"Understanding the Risks of Joint Bank Accounts"
How will you pay your bills when you no longer can? Linda thought she found the answer: she opened a joint checking account with her daughter. Now her daughter, Margaret, can write checks whenever necessary. When Linda dies, her money will go directly to Margaret and stay out of probate. The account was simple to set up at Linda’s local bank branch.
Linda felt safe knowing her bills would be paid. She did not realize, however, that this arrangement put her at risk.
Let’s consider the fundamentals of joint bank accounts.
• All the people whose names are on a joint bank account are equal owners of the money regardless of who started the account or who deposited the money.
• Any owner can write checks, make withdrawals and deposits, and close the account.
• All owners are responsible for overdraft charges and other bank fees regardless of who caused them.
• Most joint accounts have a “right of survivorship.” When one account owner dies, the money transfers straight to the other owners.
While joint accounts are convenient, many people do not understand the risks of equal ownership.
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"Help Others Help You: Prepare an Inventory"
When I opened the door to my client’s apartment, knew I was in for a treasure hunt. Tim* was a new client, and I needed to quickly understand his legal and financial situation. He was in a nursing home and unable to communicate. I spent hours looking through his papers for clues.
Many of us will reach a point when we will need help handling our finances or making health care decisions. One of the most thoughtful gifts we can give to those we entrust to carry on or finalize our personal business is a guide to our assets and liabilities, and instructions on how to manage our money, legal and health affairs. The person who picks up the pieces for us can do this work effectively -- and as we wish -- when we take the time to compile the information in one place.
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"Getting the Bills Paid While Helping Seniors Maintain Their Self-Respect"
“I may be slow but I am not an imbecile!” Pat declared, voicing her frustration with her adult children. “I read and think much slower than I used to and my kids have no patience with me.”
Pat* is in her late 70s and has lost most of her vision. She needs help to read and manage her bills and personal paperwork. Many of my clients were in firm control of their finances until recently. Usually, it isn’t until problems develop that family members realize that a senior needs help. Illness, memory loss or a disability can lead to unpaid bills, cancelled insurance, misplaced mail, and checkbooks in disarray.
When people need help, however, they do not necessarily require or want someone to completely take over their money affairs. Click here to read more
"Shopping for a Car? Let Edmonds.com Help"
I haven’t yet met a person who rates car buying as one of their favorite activities. The buying process can be so convoluted that it is not always easy to determine whether you are paying a fair price. The website, www.edmunds.com, can help.
Last year I replaced my 11-year-old car. I began my search in July. With a list of the top-rated makes for my desired car type in-hand, I looked at four brands. Test driving was easy and fun. Then came the hard part – actually buying a car. I dragged my feet until I learned about Edmonds.com, recommended by a loan officer at a local credit union. Here I was able to research and compare the vehicles I was considering and, armed with solid information, felt confident negotiating my price.
Here are the tools that I found particularly helpful: Click here to read more
"The Magic Three-Digit Number: Your Credit Score"
A credit score is a number lenders use to decide whether to give you credit. Landlords, utility companies, and employers all use credit scores to determine your reliability and trustworthiness. Credit scores impact whether you can get a loan. They have a bearing on your interest rates and credit limits. They may be a factor in whether you get the job or the apartment you want. They may help determine the amount of your deposit for electricity, telephone, or natural gas service. In short, your credit score tells lenders and others how much of a risk you are.
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"How Long and Where to Keep Financial Papers"
As part of my Daily Money Management services, I frequently purge unnecessary documents from my clients’ files. Spring is a perfect time to do this. The lengthening day light hours make the task easier, and the extra space in file cabinets is a welcome relief from cramped, cuticle-tearing folders. When done annually, clearing out files doesn’t take much time. You can think about documents in terms of storage time and storage location.
There are four lengths of storage time... Click here to read more
"Crime of the 21st Century"
Elder financial abuse has been called the “Crime of the 21st Century.” A recent study by MetLife's Mature Market Institute estimates that elder financial abuse costs American seniors $2.6 billion a year. Yet according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, only 1 in 25 cases of financial elder abuse are ever reported.... Click here to read more
"When the Kids Come Home"
You are enjoying life as empty nesters. You have raised your kids and supported their education. They are on their own and you look forward to visits from your grandchildren. Then the economy changed. Your daughter and her husband lost their jobs... Click here to read more
"Clues That Help is Needed"
Barbara's mother called in a panic. The electric company had shut off her power. Barbara called the company and learned that her elderly mother had not paid her bills in several months. Barbara made an emergency trip to her mother's to sort out her affairs. She learned that other utilities had not been paid and last year's tax returns had not been filed... Click here to read more
"A Money Manager for You"
A new profession in the financial services industry is helping individuals with their everyday cash management and financial paperwork. "Daily Money Managers" function as financial caretakers, assisting individuals with organizing and managing their day-to-day finances... Click here to read more
"Prepare Now for the Loss of Your Spouse"
Debra, a Vermonter in her mid 50's was secure and happy. Both she and her husband were healthy and had good jobs. Rich paid all the bills, balanced the checkbook, and took care of the family finances. One November evening Rich went to play basketball. Debra was not concerned; he played regularly. That night Rich suffered a heart attack. Unexpectedly, Debra was a widow... Click here to read more
"Plug Those Money Leaks"
Today, people are looking for ways to save money. One of the best ways to reduce expenses is to find and plug "money leaks," ways that money seeps out bank accounts when you are not paying attention. In the course of my daily money management work with clients, I have found five common money leaks... Click here to read more