‘No closing costs’ mortgages can be smart…but you need to be careful

no-closing-costs-mortgageA lot of lenders these days are offering a “no closing costs” option if you take out a mortgage. With this option, the lender pays the closing costs for you, but you pay a slightly higher interest rate on the loan.

This can be a good idea in some circumstances. But you have to run the numbers to find out if it’s right for you.

The appeal of a “no closing costs” loan is obvious: Closing costs can be expensive! The national average of closing costs for a $200,000 purchase-money mortgage is more than $4,000, according to a survey by Bankrate.com. And that figure can vary considerably by state: In New York, the most expensive state, the average total of closing costs for the same mortgage is $6,183.

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Huge tax-saving opportunity is available only until December 31

huge-tax-saving-opportunityAn enormous opportunity for families to reduce their estate taxes – and in some cases, save millions of dollars – will end on December 31, 2012. If there’s a chance you can take advantage of these savings, it’s wise to act immediately, because unless Congress changes the law, the window of opportunity will close permanently when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Between now and the end of the year, the lifetime exemption from the federal gift tax is $5.12 million. But on January 1, 2013, this exemption is scheduled to be reduced drastically, to just $1 million.

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Loved ones deserve compensation for injuries, too

loved-ones-deserve-compensation-for-injuries-tooSometimes, injured people don’t pursue compensation because they’re afraid of the stress of a lawsuit. But it’s important to remember that when someone is hurt, it’s not just that person who suffers. Family members, such as spouses, parents, and children, may have suffered as well. And they may deserve compensation for their own emotional pain – which is another reason why injured people should always discuss their situation with an attorney, so they can understand the rights of everyone involved.

The legal system recognizes the loss that family members experience when a loved one is hurt. It often allows family members to bring claims for their own “loss of consortium” with the injured person.

As with so many things, the law varies from state to state and from situation to situation. For instance, sometimes compensation for “loss of consortium” can be awarded as part of the injured person’s lawsuit. And sometimes the family members themselves can bring their own separate claims.

In some cases, a spouse can bring a claim and be compensated for the damage to the couple’s intimate relationship. In other cases, children can also be compensated, and the compensation is for the broader loss of the family member’s companionship, support, love and affection.

Our legal system recognizes the loss that family members suffer when a person is hurt in an accident.

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Slip-and-fall victim sues over ‘unknown’ liquid on floor

slip-and-fall-victim-sues-over-unknown-liquid-on-floorA contractor who slipped and injured himself while working on-site at a jewelry store could hold the store accountable for his injuries even if the store didn’t know that there was a slippery substance on the floor, the California Court of Appeal recently decided.

The contractor claimed he slipped on jewelry cleaning solution that someone else had spilled on the floor of the employee break room.

In California and many states, the general rule is that a store isn’t responsible for something slippery spilled on a floor unless the store knew about the problem – or had reason to know –and didn’t do anything about it. So, for instance, if a customer spills juice on the floor of a grocery store, and 15 seconds later another customer slips on it, the store probably won’t be responsible because it couldn’t reasonably be expected to have discovered the problem and fixed it in that time.

A store might not be responsible for spills caused by customers unless it knows about them, but a store is responsible for the careless acts of employees whether management knows about them or not, a court said.

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Weight-loss surgery could be far more dangerous than advertised

weight-loss-surgery-could-be-far-more-dangerous-than-advertised

For people who are significantly overweight, “lap-band” surgery can seem like a quick fix … especially in advertisements on billboards promising to make people look like sleek models if they undergo what’s described as a safe, easy, one-hour procedure at a surgical center.

In reality, this surgery – which involves placing bands around the upper part of the stomach to create a pouch, limiting the amount of food that can be eaten at one time – can be very risky, and has even resulted in death in certain instances.

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