DEAR BRUCE: We own four acres of property on which our house is situated. Several of the acres have been kept in their natural state and, as a consequence, some kids have taken to riding their all-terrain vehicles on the property. I don't care, but my wife is getting very upset. She thinks if they get injured on our property, we're on the hook. I don't think it's such a big deal. -- Reader in Nevada
DEAR READER: Your wife is absolutely correct. Letting kids run anything on your property is an invitation for trouble; there is no question about it. If one of those kids is injured, even as a result of just screwing around, you are very much on the hook. If I were you, I would do everything in my power to get them off the property. It's not that you want to be an ogre, but you are flirting with losing everything you have if a serious accident occurs.
DEAR BRUCE: I am in the middle of a divorce. I built a consulting business from scratch, and I am the sole employee. Her attorney says the business is worth $800,000, with $150,000 annual gross revenue. Since I am the only employee and there is no business without me, how do you put a value on something like this? -- B.O., via e-mail
DEAR B.O.: With a gross of only $150,000 less expenses, I cannot imagine where the $800,000 estimate comes from. Since you are the only employee, this is a business that has no value without you. While your ex may be entitled to some credit because it was developed during your marriage, the reality is that you are not going to find a buyer at that price. I think your attorney can negotiate that number way down.
DEAR BRUCE: My husband and I are in our mid-70s. We want to protect our home from the state in the event either of us should be sent to a nursing home. We want to put the house in a trust in our children's names. We trust our children completely and know they would not defraud us. A lawyer friend suggested that the spouses of each child sign a release form, stating they would not try to collect in the event of divorce. Our home is our main asset. My husband is in favor of this proposal, but I am concerned about losing control of my home. -- Reader, via e-mail
DEAR READER: Do you want to collect Medicaid and then try to defraud the government so that you can leave an estate to your children? The fact is that a home cannot be sold or foreclosed until both husband and wife are no longer alive. The appropriate agencies would then try to recapture some of their investment. Why should taxpayers pay to protect an inheritance?
That said, if you are going to proceed with this issue, your attorney offered good advice. If you put the home in your kids' names and there is a divorce, their spouses would have an interest. Should your offspring pass away, this could further complicate the ownership of your home. In my opinion, don't play that game. If you insist on doing this, let your attorney guide you.
Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. Price: $14.95, plus shipping and handling. Call: (800) 337-2346.