Jerilyn Fisher - Senior Mortgage Loan Officer

Harris Financial Corporation
1115 North Leroy Street --- Fenton, Michigan 48430 --- (810) 750-8200
"Big City Solutions - Small Town Service"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, more than any other time in history since World War II, we thankfully think of those who have fought, who are now fighting, and who will continue to fight to preserve our liberty and the right of all people to live in freedom.

With all of the negative press coming out of Iraq lately, I thought I’d pass along the following email I recently received:

This is a letter from Ray Reynolds, a member of the Iowa Army National Guard serving in Iraq:

As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two-week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently (please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing):
· Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
· School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
· Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of weapons stored there so education can occur.
· The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
· The country had its first two million barrel export of oil in August (of 2004).
· Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
· The country now receives two times the electrical power it did before the war.
· 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
· Elections are taking place in every major city and city councils are in place.
· Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
· Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
· Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
· Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with U.S. soldiers.
· Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
· Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
· An interim constitution has been signed.
· Girls are allowed to attend school.
· Textbooks that don’t mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.

Don’t believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq, and I challenge anyone, anywhere, to dispute me on these facts . . . . If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.

Ray Reynolds, SFCIowa Army National Guard234th Signal Battalion

As we pause to give thanks on this holiday, let’s fly our flags a little more proudly and keep alive the spirit of American patriotism that is burning bright in us today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Property Titles

For many, part of the "American Dream" is owning real property. Prior to completing the purchase a buyer is typically asked by his real estate agent, and later by the title company handling the sale, how title is to be held.

Titling is held as important for a variety of reasons. Understanding the difference between sole proprietorship, joint tenancy, tenants-in-common, and community property impacts creditor protection, estate planning, and marital dissolution issues.

Sole ownership means just that ... title is vested in one person or entity. The buyer will sign as a single individual (having never been married) or an unmarried individual (widowed or divorced,) or a married individual acquiring an interest as sole and separate property with the other spouse relinquishing all right, title or interest.

Tenancy-in-common allows any number of persons to hold title together with each having a divided interest, equal or unequal. This form of ownership is common among business owners, parents and children, and unmarried domestic partners.

Since one co-tenant cannot act on behalf of another, and they are not liable for the acts or omissions of other co-tenants, creditors can assert a claim against only a portion of the property evidenced by a co-tenant's interest.

For estate planning purposes, a co-tenant has all the rights of a sole owner for his/her portion of the property, including the power of appointment to give his interest away while alive or leave an interest by will at death. For gift or estate tax purposes, the value of a co-tenant interest may be discounted if the new co-tenant does not enjoy the total ownership of the property.

Prior to completing the purchase a buyer is typically asked by his real estate agent, and later by the title company handling the sale, how title is to be held.

Joint-tenancy differs from tenants-in-common in that the property ownership interests, which can be owned by any number of persons, cannot be divided. There is only one title to the property and all owners have equal rights of possession. Upon the death of an owner, that person's ownership interest ends and cannot be willed or given away. The survivor(s) retain all ownership interests.

A common mistake made by parents is to put children on property as joint tenants thinking that by doing so they can pass the property without going through probate. The latter is true, however in doing so they create a taxable event in that the transfer of a joint tenant interest is considered a gift requiring the filing of a gift tax return. Also, this exposes the property to creditor claims of any joint tenant.

Since a joint-tenancy arrangement passes the property to the surviving joint tenant, the decedent tenant has no power of appointment over that property at death. Parents holding property in joint-tenancy have effectively disinherited their children since the first to die parent cannot appoint his/her interest in the property to an heir by means of a will.

Finally, when a joint tenant dies, the surviving tenant is deemed to have received a gift from the deceased of one half of the value of the property. This inherited half receives a stepped-up cost basis equal to the value of the property at date of death. Unlike community property, the half interest retained by the surviving joint tenant retains the original cost basis.

Community property states, such as California and Washington, treat property held and titled by married couples as community property similar to joint tenancy with two very important exceptions. At the death of the first spouse, the decedent has full power of appointment, or the ability to give his/her interest to whomever he/she pleases. Most commonly, the property will be left to the surviving spouse to use for the rest of his/her life, then be passed to the children. Finally, at death, the property receives a full stepped-up cost basis, enabling the surviving spouse to sell the property without a capital gains tax.

Reprinted with permission. The opinions expressed are those of Wendell Cayton, a Registered Investment Advisor in the states of California and Washington, and not those of any com­pany with whom he is associated. He may be contacted at

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Find Local Gas Prices

This piece is being offered with two specific groups in mind: the eager home buyer and the real estate agent. However, anyone in the local area may benefit from this information. What is it? I'm glad you asked. Here is a link I found that claims to have local and current gas prices:

Click here ---> Find local gas prices with just one click!

There are a lot of beautiful homes on the market right around here. The good news ... there is a lot to choose from and in this environment that means you can find some great values for your dollars. The bad news ... there is a lot to choose from which means more driving which in turns means more gas consumption. And with today's gas prices, the cost of house hunting is on the rise. But do not let the gas prices discourage you. The money you could save on your next home purchase (for home buyers) or the money you make on the next home sale (for real estate agents) more than makes up for the increase in gas prices. However it still makes sense (or is it cents?) to be as frugal as possible.

So, if you are a home buyer or a real estate agent (or even just a visiting friend looking to save some money) please check out the above link and post a comment if you think this is helpful. Happy house hunting!

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Touching Mother's Day Story

A little boy came up to his mother in the kitchen one evening while she was fixing supper and handed her a piece of paper that he’d been writing on. After his mom dried her hands on an apron, she read it, and this is what it said:

For cutting the grass: $5.00
For cleaning my room this week: $1.00
For going to the store for you: 50¢
For babysitting my kid brother while you went shopping: 25¢
For taking out the garbage: $1.00
For getting a good report card: $5.00
For cleaning up the yard and raking the leaves: $2.00
Total owed: $14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there and the boy could see the memories flashing through her mind. She picked up the pen, turned over the paper he’d written on, and this is what she wrote:

For the 9 months I carried you while you grew inside me: No Charge
For all the nights I’ve sat up with you and doctored and prayed for you: No Charge
For all the trying times, and tears you’ve caused through the years: No Charge
For all the nights filled with dread and the worries I know that are coming: No Charge
For the toys, food, clothes, and wiping your nose: No Charge
When you add it up, Son, my cost of love for you is: No Charge

When the boy finished reading what his mother had written, there were big tears in his eyes and he looked straight at his mother and said, “Mom, I sure do love you.”

And he took the pen and wrote in big letters: PAID IN FULL.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the special women in your life! Thanks Mom!

SUGGESTION - Why not click on the little envelope icon below this story to easily send this to those special women? It only takes a few seconds but the touching thought could linger all week. I know it will linger with me at least that long.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Flight Of The Bumblebee

It's springtime! We've weathered the cold of yet another winter. And if you're like me, you can hardly wait to go outside without several layers of protective clothing!

Among the sure signs of spring are insects, like bumble­bees. Even if you don't like bees and other insects, I think you'll appre­ciate the fable I want to tell you. It makes a true point.

Once upon a time, some eminent scientists developed an interest in the bumblebee. (Let's make them actual rocket scientists, at NASA.) They hoped the tiny insect held some secrets of flight that could be applied to shuttles re-entering the atmosphere. But the wings didn't seem able to generate enough lift for the relatively large torso. Certainly the round, hairy body was not well streamlined.

You probably know the punch line: After weeks of study, the NASA scientists unanimously concluded that bumblebees can't fly. But since no one told the bumblebee, the foolish creature has gone right on believing that it can.

The moral to this story is that you need to believe in yourself and your capacity to succeed, no matter what the so-called experts say. And that moral is true, even though the story isn't.

As automobile manufacturer Henry Ford said, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right." So as the year turns into hopeful spring, always think, "I can!"