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Jewish World Review Jan. 11, 2000 /4 Shevat, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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It all depends on size of estate -- DEAR BRUCE: Can you explain what trust funds are? I have property and some CDs. I don't expect to die for some time, but when I do I would like my estate to go to my children. All of my friends say that the government will take a big piece of the cheese. How do we avoid paying any taxes to Uncle Sam? -- D.B., Nashua, N.H.

DEAR D.B.: You left out some pretty important information. How much is your estate (CDs, home, etc.) worth? If it is under $650,000 there will be no federal tax. If it exceeds that number substantially, rather then getting into what a trust fund is, you should go see a good estate-planning attorney. I am betting that your estate is less than the current exemption of $650,000. If this is true, you may have state taxes to worry about, but you will have no federal taxes to concern yourself with.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 28 years old and married with one child. I am thinking of buying my first home for $115,000. I have been pre-qualified but would like to know the best way to finance. Where do I start? -- J.W., via e-mail

DEAR J.W.: There is a contradiction here: If you were pre-qualified, that means that you have already applied to a lending institution and they say they will lend you whatever dollars you have applied for. You might want to go down to the library and take a look at my book, "House Smart." Your letter indicates that you want a "road map," and I think that "House Smart" can provide that for you.

DEAR BRUCE: Is it a common practice for insurance companies to collect from an offender for damage to a customer's automobile when the offender is not guilty? My son was hit with a judgment because he failed to go to court, but he was never notified. The court refuses another hearing. -- M.S., Cincinnati

DEAR M.S.: It's most likely that your son was notified and either neglected to follow through or for whatever reason did not go to the hearing, and he lost by default. What the company is doing is called subrogating. They have paid out money on their client's behalf and now they want to get it back from your son. Apparently, the court agrees with the insurance company. If your son's automobile was insured, he should have notified the insurance company for the liability coverage. If he was driving uninsured, then he is on the hook for the whole thing.

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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