Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator
Linda E Wasielewski

REAL ESTATE:  For Sale by Owner

I have a number of clients lately that are in the process of selling their own homes without using a real estate agent.  This is possible and doable; however, there are some issues to keep in mind.


First, this will not be all profit.  While you will save the sales commission, there are other costs associated with the sale of a home that you will pay whether you use an agent or not.  It is not simply a matter of placing a “For Sale” sign in the front yard and hoping for the best.


Transfer tax:  In Michigan, there is a real estate transfer tax that is imposed on the seller of the property.  It is based upon the amount that the property is sold for.  It is $.75 per five-hundred dollars value for the County portion of the tax and an additional $3.75 per five-hundred dollars value for the Michigan portion – total is $4.50 per five-hundred dollars value or $9.00 per thousand that must be paid at the time the property is transferred and the deed recorded.


Title Insurance:  This guarantees to the buyer that you own the property and that it has no title defects.  The title insurance company researches the title to assure that this is the case and then issues a policy of insurance based upon the selling price of the property. In the event that there is an issue with ownership or liens that were undiscovered by the title company, the insurance policy is there to assure that this will be paid for.


Document Preparation:  If you are for sale by owner, you will need the correct documents for your transaction.  You should have a professionally prepared Purchase Agreement that covers all of the bases.  The cost of legal counsel to prepare this for you is far less expensive than doing it yourself and making costly errors.


Closing:  It is unlikely that your attorney will be the one to actually prepare the closing statements, tax proration, etc.   This, in Michigan, is ordinarily done by the title company.  There will be a charge for this service.  The closing is often held at the title company office as it has the ability to cut all of the necessary checks for the transaction.


If you are selling on a Land Contract, it will be necessary to have some alternative documents prepared.  Again, it is wise to have these done by a professional.  You will want your rights as a seller protected in the event that the buyer does not make the required payments down the line.


If you are well prepared and have the right assistance, you may be able to sell by owner.  It is important that you consult the appropriate professionals to make sure that you are doing it right.

Linda E Wasielewski

How Often Should Your Estate Plan be Reviewed?

You have a completed estate plan.  Many people put it away and never think of it again.  They believe that they are all set – for life.  That’s really not true.

Life changes and so do our needs.  An estate plan completed when you have minor children is not the same one you will need when they are in their 30’s and you are in a retirement mode.  So, how often should you review your documents?

First, all reviews do not need to be conducted by an attorney.  These are your documents and you know what your needs are.  I recommend reviewing the documents every one to two years.  Pull out the documents and re-read them.  Are all of the facts contained in the documents correct?  Are the choices that you made still the ones that you want?  Are the individuals that you have named as agents still available?

If the documents are still accurate and what you want, fold them up and put them back.  You are all set.  If however, things have changed, it is time to make an appointment with your attorney to change the provisions that require updating.  This does not mean that you will need all new documents.  Often simple amendments are possible to change distribution provisions or agents.

As time goes on, it is wise to schedule a review of your documents at least every five years with your attorney.  Laws change which may affect your documents.  Additionally, your personal circumstances may have changed in a way that an amendment is required.

Other times, there will be triggering events that will lead to changes.

  • The death of a spouse
  • The death of a child
  • The marriage of a child and/or the birth of a grandchild
  • The death or disability of one of the agents that you have named
  • A large change in your finances such as an inheritance
  • The acquisition of multiple parcels of property


In any of these circumstances, it is wise to make an appointment with your attorney to address these issues and make certain that your documents are up to date.  Then you can once again, put the documents away and be certain that you are well prepared.

Linda E Wasielewski

Estate Planning: Different Issues for DINKs (Dual Income No Kids)

Not all families have the same estate planning considerations and concerns.  This is particularly true for Dual Income No Kids (DINKs) couples.

Couples or singles with children are equally concerned with stretching their money throughout their lifetimes and leaving a legacy to their children.  They often assume (or hope) that if they become disabled over time that family members will step in to assist.  This could mean hands on care or supervision of their care in a facility.

For DINKs, this is not the case.  While they may have close relationships with nieces, nephews and friends, their primary focus is not on leaving these beneficiaries a large inheritance.  If there is money or property left upon their demise, they have beneficiaries that they would prefer to leave the wealth to.  Since these individuals did not have the expense of raising children, and did not have their careers modified by child raising times, they will often have more assets than the married with children couples.

For these couples, the primary focus is upon their future and the possibility that at some point, one or both of them may require assistance and care.  Without children to guide that process, the selection of agents under Durable Power of Attorneys and Advocates under Health Care Power of Attorneys becomes of greater importance.

Selection of these agents is often difficult.  Naming siblings seems practical – they are persons that can be trusted.  It may also be somewhat unwise because an individual of the same age may predecease them, or be disabled as well.  It is less likely that younger family members would provide a “hands on” approach to caring for them during a health care crisis.

For these individuals, planning for long term care takes a higher priority.  They must economically provide a means to live either assisted or ultimately in a long term care setting.  This might be for the survivor, or for both of them if they survive into their 90’s.  The selection of health care advocates is a key.

Durable Power of Attorneys and Revocable Trusts must be carefully drafted to assure that the Agent or Successor Trustee focuses upon continuing the standard of living of this individual without any concern as to the preservation of the financial estate for the beneficiaries and heirs.

One size certainly never fits all – and that is especially true in the case of the Dual Income No Kids Couple.  Careful, special planning is needed to assure that their needs are addressed for disability and old age, as well as the disposition of the remaining wealth upon their passing.