HUD makes reverse mortgages less attractive

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made changes to the federal reverse mortgage program. Citing the need to put the program on better financial footing, HUD has raised reverse mortgage fees for some borrowers and lowered the amount homeowners can borrow. The changes took effect on October 2, 2017. They affect borrowers who take out new loans, but not existing loans.

A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner who is at least 62 years old to use the equity in his or her home to obtain a loan that does not have to be repaid until the homeowner moves, sells, or dies. In a reverse mortgage, the homeowner receives a sum of money from the lender, usually a bank, based largely on the value of the house, the age of the borrower, and current interest rates. Seniors sometimes use the loans to pay for long-term care. [Read more…]

Should you enroll in two popular Medigap plans while you can?

If you will soon turn 65 and be applying for Medicare, you should carefully consider which “Medigap” policy to enroll in because two of the most popular plans will be ending soon.

Between copayments, deductibles, and coverage exclusions, Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. Medigap (or “supplemental”) plans offered by private insurers are designed to supplement and fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. There are 10 Medigap plans currently being sold, identified by letters. Each plan package offers a different combination of benefits. [Read more…]

What happens when a nursing home closes?

The expansion of alternatives to nursing homes, such as assisted living and community care, has been financially challenging for the nursing home industry, and every year a small percentage of facilities close their doors. The state or federal government may also shutter a facility for safety issues.

Moving into a nursing home can be a stressful experience by itself. If that nursing home closes, residents can experience symptoms that include depression, agitation, and withdrawn behavior, according to The Consumer Voice, a long-term care consumer advocacy group. While there may not be much that can be done to prevent a closure, residents do have some rights. [Read more…]

How to reverse Medicare surcharges when your income changes

Are you a high-income Medicare beneficiary who is paying a surcharge on your premiums but who has experienced a drop in income or is anticipating one? If your circumstances change, you can reverse those surcharges.

Higher-income Medicare beneficiaries (individuals who earn more than $85,000) pay higher Part B and prescription drug benefit premiums than do Medicare beneficiaries with lower incomes. The extra amount the beneficiary owes increases in stages as the beneficiary’s income increases. The Social Security Administration uses income reported two years ago to determine a beneficiary’s premiums. So the income reported on a beneficiary’s 2016 tax return is used to determine whether the beneficiary must pay a higher monthly premium in 2018. [Read more…]

Three reasons why giving your house to your kids isn’t the best way to protect it from Medicaid

Are you afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid? While this fear is well-founded, transferring the home to your children is usually not the best way to protect it.

Although a home generally does not have to be sold in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, the state could file a claim against the house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care. This is called “estate recovery.” If you want to protect your home from this recovery, you may be tempted to give it to your children. Here are three reasons not to: [Read more…]

How can I obtain power of attorney over my sister that is unable to sign?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My sister is in a nursing home at the age of 41 she has liver damage and has dementia and she can not make decisions on her own anymore and can not take care of herself. I have been helping her and making decisions for her but need power of attorney to make every decision and to be able to help her more [Read more…]

What should I do about a verbal agreement and one witness?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My mother passed away.  Before she passed, she had a talk with my step-dad and her kids separately. She stated to me and my brother that she and my step-dad had talked about what she wanted to do with her money.  She was leaving her s.s., pension and 401k to her kids.  She also stated that my step-dad agreed to giving us everything and that he stated to her didn’t want any of the [Read more…]

Can the executor of someone’s estate help them change their will?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

It is my uncles will. My mother is his sister. Initially my uncle put me and my 2 sisters on his will to inherit everything. Recently he has become very ill and we found out we were removed and now everything will go to my mother. We have suspicion that she did this without asking him. So is it possible for her to do that? Someone who is in charge of the will to be able to go in and change it so she will inherent everything. I mean she isn’t “in charge” of his will but she does everything for him. So it would be easy enough for her to change the will and have him sign it without him knowing she changed it. [Read more…]

My Aunt died she lived alone, had no life insurance and no will–she has an x husband and step children who acts as executor?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am the nephew, and live closest to where my aunt lived, but was told that the step children will have to decide her estate–The hospital and her landlord call my house what should I do if her step children and ex husband do not respond? [Read more…]

My ex is refusing to give me ss# so I can put my boys in my will?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I now have a living will and have requested at least 5 times to my ex wife’s attorney my boys ss# I am not allowed to talk to my ex and still have not gotten them what can I do? [Read more…]

Can a term life insurance policy be active if payment on premiums stopped 4 years ago?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

My ex-husband passed away and our kids are the beneficiaries of his term life insurance. When I called to file the claim I was told that his policy was active. I was sent the paperwork and all of a sudden several months later, the company says that “after further investigation” they’ve found out that payments stopped several years ago. And there is a small cash value to the policy which is what kept it active. It was a 30-year term policy. I don’t have a copy of the policy.

Is it possible for the policy to be active if it lapsed so long ago? I don’t have access to my ex-husband’s bank records.
What can I do to verify that what the insurance company are saying is true? We have young kids and this money will help me raise them. [Read more…]

For Massachusetts, NOT FEDERAL, Estate Tax: Does a gift of 100,000 need to be added back into my dad’s estate to calculate tax?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Dad’s estate is 1,400,000 and he died single. A year before his death he gave me $100,000. Do I use 1,400,000 or add the $100,000 for $1,500,000 when completing the MASSACHUSETTS ESTATE TAX RETURN? I am worried about some three year rule I read about> That is, the gift to me of 100,000 occurred within 3 years of his death [Read more…]

Useful Online Productivity and Security Tools

Here are several popular free or inexpensive online tools that can help manage and protect your online activities. They range from password management tools to security protection services.

Password Managers

A decade-old study by Microsoft estimates that the average person memorizes about six passwords and reuses them over and over. Today most people use dozens if not hundreds of online sites that require passwords. You put your security at risk if you are still using a few of the same old passwords. [Read more…]

Elements of a Good Business Partnership

Like a bundle of sticks, good business partners support each other and are less likely to crack under strain together than on their own. In fact, companies with multiple owners have a stronger chance of surviving their first five years than sole proprietorships, according to U.S. Small Business Administration data.

Yet sole proprietorships are more common than partnerships, making up more than 70 percent of all businesses. That’s because while good partnerships are strong, they can be hard to make. Here are some elements that good business partnerships require: [Read more…]

Is It Worth It to Amend Your Return?

Whether it makes sense to amend your return depends on which of these situations you’re in:

If you owe the IRS

If you discover an omission on your tax return that results in you owing additional tax, you need to correct it with an amendment and provide the tax due.

Don’t delay if this is your situation. If the IRS discovers the omission before you do, they may add interest and penalties to your bill. [Read more…]

Become Debt-Free

The average household carries $137,063 in debt, while the median household income is less than $60,000, according to data from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Labor Department. While it’s easy to get into debt, it can be hard to get out. Here are five tips personal finance experts recommend to lower your debt burden: [Read more…]

How Long Will It Last?

Planning to replace common items

Part of financial planning is having a good sense of how much it will cost to replace your possessions when they break down or wear out. But many of the big-ticket consumer products may cost more to replace and wear out sooner than you think.

An essential part of financial planning is to budget replacing some of these items each year. To help you do this, here are some common big-ticket items, how long they tend to last, and how much it may cost to replace them. [Read more…]

Five Tax Breaks for New Parents

New parents have their work cut out for them. Not only are they dealing with lost sleep, they also face the extra cost of raising a child. At least there are a lot of potential tax breaks available to them. Check out this list and share it with any new parents you know. [Read more…]

This month:

July 4: Independence Day

July 31: Quarterly federal excise tax returns (Form 720) due

July 31: Employer quarterly federal tax returns (Form 941) due

July 31: Calendar-year employee retirement and benefit plan returns (5500 series) due [Read more…]