Heroes Loan Program – For every day heroes.

Heroes Loan Program – For every day heroes.

Written by Steven Long at Northwest Bank

Heroes don’t always wear capes – they wear boots and fatigues or carry a badge.

They work tirelessly to serve others without asking for anything in return. That’s why, for their dedicated, selfless service, we want to give back.

Our Heroes Loan Program provides military members, veterans, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs the opportunity to own a home with fewer fees, little down and lower monthly payments. This loan offers great rates, affordable payments, and fewer upfront cost.

For more information, please contact Steven Long, Mortgage Loan Officer at Northwest Bank – 716-903-1819.

 

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Written by Nancy W Saia

Very often we see families struggling when their parents have not made even the simplest of estate planning moves or have made moves without the aid of sound legal advice. Some common mistakes are:

  • Making bank accounts joint with one child so he or she can have access to your money to pay bills;
  • Only creating a Power of Attorney at your bank;
  • Placing too much power in the hands of one child and not including others;
  • Keeping all assets in husband’s name because he handles the money;
  • Having the cars in husband’s name because he picked them out alone;
  • Failure to create a well thought-out Power of Attorney;
  • Failing to create a Health Care Proxy with sound legal advice;
  • Failure to create a Will;
  • Promising a piece of furniture to a child, but not making a specific mention of that promise in your Will;
  • Failing to create a Special Needs Trust for a disabled child;
  • Failure to name a Guardian for your minor children;
  • Failure to create a Trust in your Will for minor children;
  • Having your minor children the beneficiaries of your life insurance;
  • Failing to review your Will as your life and circumstances change;
  • Not keeping good records of all of your investments; and
  • Listening to your neighbors rather than contacting an experienced estate planning attorney.

Copyright 2018 Law Offices of Nancy W. Saia
You can find Nancy online at www.lawsaia.com

Dried Cats – Real Estate Oddities

Dried Cats – Real Estate Oddities

There are countless old wives tales and superstitions people believe even in this day and age. One of which that might strike you odd that can be found in the Buffalo area is dried cats in the walls!

“In some European cultures, the custom of placing a dried or desiccated cat inside the walls of a newly constructed home was a sign of good luck and to ward off evil spirits. Immigrants to Buffalo brought this tradition with them; this mummified cat was found in the wall of a 1935 home in the City. X-rays show the animal was intentionally prepared prior to being placed in the wall of the house.” – Buffalo Museum of Science.

In most cases the cats were likely already dead, arranged in manner such as mid attack; tail erect, posed with dried birds and mice. The idea was that this scarecrow like defense would ward off not only vermin but carry an energy around the house to protect from larger threats as well.

Cat’s are known to supposedly have a sixth sense, and people hoped to use this “psychic ability” to find and ward off unwanted spirits. Rooting from Roman folk practices that spread throughout Europe and parts of Australia, these mummified felines could be found in buildings along with shoes and witch bottles.  It is also widely believed that animals, cats in particular can sense ghosts and other supernatural elements. They were placed inside walls during new home construction, under rafters in the roots, under floor boards, and even behind chimney stacks in cases of warding off witchcraft.

On a lighter note, cat’s were also seen as a sign of good luck, prosperity, and encouraged fertility! In Ancient Egypt, cats were regularly depicted in religious practices. Several gods and deities were characterized by cat-like heads, representing justice, fertility, and power. Cats were also recognized for protecting Pharaohs as they were famous for killing venomous snakes.

While most people stick to buying burglar alarm systems to protect their homes, mummified pets may be a unique alternative for those looking to secure their home from physical and paranormal threats.

Millennial Home Must Haves

Millennial Home Must Haves

Millennials are currently the largest percent of home buyers, sitting at 37% of the buyer population. With such a large age bracket hitting the real estate market, they have a great influence on trends and demand. There are a few key aspects this demographic is searching for in a home.

Open floor plans
While millennials rank as the largest buyer segment, they are not so highly classified in household income. This being said, they want to make the most out of the space, particularly in entertainment spaces. Staging homes with bar stools and kitchen islands will likely appeal to these potential buyers

Updated kitchens and bathrooms
In most cases, younger millennials have been saving their funds for a hefty down payment and are not budgeting extra funds for renovations. Finding a house with updated move-in-ready features are high up on the “want” list!

Vintage and European designs
In the face of growing up in a technology driven digital age, millennials have a considerably aged design approach. Mid-century, Mediterranean, pre-WWII architecture have made a stylish comeback along with herringbone flooring and art deco inspired elements.

Technology
Regardless of the desire for old fashioned structure, millennials still want to hold onto the convenience of smart home technology. From smart thermostats to doorbells, having remote control is a key feature to incorporate. Energy efficiency is also a winning attribute wherever possible as this generation is growingly more environmentally conscious. 

Location preferences
Commuting time and cost are one of the most important considerations for millennials, whether the cost be in currency or environmental. Additionally, this age group is very interested in having a sense of community and belonging within the neighborhood. The younger subset of this population is opting to buy urban houses or condos with roommates to share expenses, whereas those on the older end are looking to move towards the suburbs

Pets
Pets have become increasingly more important to millennials as an alternative to starting a traditional family. Very frequently they are checking to make sure condos are pet-friendly and asking about weight or other restrictions. When it comes to single-family homes or townhouses they are looking to have a yard, ideally already fenced in, for their dog.

Baby Boomer Market Trends

The “Baby Boom” generation, born between 1946-1964, is undoubtedly one of the largest age groups of our nation and consequently greatly influenced our economy and culture. As marketers research this consumer segment, they must take maturing investments and spending habit changes into account. These are the 3 trends that we will see over the next 5 years.

Working Retirement
Previous generations have stopped working at retirement; this is not true of the baby boomers. Roughly 65% of Boomers plan on working past the age of 65. A study by Voya Financial noted that 60% of retirees were forced to end their careers earlier than planned, due to layoffs and health concerns, and then found that their savings were not as sustainable as expected and needed to find additional income. Taking this time to ensure ends meet results in less free time for leisurely activities and travel.

Changes in purchasing habits
With continuing to work comes the need for professional attire and reliable transportation. Along with that, more and more time and money is being spent online. Medical care, security, entertainment options, obtaining and maintaining pets and community activities are all varying factors taken into consideration. Medical care in general is a huge budget item as Boomer’s rely heavily on both traditional and innovative medical technology and healthcare support.

 

Skew even more female
With the life expectancy of women exceeding that of men, a greater and growing percentage of this generation will be women. Products mostly bought by men won’t have the same consumption rate as before, so items like golf gear and men’s grooming tools will not be in high demand. Respectively, women’s products will increase.

We see major changes ahead as our country’s infrastructure stains to supply housing, medical care and entertainment for the oldest members of our society.

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomers in the Workforce

The “baby boomer” generation will be the fastest-growing age group in the workforce next year. In 2018 almost 20% of Americans over the age of 65 were employed or actively looking for work according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is considerably up from less than 12% twenty years ago. The youngest of this generation, born in 1964, turned or will turn 55 this year.

With science and medicine making longer lives possible, people are more eager to continue to learn and make productive use of their time. For most, contributing to society means continuing to work. Additionally, the aging population is finding that pensions may not be sufficient sources of income to sustain the rest of their life. With a longer and healthier life expectancy comes needing retirement funds to last that much longer.

The World Health Organization has flagged workplace ageism as an ongoing issue, saying “employers often have negative attitudes towards older workers… even though older workers are not necessarily less healthy, less educated, less skillful or productive than their younger counterparts.” A survey was conducted this past year by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, finding that 1 in 3 Americans under the age of 50 felt the aging workforce had negative implications for their own careers. 

Contrary to this however, a study from Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research analyzed data from 1977-2011 to conclude that younger workers opportunities were in no way diminished by older workers presence in the workforce. The data researched actually suggested that the exact opposite was true!

Smart Home Technology Aiding Older Adults

As we enter the digital age, seniors are finding it easier to meet their security, safety, and comfort needs with smart home technology.

Home assistance devices such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa offer user friendly voice controls that are much simpler than navigating a complex app. With simple commands users can operate security, lighting, climate control, entertainment and privacy. This proves very helpful when dealing with limited mobility or poor vision.

Smart devices can also help older adults manage things like their medications and connect with community services, as well as stay in touch with family and friends. Family and caregivers are now able to save time and money with everyday tasks such as grocery delivery and transportation.

Safety is the number one concern in your home. Technology is available for automatic doors with security features, automatically adjusting counter-tops, motion or voice-activated faucets for water temperature control. Other accommodations and features include

  • Slip-fall detection and medical alert monitors
  • Adjustable sit-to-stand toilets
  • Controlled light systems & controlled blinds
  • Water filtration systems and leak sensors
  • Temperature sensors that can be precursors to house fires
  • Smart shower systems
  • Smart thermostats

Does the executor always have final say? It’s not that simple

If you’ve been named executor in a loved one’s will, you might be wondering if you, as executor, have final say in all matters related to the liquidation of the deceased’s property and personal belongings. There is no simple answer to this question. The executor does not “control” the estate. Rather, if you find yourself in this position, you should think of yourself as a fiduciary with an important responsibility to fulfill the deceased’s requests as faithfully as possible. 

In fact, according to NYCourts.gov, executors, administrators, or voluntary administrators (depending on the type of estate proceeding), “have a legal duty to act faithfully towards the estate and not put their personal interests ahead of duty.”

What does the executor actually do? The website goes on to state:

“Executors must carry out the wishes of the person who died as stated in the will. Administrators and voluntary administrators must settle the estate according to New York State laws of intestacy.

“Fiduciaries are responsible for protecting the property until all debts and taxes are paid and to promptly and efficiently administer the estate. In general, fiduciaries have three responsibilities:

  1. Collect, inventory and appraise all the assets of the estate.
  2. Pay the bills, taxes, estate expenses and creditors of the person who died.
  3. Transfer property according to the will or, if there is no will, then according to the law.”

In some cases, friends or family of the deceased may feel they have grounds to contest the will. The laws vary state-by-state, but in general, a properly drafted and signed will is very difficult to contest. When faced with these kinds of issues, it’s more important than ever for the executor to keep the deceased’s requests and wishes in mind. 

We’ve said before that while being named an executor is an honor, it is also difficult and time-consuming. If you are in this position and find it all a bit overwhelming, please contact an estate attorney and/or an estate liquidator to help facilitate the process.


Michael Olear is a Senior Real Estate Specialist. If you’re selling a house for someone else, contact us today at 716-880-4442

Looking for Help?

Are you looking for help with an executor concern?  Answer three simple questions and we’ll refer you to a highly qualified professional with expertise in the local area.

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7 Winter Weather Preparations To Protect Your Home

Don’t waste a ton of money this winter repairing or replacing costly effects that could have been avoided. Take these 7 quick and easy winter weather precautions and save the headache!

 

Buy a protector for your outdoor faucet

  • What can start as just a little frozen water can end up filling an inch of water in your basement which can cost up to $15,000 to pump out and dry out
  • Outdoor faucet protectors come in many styles, and you can order them through Amazon or at pick them up at your local home improvement store.
  • Check that any exposed pipes are insulated too

Invest in insulation to prevent ice dams

  • Icicles can be a sign of buildup on your gutter or roof, preventing the melting snow and ice from coming down through the gutters
  • Once the dam forms the resulting water can leak into cracks and opening in the attic, or drip down and create large and dangerous icicles
  • Attic insulation is key, but if you don’t have the money to fully insulate then you can temporarily affix heated gutter cables
  • Getting an ice dam steamed off can generally cost between $300-600 per hour
  • Get help finding the right contractor and know the questions to be asking

Clean your gutters

  • When water can’t get through your gutters, it redirects into your foundation
  • Plugging foundation cracks can cost from $1,500 to $3,000+
  • A full foundation excavation or rebuild can cost $30,000 or more

Seal up Leaks

  • Cracks can be found in window sills, baseboards, fireplace or dryer vents,etc
  • Inexpensively seal cracks with caulk; look for a brand that water based or waterproof and paintable
  • Learn how to caulk a crack in your wall

Program your thermostat

  • Align with your schedule to save on heating bills
  • Invest in a Wi-Fi programmable thermostat to easily control the temperature in your home, whether you’re home or away

Get a furnace tune-up

  • Maintain your current system as new units run around $4,000
  • Thoroughly clean the unit; blower, fan blades, and drain line
  • Replacing furnace filters regularly can shave another 15% off your energy bill
  • You can perform the tune up yourself or call a contractor to do it for you, which will include an inspection for other furnace issues as well as testing for leaks, fuel pressure, and airflow 

Get a fireplace inspection

  • This inspection checks the liners, smoke chamber, chimney exterior and firebox to detect for structural problems
  • If you haven’t used your fireplace in a while, check for fallen debris or nests that may have been formed by pests that can clog the chimney which can lead to a chimney fire, carbon monoxide poisoning  & toxic fumes
  • Take the time to schedule a maintenance appointment to avoid a fire than can cost thousands of dollars in repairs to your home or injury to you and your family
‘Right-sizing’ real estate workshop set

‘Right-sizing’ real estate workshop set

“The Four-Step Moving Plan,” a free real estate workshop led by licensed real estate broker Michael Olear, will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at Sandra Lane Senior Apartments, 705 Sandra Lane, North Tonawanda.

For older adults, their loved ones and caregivers, the workshop will cover topics including “right-sizing” and simplifying a living situation, preparing for a move, related legal and regulatory issues, and available resources and tools. To register, call 880-4442 or email [email protected]