Hogwash Volume 3


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April 2012 

 

 

Welcome to Hogwash!

 

Greetings! 

We’re glad you’re enjoying the newsletter!  This
month we’ve got some articles on points of law that could have a
direct effect on you.

We’d love to tackle issues that interest you so please make
suggestions for future issues.  This month we’re talking about
legal myths, landlord foreclosures and ways to plan for your pet’s
future. In future issues we will continue to discuss more of the
legal issues that affect the lives of those of us
who live, work and play in Northern Michigan.

Remember to send your lawyer jokes or suggestions for the newsletter
to info@rosigardner.com.

Legal
Myths: Don’t Be Fooled by These in Any Month of the Year 13

    

Fooling and foolishness doesn’t just abound on April 1
each year.   Long held legal myths can trip up the
unsuspecting at anytime.   Here are a couple of the most
commonly held legal myths that have no basis in fact.

 

I Have Three Days to Cancel a Contract

One of the myths we hear most frequently – usually
from a client who finds him or herself experiencing buyer’s remorse –
is the belief that they had three days to cancel any contract they
signed.

  

The reality: No such right exists unless the contract
involves financing against your home.  There is no right to
cancel a contract in three days; in general, when you sign a contract
you’re bound to it.  The exception, which is probably where this
myth started, is when the contract involves a security interest
against your home. That would include mortgages and home upgrades –
like replacement windows – that are paid for by a lien against your
home.

 

Part of a federal law, the Real Estate Settlement
Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. Sec 2602 (1) (A) may apply in some
situations and give you a right to cancel certain transactions that
involve a lien against your home.   But this act doesn’t
necessarily apply to all real estate deals, so be sure before you
sign.

 

As for other types of contracts such as fitness club
memberships, automobile purchases, etc. there is no three day cancellation window unless specified in
the contract. So before you sign for anything, think hard about
whether you really want and can afford the purchase.   Once
you’ve signed, you’re bound by the terms of the contract.

 

If We Live Together Long Enough We’re the Same as
Married

Living together doesn’t make you married.  Only a
minister, judge, magistrate, licensed ship captain or mayor can perform
a ceremony that makes a marriage official and then only after you’ve
obtained a marriage license and met any other qualifications required
by the state.

 

Still the myth of common law marriage continues – the
idea that a couple that lives together for 10 years or more are
married “at common law.”    

 

The reality: the Michigan legislature abolished the
concept of common law marriage in 1956, effective on January 1,
1957.   Before that if a couple “held themselves out” as married for that length of
time they could be treated as a married couple even though they’d
never obtained a license or had a marriage ceremony.

 

What does that mean for couples who
live together without getting married?  If your partner is
injured or dies you may not be entitled to the benefits a spouse
would be such as property inheritance or claims payments arising out
of accidents such as loss of consortium.  And if you and your
partner’s family are not on good terms, you may be excluded from
their sickroom during a final illness and may not have the
opportunity to have input into their treatment choices.

 

“I’m going to sue you for harassment”

You may have heard this from a neighbor or a
co-worker.  Usually this is a meaningless statement.
Comments like “She keeps saying mean things about me on
Facebook” and “Every time my dog barks, my neighbor calls
me to tell me to shut him up” are statements you probably don’t
want to take to court.

 

In Michigan, there is no cause of action for
“harassment.” There are classes of protected status under
federal law, and a claim for sexual harassment, or harassment on the
basis of race, gender or age, are serious matters. But a neighbor can
be “annoying” without violating Michigan law. Someone might
even be downright troublesome, and bother you, but being bothersome
does not violate Michigan’s civil law.  

 

You probably should not threaten to sue any one for
“harassment,” and if someone aims such a threat at you, you
probably should not be concerned.

 

 

Landlordhouse-fence
Foreclosure

 

During the current economic downturn many home buyers have put off purchasing and instead
opted to lease a home. To do this usually requires a substantial
security deposit. But what happens if the home’s owner is or becomes
delinquent on his or her mortgage? The tenant, who is often the last
to know, often learns that the property has been foreclosed when he
or she receives an eviction notice from the bank or the new owner.

 

Question: Does the tenant have any rights against the
bank?

 

Answer: Generally, a tenant has few if any
rights, particularly if the mortgage predates the lease, as is the
usual case. (A few States have enacted limited protection laws for
tenants, e.g., New Hampshire, New Jersey, Massachusetts and the
District of Columbia.)   Banks, for the most part, aren’t
in the business of renting to consumers. Although a bank could, in
theory, act as a landlord and hire a realty management company to
collect rents, while awaiting an upturn in the economy, in reality
it’s much more likely that the bank want to close the books on the
matter and get their cash out of the property, even if it means
taking a loss.

 

A tenant faced with possible eviction should seek to
meet with both the bank and the new owner to make the transition as
painless as possible. In some situations there may be specific
mitigating circumstances that could weigh in the tenant’s favor in
any negotiations, which is why a consultation with legal counsel may
be time and money well spent before meeting
with the bank and/or the new owner.

 

 

Question: Is a tenant completely helpless?

 

Answer: No. Implied in almost every lease, even
if it’s not stated, is a covenant that as long as the tenant
regularly pays the agreed upon rent, pays it on time and otherwise
does not violate that terms of the lease, the landlord is to provide
the tenant with the “Quiet Enjoyment” of the property.

 

When property is foreclosed upon and a tenant is
evicted, that tenant may have a claim that the landlord violated that
covenant and breached the lease.   The tenant could then
pursue the landlord for economic damages, which might the cost of
seeking and finding a new home to rent, the increase in rent above
what was to be paid for the balance of the term of the foreclosed
lease, and other reasonable costs of relocating. To recover those
costs though may require a lawsuit and a foreclosed landlord may not
be able to compensate the tenant even if the judgment is in favor of
the tenant. So, is a lawsuit in this situation practical? That would
require a careful legal analysis of the individual situation.

 

Bottom Line: if you choose to lease a home rather
than buy one, there’s no way to be completely protected from the
effects of an unforeseen foreclosure of the landlord’s property.

Planning for Your Pet’s
Future  white-dog-polaroid

 

Does your dog or cat need a will?   No, pets
do not need a will, but perhaps they should be in yours . . .  

 

Many of us have pets who are
members of our families. (All of us at Rosi
& Gardner have dogs at our homes and when you visit our office
you’re likely to be greeted by Koda, our
Siberian Husky ambassador, who spends his after office hours time at
Gary’s house.) In the eyes of Michigan law, though, pets are
“personal property,” no different than a chest of drawers,
an heirloom necklace, or a vehicle.  

 

If you’re a pet lover, your pet is much more to you
than that. How can you be sure that your canine or feline family
member will be cared for if something untimely happens to you?  

 

There are a couple of options when you make caring for
your pet part of your estate planning. One is to leave a gift to
someone who agrees to care for your pet after your death. Through
your will or trust, you could leave a sum of money, for the benefit
of that pet, to cover veterinary expenses, food and other costs of caring
for your pet after your death.  

 

This caring person could be a relative or a
friend.   It doesn’t have to be your executor or successor
trustee. Of course, like any other responsibility you are
“leaving” to someone, you should discuss your plans with
that individual to make sure that they are willing and able to care
for your pet.   In that conversation, you should discuss
your wishes for your pet’s ongoing care.

 

Although you can’t be certain that your pet will
receive the same care and attention you would have provided, there
are provisions you can make to give those four legged members of your
family a future of certainty and stability. Plus, including your pets
in your estate planning relieves the responsibility from your
executor or others who might have to determine what to do with a pet
that no one steps forward to take.

 

 

Issue: 3 

 

 

 

 

In This Issue

Legal
Myths

Landlord
Foreclosure

Planning
for Your Pet’s Future

April
Fun and Foolishness

Lawyer
Jokes

Karen’s
At Home Cookin

 

 

 

April Fun and Foolishness  

 

Special Days in April

 

April Fools Day gets big billing as an April holiday but
there are lots of reasons to celebrate in April. Spring is here, the
grass is greening up and plants are waking from a winter’s sleep.
April also provides some of the best kite flying weather possible.
So take time to celebrate the world awakening to a new season with some
special holidays and recognition weeks.

 

Celebrate Volunteers and Volunteering: April 15-21.

Every year since 1974 there’s been a week set aside to
celebrate the important contributions of volunteers.  National
Volunteer Week provides an opportunity both to celebrate the volunteers
who make our communities better and to encourage others to volunteer in
their communities.  

 

Celebrate Jelly Beans: April 22. Plenty of jelly beans showed
up in Easter baskets earlier this April, but Sunday, April 22 is the
official day to enjoy this favorite candy.   Here are a few
of the places where special jelly bean celebrations will take
place: 

  • Lubbock
    Arts Festival, Lubbock, Texas where artist Kristen Cummings
    exhibits Jelly Bean Art.
  • At the
    Jelly Belly Visitor Centers in Fairfield, California and Pleasant
    Prairie, Wisconsin.
  • At the
    Greenville, South Carolina Children’s Museum exhibition of the
    Masterpieces of Jelly Belly Art, including a Jelly Belly
    reproduction of the Mona Lisa.

 

Celebrate Administrative Professionals: April 22-28

It is a time to celebrate the people who help make
all our lives easier and help make sure that business gets done when it
needs to be done.  Say a special thank you to the administrative
professionals you work with or you meet in the course of doing business
this week. And if you’re an administrative professional, thank you for
all you do.

 

Celebrate Trees: April 27.

Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April each
year, the final day of Arbor week.  In Michigan we celebrate trees
and their contribution to a healthy environment and healthy quality of
life.  Click on this 
link to learn about the Arbor Day celebrations in Michigan,
including one in nearby Frankfort.

 

Celebrate Honesty: April 30.

April 30 has been set aside as National Honesty Day
– complete with Honest Abe Awards. In addition to the awards, founders
encourage schools, religious organizations and the media to make honest
the subject of discussion on this day.

 

 

 

 

  Lawyer Jokes

 

You may need to hire a new lawyer if

 

1.  Your lawyer tells you that his last good case
was Miller Lite,

 

2.  When the prosecutors see him they high five one
another,

 

3.  He picks a jury using AEenie,
Meenie, Minie, Mo,@ or

 

4. The prison guard is shaving your head.

 

 

 

 Karen’s
yellow-pitcher-flowersAt Home Cookin

 

Sunny and above freezing – time to lighten up and eat
open air with friends and family! Welcome Spring!! Here’s some tips for
your next get together, using lots of yellow and green to celebrate the
new season. Spread your tables and counters with vases of fresh tulips
or daffodils everywhere, fill clear glass containers with white wine,
lemonade, green teas, lemon slices. Get out
the colorful and funky tablecloths . . . be creative and have fun.

 

EASY GREEN DIP:

2-3 Avocados

½ cup Thousand island dressing

1/4 cup chopped green olives

½ cup Goat cheese or cream cheese (optional)

 

Adjust measurements to your own taste – you can’t go
wrong with this one. Delicious for dipping anything, or as a sauce on
your hamburger. Also as a dip for chips, crackers or veggie sticks.

 

GRILLED ASPARAGUS (or any veggie):

Lightly sprinkle olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt on
veggies. Grill until slightly blackened. (Good with the dip).

 

BEER BISCUITS W/HERBS:

Take any recipe for biscuits (look on the baking soda
can), replace the liquid w/beer, add shredded sharp cheese, and fresh
chopped herbs (sage is great)

 

Whip (real) butter and honey together and top it with
fresh cut chives for the biscuits – put it in a clear container to show
the color.

 

GREAT GRILLING MARINADE FOR CHICKEN, SHRIMP OR FISH:

Lime juice

Dry white wine

Fresh Garlic

Salt & pepper

Marinate at least an hour, then
grill how you like. Just before removing from grill, drizzle balsamic
& olive oil. Plating: Sprinkle with fresh herbs & sea salt,
another spritz of fresh lemon or lime juice,
add feta or goat cheese & olives around the plate. More herbs to
make it even prettier!

 

If you’re lucky enough to find Magic Morel Mushrooms,
fry them up with butter and serve with your fish or chicken.

 

CHOCO COCO & FRUIT DESERT

shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Nutella

dried or fresh fruit

Great dessert to make with young children. Roll a dollop
of nutella in the coconut to form a ball,
stick anything in the middle – figs, almonds, a fresh
strawberry (anything you like), yellow raisins
(remember our
color theme!). Refrigerate before serving.

 

 

 

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