Poor Man Survival
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“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
Debts After Death-What You Need to Know
In today’s issue I’m addressing a number of useful issues, many of which affect all of us at one time or another. Some of you know I moved across the country from my beloved Arizona to care for family members to a 3rd world state called Michigan where the cost of everything tripled [water, auto insurance, property taxes, etc.]
Caring for the elderly is a growth ‘industry’ if you will in this nation and eventually, due to my own heart issues, my spouse found herself caring for me as well! This, after we attended the funerals of her parents, my parents, aunts and uncles, etc. – more funerals in an 18 month period than all of our previous years combined…then there were all the estate matters to contend with…
No doubt you’ve seen the deluge of TV commercials offering life insurance for those between the ages of 45 and 85, virtually no questions asked. They’re essentially offering burial [or cremation] insurance and it is a good idea. Too many Americans forego life insurance while they are young and it is more affordable.
Thankfully, we both have life insurance, personal wills, living wills, medical end of life documents and so forth. But what concerns me is how the TV ads mention ‘paying off credit cards’ for the deceased. In reality, what happens depends on the type of debt you have you have, whether, for instance, anyone cosigned a loan or mortgage, where you live, and the size of the estate you leave behind.
Your surviving spouse is responsible for any outstanding debt if he or she cosigned the loan. In nine states that follow “common property” rules, your debt is also your spouse’s if it was acquired during the marriage. Children aren’t liable unless they inherit assets tied to the debt or anything that could be used pay it. For other debts, like credit cards [considered unsecured debt] creditors usually cannot hold heirs responsible, unless the loans are cosigned…but they can make a claim on the estate. [Then you usually need to hire an attorney to file a counterclaim, often a simple letter will work].
Some friends in AZ told us they had just paid off their mortgage but were angered to learn that a lawyer had placed a lien on the property preventing them from selling the property before satisfying the lien. Turns out the lien was placed against the husband’s son who has the same name. Nonetheless, the husband’s name had never been on this particular mortgage! Nor had they had they ever received legal notice.
As it turns out it the lien had been placed in error but it cost our friend $200 in legal fees to have it removed and how he is suing the party who placed the lien for damages. As a result I double checked our property for any unknown outstanding liens and thankfully, found none. I found a service which would notify me if any were ever placed so I could immediately fight it. After all, we do live in a land where the national motto has become “When in doubt, sue.”
Finally, I looked into joining one of those pre-paid legal plans and at $20 or more a month and for what they offered, I couldn’t justify it. I must reveal that I have taken a para-legal class in contract law years ago when I owned my publishing firm and it saved me a ton of bucks over hiring a lawyer each time I needed something done [this did not preclude me from having certain contracts reviewed, at a much lower rate]. However, the average person only needs legal documents and/or an attorney a few times in their life so I suggest getting a copy of this CD ROM which can save you a lot time, headaches and money.
Over 13,000 Printable Editable Legal Forms
Legitimate caregiving service from the National Council on Aging
BenefitsCheckUp is a legitimate service from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a nonprofit service and advocacy organization. The NCOA has a 60+ year track record of building public awareness, influencing federal legislation, and creating national programs to make life better for older adults.
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Resources of the Week
Toggl: This free online tool enables you to track your time. It can be a bit depressing to see just how much time you spend on social media or email. Then again, like budgeting, it's good to know where our time goes so that we can make better use of our day.
New credit cards contain EMV technology. The idea was to reduce the amount of fraudulent credit card charges. Not surprisingly the fraudsters have adapted their tactics and targets. You might want to read this article from our Bankrate feed. According to them, "vulnerabilities in mobile devices, data breaches, and poor password habits are some of the ways in which scammers are able to obtain sensitive personal information." The article points out seven things you should do to protect your identity.
- Why Apple Is Right to Protect Your Privacy (Yahoo Finance): "Steve Jobs understood what people want. His insistence on making hard things easier — for instance, using a personal computer — was an essential part of the Apple success story. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been doing the same thing — but now the "hard thing" is privacy and encryption."
Can You Be Arrested For Not Paying Your Student Loans? (Forbes): "When a Houston man was picked up by deputy US Marshals [via SWAT teams] earlier this month, the headlines flew fast and furious. Paul Aker claimed that he had been arrested for failing to pay a $1,500 student loan dating back to 1987. It was, many claimed, taking us back to the days of debtor’s prison."
Yours for better living,
Bruce, ‘the Poor Man’
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