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Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 1999 /10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Bruce Williams

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Love, honor -- and separate credit -- DEAR BRUCE: I am marrying a man who owns a home and two cars, and has excellent credit. In my previous marriage four years ago, we filed for bankruptcy. Since then, my credit has been fine, but obviously the bankruptcy still looks bad. What steps or precautions should we take, since we may want to invest in another home in the future? -- Jill, via e-mail

DEAR JILL: If I were in your circumstance, I would keep my finances entirely separate for the time being, assuming that the groom can qualify for a mortgage without taking into account any income you may have. There is no question that a bad credit report on you could muddy the waters. There is no obligation on his part to use you as part of the application process, but then again, any income you have would not be counted as his.

DEAR BRUCE: I was entitled to some money from an estate, and the check was dated December 29, 1998. The check was not mailed until 7 months later. My credit union would not take the check because it was over 6 months old, so I had to have it reissued. My niece got the same amount, but just deposited it into her ATM and got her money at once. Can you explain to me what this is all about? Also, can I get the interest that accumulated from that 7-month period? B.C. E-mail

DEAR B.C.: A check that is over 6 months old is considered "stale." That doesn't mean that it isn't good, but it does mean that, under ordinary circumstances, it will not be honored. If it does slip through the cracks, as apparently happened in your niece's case, it gets paid and goes through the system. Most institutions will return a check if it is considered stale. The responsible parties of the distribution got an extra 7 months of interest, and that money should accrue to the benefit of all the beneficiaries, though it is possible that the money was in a non-interest-bearing trustee account.

DEAR BRUCE: I would like to know what a counteroffer entails. If I place an offer on a house and the seller counters with itemized conditions, do I have to re-list these conditions every time I counteroffer? -- J.L., Fairfield, Calif.

DEAR J.L.: Any time there is a condition to a counteroffer, it should be repeated. If the negotiations go back and forth three or four times, this could be a lengthy list. In a real estate transaction, only that which is reduced to writing counts. If you or the seller receives a concession and it is not incorporated into the final contract, then the concession likely goes away.

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).


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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