Hertz Schram PC
Oakland County 248-494-4486
Detroit 313-757-4724
Toll-free 866-775-5987

Hertz Schram PC Legal Blog

Considering Not Filing the Property Transfer Affidavit? Don't Even Think About It!

Prior to 1995, real property in Michigan was taxed at its "assessed value"; that is, at 50% of its true cash value, which Michigan courts deem synonymous with fair market value. This meant that taxes on real property went up or down in tandem with increases or decreases in the property's true cash value.

However, in 1994, Michigan voters approved Proposal A, which amended Michigan's Constitution to require that, starting in 1995, Michigan real properties were to be (i) assigned a taxable value in addition to their assessed value, and (ii) taxed based on their taxable value--an amount that cannot exceed the property's assessed value and that can only increase by the lesser of 5% or the rate of inflation. This is known as the Proposal A Cap. Thus, in a rising real estate market, assessed values will increase in tandem with the market, but taxable values will increase only by the rate of inflation which may be less than the rate indicated by the market.

Michigan Court of Appeals Issues Decision Regarding Grandparent Visitation Statute

Ending 10 years of uncertainty and inconsistent rulings at the trial court level, the Michigan Court Appeals opened the door for grandchildren in the State to have a meaningful relationship with their grandparents. In a decision reached last week, the Court made clear that, indeed, grandparents have the right to file for visitation with their grandchildren. The Court addressed both the procedural and substantive issues that previously made it difficult for judges to rule on these petitions.

First, the Court of Appeals (once and for all) opined that the Michigan Grandparent Visitation statute, MCL 722.27(b), is indeed constitutional.

Second, the Court of Appeals decision in the Granneman (Granneman.pdf) case confirms that the Court need not hear from a mental health professional in order for the court to determine, from the evidence, that to deny grandparent visitation could create a substantial risk of harm to the child's mental, physical or emotional health.

Must the POSSIBILITY of Obtaining a Zoning Variance Be Considered When Appealing a Property Tax Assessment?

When Appealing a Michigan Property Tax Assessment, Must the Possibility of Obtaining a Zoning Variance Be Considered in Determining the Property's True Cash Value?

The Answer: It depends!

MS v. City of Brighton, 2015 Mich. App. LEXIS 799 (Apr. 21, 2015), highlights the importance of retaining an expert in a Michigan property tax appeal, especially where the parties dispute is whether the possibility of obtaining a zoning variance must be considered in determining the property's true cash value ("TCV"). The salient facts are as follows.


GREAT NEWS! Your business is going like gang busters. You want to start putting money into retirement. You have no employees but yourself. What type of retirement plan it right for you? Perhaps a 401(k) plan is the answer instead of a basic profit sharing plan.

Let us take a look at the numbers. However, before going into any figures, it is important to make sure you are aware of certain statutory rules that make a 401(k) plan right for you. These are as follows:


Underwood v. Carpenters Pension Trust Fund Detroit & Vicinity ("Pension Plan") et. al.

Case No. 2:13-cv-14464; U.S. Dist. Ct. E.D. Mich.; Hon. Laurie J. Michelson

For those of you who have been following this Pension Plan class action, you may interested to learn that the Class members recently received another major victory in the case. Here's a summary of the main events, including the most recent favorable decision from the district court.

Facts Giving Rise to the Pension Plan Class Action

In May of 2013, I started receiving calls from participants in the Pension Plan whom the Trustees had determined were totally and permanently disabled from performing any more work in the construction industry. These disabled Pension Plan participants told me they had received a notice that the Pension Plan was amended, effective August 1, 2013, to drastically reduce their disability retirement benefits. I subsequently learned that the average benefit reduction was over 60%! I also determined that the reductions were illegal. Therefore, on October 24, 2013, I and my partners Bob Geller and Brad Schram filed a class action against the Pension Plan and its Trustees seeking to recover the disability retirement benefits wrongfully withheld and to have the original amount of the disability retirement benefit reinstated. Thereafter, the parties extensively briefed the merits of the Claim and whether the proposed Class should be certified.

Who Really Owns Your Facebook Posts?

Another year has likely brought about another round of faux legalese to your Facebook news feed. If you have been on Facebook within the last week or two, you have probably seen something like this:

"Channel 13 News was just talking about this change in Facebook's privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of September 27th , 2015 at 02:07 a.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. You MUST copy and paste."

Posts similar to the one above made the rounds in 2012, 2013, 2014, and earlier this year. Their first appearance in 2012 coincided with a change in Facebook's terms of use that allowed Facebook to share account information with its subsidiaries. In response, some Facebook users who were concerned about their intellectual property rights in their Facebook content, including countless photos and written posts, began circulating disclaimers similar to the one above.

The Michigan Supreme Court Clarifies The Confusing Theory Of Conversion

Hertz Schram attorneys Deborah Lapin and Matthew Turchyn recently obtained a favorable opinion on behalf of Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC in the Michigan Court of Appeals in Sutter v Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Case No. 320704 (April 21, 2015). The issue before the Court of Appeals was whether Ocwen converted a $16,860.68 property insurance check when it was a named payee on the check but did not attempt to cash, endorse or negotiate the check. The trial court found that Ocwen converted the check pursuant to MCL 600.2919a(1), Michigan's statutory conversion statute, because it was not entitled to the check as it did not have an insurable interest in the property. The trial court awarded the plaintiffs treble damages and attorney fees upon finding that Ocwen statutorily converted the check pursuant to MCL 600.2919a(1).

Who Is the "Party In Interest" When Appealing Property Tax Assessments?

It's not always as straight forward as you might think!

JMC v. City of Grand Rapids, 2015 Mich. App. LEXIS 953 (May 12, 2015), highlights the importance of knowing the "party in interest" with the right to appeal a Michigan property tax assessment. The salient facts of the case are as follows.

JMC LLC (JMC) owned an industrial property in Grand Rapids. In May of 2012, Property Tax Consultants (PTC) filed a property tax appeal petition on behalf of JMC in the Michigan Tax Tribunal (MTT), challenging the City's 2012 assessment and valuation of the property. In December of 2012, JMC sold the property to 1642 Broadway, LLC (Broadway).

A few months later, on April 24, 2013, PTC, on behalf of solely JMC as the petitioner, filed a motion to amend the 2012 petition to add the 2013 tax year. The MTT initially granted the motion. However, on June 14, 2013, two weeks after the deadline by which an interested party could have appealed the 2013 assessed and taxable values on the subject property, PTC filed another motion with the MTT, this one advising the MTT that JMC had sold the subject property in December of 2012, and requesting that JMC be allowed to add Broadway (the buyer) as a co-petitioner for purposes of the 2013 tax year.

Managing Your Emotions During a Divorce

Divorce is an emotionally difficult process, a statement most of us believe to be true. Yet, when you're the one going through a divorce, the full truth of this statement becomes self-evident. You find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster with your emotions ranging from sadness, anger, bitterness, self-doubt, failure, and fear - just to name a few. These negative emotions can overwhelm you, rightfully so. So how do you hold it together to protect yourself and your children from emotion harm during this very stressful situation? Is it possible to reduce the acrimony you may be experiencing and get off the rollercoaster? Susan Heitler, PhD, a clinical psychologist, suggests the following 8 guidelines for a friendly divorce:

Real Probate? A Successful Combination in Law

Many lawyers have multiple specialties that seem to go hand in hand. People often think of lawyers with dual specialties as having only one. Tax AND estate planning, medical malpractice AND personal injury, corporate AND securities are but a few examples that come immediately to mind. Let me add another natural combination of which I am one of a very few members; real estate AND probate.