Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 ways debt settlement may not be the fix you expect. Also in the news: NFL great Eric Dickerson shares money and life lessons, where to find low-cost checking and the reason why most people get rejected for a personal loan.

3 Ways Debt Settlement May Not Be the Fix You Expect
What debt settlement companies won’t tell you.

NFL Great Eric Dickerson Shares Money and Life Lessons
Tips from the Hall of Famer.

Consumers Can Find Low-Cost Checking, Despite Bank of America Move
Alternatives to BoA.

The reason why most people get rejected for a personal loan
Know the score.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Cryptocurrency for beginners. Also in the news: How credit card rewards made a couple’s dreams come true, when to tell your partner that you’re in serious debt, and why you should get a new bank if you’re paying fees.

Cryptocurrency for Beginners: 7 Questions to Ask
Understanding the hottest money trend.

How Credit Card Rewards Made Their Dreams Come True
Building rewards with an ultimate goal in mind.

Ask Brianna: Should I Tell My Partner I’m in Serious Debt?
When it’s time to confess.

If You’re Paying Fees of Any Kind, Get a New Bank
Don’t pay for your banking.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Whittle down your debt while having bad credit. Also in the news: 6 secrets from flight crews to stave off jet lag, what to buy every month of the year in 2018, and 3 ways you can better save for retirement.

Bad Credit? You Still Have Tools to Whittle Down Debt
You must be proactive.

6 Secrets From Flight Crews to Stave Off Travel Exhaustion
Keeping jet lag away.

What to Buy Every Month of the Year in 2018
Plan your shopping accordingly.

3 ways you can save better for retirement
Every penny counts.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do about the Fed rate hike. Also in the news: How to deal with credit card fraud, driverless cars, and how your credit card debt is costing you nearly $1000 a year.

Fed Rate Hike: Here’s What to Do
Don’t panic.

First Time Dealing With Credit Card Fraud? You Got This
Important steps to take.

Are Fully Self-Driving Cars Just Around the Corner?
Should we fear the driverless car?

Credit card debt is costing you nearly $1,000 per year
Interest piles up.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 steps to tame your debt in an hour or less. Also in the news: 10 housing and mortgage trends to watch for in 2018, how one woman ditched over 50K in debt, and why to be wary of instaloans in stores.

3 Steps to Tame Your Debt in an Hour or Less
Concrete steps.

10 Housing and Mortgage Trends to Watch for in 2018
What to keep an eye on.

How I Ditched Debt: A Wish List Kept Her Going
Read a success story.

Retailers now offers Instaloans to pay for purchasesBuyer beware,

Q&A: How to find your way out of difficult financial circumstances

Dear Liz: I desperately need your help! My husband, who is 91, is in the early stages of dementia. I just turned 88 and for the first time am responsible for making all the financial decisions.

We are deeply in debt and I don’t know the best way to proceed. We owe more than $40,000 on credit cards, nearly $50,000 on a home equity loan, $20,000 on solar panels and $3,500 for a timeshare.

I am thinking of getting a low-interest mortgage on our home to pay off all these debts. We have no savings left. I just don’t know if this is a good idea or who to go to for answers.

Answer: If you have a younger family member or friend you trust, please consider involving this person in your search for answers. The possible solutions you need to consider are complex and would be daunting even for someone with a lot of experience in making financial decisions.

Getting a mortgage could be one solution, assuming you can get approved and afford the payments. Start by consulting a mortgage loan officer at your bank to see if this is an option.

Another possibility is a reverse mortgage, if you have sufficient home equity. The reverse mortgage could allow you to pay off some or all of your debts without having to make monthly payments. If you have substantial equity, you also may be able to supplement your income.

The reverse mortgage would have to be paid when you sold the home, died or moved out. A housing counselor, available from many National Foundation for Credit Counseling agencies, can discuss those with you. You can get referrals at www.nfcc.org.

Bankruptcy is yet another option to consider.

If your income is below the median for your area, you may be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation to legally rid yourself of the credit card debt and timeshare. You also may be able to erase the solar panel loan, if it’s unsecured. If you have a lot of equity in your home, though, you could be forced to sell the house to pay your creditors, making Chapter 7 a bad option.

The other type of bankruptcy, Chapter 13, allows you to keep more property but requires a repayment plan that typically lasts for five years.

If you don’t have a lot of equity, on the other hand, and your income is protected from creditors, you may be “judgment proof.” That means if you stop paying your unsecured debts, your creditors could sue you but be unable to collect. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can assess your situation and let you know your options.

Referrals are available from the National Assn. of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, www.nacba.org.

If you don’t have a trusted person to help you sort through your options, or even if you do, consider hiring a fee-only planner who charges by the hour. An experienced planner who agrees to be a fiduciary — which means he or she puts your best interests first — can help ease your mind that you’re making the right choice.

You can get referrals from the Garrett Planning Network, www.garrettplanningnetwork.com.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How ‘free’ credit cards can cost you. Also in the news: Plan, give and spend smart to avoid holiday debt, answers to 5 trick questions from car dealers, and 7 tips on becoming a ‘financial’ caregiver.

How ‘Free’ Credit Cards Can Cost You
Reading the fine print.

Plan, Give and Spend Smart to Avoid Holiday Debt
Giving wisely.

Answers to 5 Trick Questions From Car Dealers
Beat them at their own game.

Seven tips on becoming a ‘financial’ caregiver
Managing multiple households.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to rebound from natural disaster debt. Also in the news: Quitting your job without another lined up, a 5-step recipe for financial success, and how to get in the holiday spirit without going into debt.

How to Rebound From Natural Disaster Debt
Slow and steady recovery.

Ask Brianna: Should I Quit My Job Without Another Lined Up?
Escaping a job you hate.

Your 5-step recipe for financial success
Five simple steps.

How to get in the holiday spirit without going into debt
A budget is essential.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: New payday loan rule protects borrowers from sinking into debt. Also in the news: Sailing into Columbus Day sales, how to make money on Amazon, and why you’re losing money if cash is your only savings strategy.

New Payday Loan Rule Protects Borrowers From Sinking Into Debt
Protecting the consumer.

Should You Sail Into Columbus Day Sales?
What to purchase this weekend.

How to Make Money on Amazon
So that you can turn around and then spend it on Amazon.

If Cash Is Your Only Savings Strategy, You’re Losing Money
A piggy bank doesn’t draw interest.

Q&A: Your debt lives even after you die

Dear Liz: I live in a senior building and we had a discussion about our debt after we pass away. I said, “If we have any money in our estate, that will pay it off.” One woman who lives here claims that all you have to do is send in a copy of a death certificate and that will get rid of any debt. Hope you can settle this for us.

Answer: Debt doesn’t just disappear when someone dies. Whether and what creditors get paid, though, depends on a lot of factors.

After someone dies, the executor of the estate (or the personal representative, if the deceased had a living trust) is supposed to notify creditors of the death. The first bills to be paid usually are the costs of administering the estate, followed by secured debt such as mortgages, liens and so on, then the funeral and burial expenses, says Los Angeles estate planning attorney Andrew Steenbock. Next in line typically are medical bills from the final illness and the dead person’s last tax bill. Then other creditors are paid from what’s left, if anything. Only after creditors are paid can any remaining assets be distributed according to the will, trust or state law if there are no estate planning documents. If the estate is insolvent — with more debt than assets to pay those debts — then heirs typically get nothing and the creditors are paid a portionate amount of whatever assets are available.

Things can get more complicated if there is a surviving spouse or co-signer, since debt that’s jointly owed would become the survivor’s problem.

Ignoring these rules can have serious repercussions for the executor, who can become personally liable for mistakes made in settling an estate. If your neighbor’s executor ignores state law and distributes assets to heirs before paying off creditors, for example, the creditors could sue the executor. That’s a pretty powerful incentive for learning and obeying those rules.