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Jewish World ReviewSept. 8, 1999 /27 Elul, 5759

Bruce Williams

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How do I roll over my 401(k)? -- DEAR BRUCE: I changed jobs a couple of years ago and left my 401(k) funds with that employer. Now I would like to transfer the money. I have contacted the former employer in writing, but for several weeks all I have received are additional required forms. At this point, I think that they are stalling me. I do continue to receive quarterly statements showing the funds and earnings in my account, and my former employer is a reputable, well-established law firm. Finding an attorney to handle the problem would be problematic at best. -- J.A., via e-mail

DEAR J.A.: The easiest thing for you to do is to turn this matter over to a broker of your choice, who will handle the funds when you roll them into an IRA. It's part of their job to shuffle this kind of paperwork. They should know what buttons to push to make things happen. I don't think that there is any need at this moment for an attorney.

DEAR BRUCE: I am 71 years old and in poor health. My house is worth $80,000 and I have no relatives or charities that I care to leave my property to. I am thinking of taking a reverse mortgage. At best, I have about two years to live. It seems that it would be profitable to someone who is interested in making a good investment. I have discussed this matter with an attorney, who thinks that this is a good idea. If I follow through with this deal I will make a $1,000 contribution to your favorite charity. Can you suggest a fair amount that I might ask for the property? What are the risks? Your opinion and advice would be appreciated. -- E.T., Cynthia, Ky.

DEAR E.T.: I appreciate the offer for the donation, but that isn't necessary. Since you have no one to leave your assets to, why not find an investor who will pay you perhaps half or more of the value of the house and give you life rights to live there? They will pay the taxes, insurance, etc. If the house is really worth $80,000 you will get $40,000 in cash. The house is sold to the investor, who, in turn, allows you to live there for the rest of your life. After you pass away, whatever profit he or she makes in selling the house is of no concern to you. You will have had the use of the $40,000 in cash to make your life a lot more comfortable. This kind of an arrangement doesn't happen very often, but it certainly sounds like a win-win situation. Perhaps you have opened up a new idea for investments. Something like this might be of interest to many folks, and I am no exception.

DEAR BRUCE: I received a refund check for $150 from a company. I went to a bank and cashed it. Two hours later, the bank called and said that I would have to return the money because the check from the company was not signed. They told me that it was not their responsibility to get a signature. Is it my responsibility to go to the bank, return the money and send the check back to the company for one that is signed? -- J.R. Clifton Park, N.Y.

DEAR J.R.: You bet it is! Obviously the teller that cashed your check neglected to see that the paper was not signed. You have a responsibility to give "good paper" to the bank. Since there was no signature, it is not good paper. It would be much easier for you to go down and give them the $150. If the company is local, just take it to them and have it signed. If not, then mail it to them for a signature. This is not an uncommon problem, and it shouldn't take that long to straighten out.

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).


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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