors and business, for instance, now have a “place” to point to, knowledge of where the exchange is “grounded.”  Buying and selling Bitcoin through such an exchange may lend it more credibility, stability, and perhaps even a “benchmark” for pricing and trading.  (Coinbase has been in operation for a little time at least; it is Coinbase’s electronic “wallet” which holds the Bitcoin I own, and through which I purchased it a little over a year ago.)

Adoption Records

 

Medical science continues to advance, setting new limits on what can be known about our bodies, the conditions that affect them, and even our genetic makeup.  But, unless and until we advance so far that we can dispatch and destroy all disease biomedically, an individual’s family history, her “genetic family tree” can provide us and our health care providers with important information.  Knowing that close biological relatives have had certain conditions can provide a physician with clues and probabilities, informing possible courses of treatment.

 

But what if you do not know your biological relatives?  If you are an adult adoptee, you may want to obtain records and information about your biological relatives.  But is that possible?

 

The answer is complicated.  Birth parents, and adoptees, can file letters with the “Central Adoption Registry,” stating whether they consent to contact and communication.  If no such letters exist, an adoptee or a birth parent can ask a court to appoint a “Confidential Intermediary” to search for and contact the other, and determine whether that other is willing to communicate and share information.  If the other side declines, the intermediary cannot disclose anything.  But, if the intermediary locates the person, and he or she is willing to share information, then the intermediary has made a connection and allowed both sides to learn much more information about their biological relatives.

 

If that information, including possible genetic predispositions and conditions, can be learned, then perhaps an adoptee can know much more about what has made her who she is, biologically.  That, in turn, may tell her and her health care providers more about which courses of treatment, and even courses of prevention and testing, that may be of the most benefit to her.
February Special Offer

Is adoption in the past or future for your family?

 

Contact us in February and schedule a FREE and confidential consultation to discuss your questions.

 

    941-5878 and mention “Hogwash!” 

Offer Expires 03/15/2015

Karen’s Home Cooking 

 

Well, the days are getting longer but we still don’t eat until dark. We just cooked our last walleye and now we’re getting deep into the home-canned and frozen foods. I’ve been experimenting with spices this month and trying to cook with bright colors to get me through to the spring. I’ve also been trying to incorporate turmeric and ginger because of the health benefits. I’m still working on getting the right balance. Have fun and enjoy!  

 

Indian Spice Kale/Pea Salad

 

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seed

tsp mustard seed

Hot peppers, finely chopped (I used 1 jalapeno and a sprinkle of hot red pepper flakes)

large piece fresh ginger root, grated (about 1 tbsp)

tsp turmeric

2 cups chopped fresh kale (you could probably use frozen spinach here)

cup peas (I used frozen)

juice of 1 lemon

tsp ground coriander

bunch of fresh cilantro

2 tbsp unsweetened coconut                                                                

 

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok, sizzle the cumin and mustard seeds for 1 min (they’ll start to pop), then add the chili, ginger and turmeric. Fry until aromatic, the add the greens, a pinch of salt, a splash of water and the peas. Cover the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until the greens have wilted. Add the lemon juice, ground coriander, half the fresh coriander and half the coconut, then toss everything together. Pile into a serving dish and scatter with the rest of the coconut and coriander. Serve on rice or ramen noodles.

 

Next Day: If you have leftovers, put on crackers w/cream cheese and horseradish mustard. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds

 

Avocado Corn Salad

 

1 cup frozen corn

2 avocados

Chopped green/red/yellow peppers

1 cup chopped lettuce (or cabbage)

Chopped cooked bacon (of course, optional)

juice of one lime

tsp ground coriander and cumin seeds, more or less

2 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

 

Mix it all together. Eat alone, or serve with your favorite fish in a taco or burrito shell.

 

 

Shrimp Hoagie

 

10 or so deveined, peeled, shrimp (Sprinkle with lemon juice and dill in let sit and drain in colander)

Manchego cheese – cut in thin slices

Salami (spicy is good) – cut in thin slices

Baguette, thickly sliced

1 Fennel bulb, sliced thin

Sweet onion, sliced thin

Orange zest, chopped lettuce or arugula

 

Heat oven to 400 F. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides of the bread with oil. Add the cheese and salami in strips across the bread. Bake until cheese melts.

Quickly fry the shrimp in olive oil. Lay shrimp whole (or chopped) on top of the baguette. Top with onion, fennel, orange zest and greens. Drizzle with olive oil and shredded manchego.

 

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Rosi & Gardner, P.C.
735  S. Garfield Avenue
Suite 202
Traverse City, Michigan 49686
231-941-5878
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Philip R. Rosi

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Gary Allen Gardner
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