Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A financial advisor’s tips for starting an emergency fund. Also in the news: How small homes can offer big returns, why partner’s wealth is very important to only 5% of OKCupid users, and how to raise financially savvy kids.

Emergency Funds: A Financial Advisor’s Tips for Getting Started
Start your fund today.

Small Homes Can Offer Big Returns
Bigger homes aren’t always better.

Partner’s Wealth ‘Very Important’ to Only 5% of OkCupid Users, Survey Finds
Why money doesn’t seem to matter.

How to raise financially savvy kids
Getting them off on the right foot.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

mortgage2Today’s top story: Why you should front-load your IRA in January. Also in the news: Rideshare insurance for drivers, why January is the best time to buy a home, and how fifteen minutes a day can get your finances in order.

Front-Load Your IRA in January for a Bigger Payoff
It’s all about compound interest.

Rideshare Insurance for Drivers: Where to Buy, What It Covers
What Uber and Lyft drivers need to know.

Why January Is the Best Time to Buy a Home
Timing is everything.

Commit to Fifteen Minutes of Financial Literacy a Day to Get Your Finances in Order
Make it a daily habit.

Q&A: Don’t bequeath trouble to your descendants

Dear Liz: I have two grown children, neither of whom owns a home, and three grandchildren. I would very much like to keep my house in the family for all to use, if and when needed. It is not large, and it would be somewhat difficult for two families to live here at the same time. I have a trust that splits everything between the two children. I also have handwritten a note and had it notarized explaining I would like the house kept in the family and not sold or mortgaged. Can you advise me?

Answer: Please think long and hard before you try to restrict what the next generation does with a bequest, particularly when it’s real estate. Is your desire to keep the house in the family worth causing rifts in that family?

It would be hard for two families to share even a large home. You could be setting up epic battles, not only over who gets to live there but how much is spent to maintain, repair and update the home. It’s difficult enough for married couples to own property together; siblings are almost certain to disagree about how much to spend and the differences may be even greater if only one family is actually using the house.

If your house is sold, on the other hand, it could provide nice down payments for each family to buy its own home. Alternatively, one family could get a mortgage to buy out the other and live in the house. Or the home could be mortgaged to provide two down payments and then rented out. Your notarized note wouldn’t prevent your children from doing any of these things, but it may cause them unnecessary guilt and disagreements about honoring those wishes.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

images-2Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s 2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study. Also in the news: The best places in American for first-time homebuyers, why Christmas loans are the coal in your financial stocking, and the best free online courses to help with your finances.

2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study
Creeping back up.

Best Places in America for First-Time Homebuyers
Where you should be looking.

Christmas Loans: The Coal in Your Financial Stocking
Bah humbug.

The Best Free Online Courses to Help With Your Finances
It doesn’t get better than free!

Monday’s need-to-know money news

refinancingToday’s top story: How to find and finance bank-owned properties. Also in the news: Tips for handling holiday financial stress, how to have the money talk with your parents, and what to do when financial aid and scholarships don’t fully cover course fees.

How to find and finance bank-owned properties
It’s easier than you might think.

5 tips for handling holiday financial stress
Don’t let stress ruin the holidays.

How to have the ‘money talk’ with your parents
Tackling a difficult subject.

Financial Aid and Scholarships Don’t Always Cover Course Fees
Making sure you can cover your costs.

Q&A: Sheltering home profits

Dear Liz: I understand that the profit realized on the sale of a home is not subject to tax, as long as that money is reinvested in another home. What if the couple divorces before or after the sale? If they split the profit from the sale and one or both put those funds into another house as single buyers, is each exempt from the tax? Does the fact that both are in their 70s have any effect on this matter?

Answer: Your information about home sale profits is about 20 years out of date. In 1997, Congress changed the law that once allowed people 55 and older to roll up to $125,000 of home sale profits into another home tax-free. That was a one-time tax break.

Now you can shelter up to $250,000 per person in home sale profits before owing any tax, and you can use the tax break repeatedly. You have to live in the home for at least two of the previous five years to qualify for the exemption.

Divorce can change your tax situation dramatically, and you don’t want to make decisions based on obsolete information. Please consult a tax professional to make sure you understand all of the implications of your split.

Q&A: What to consider when deciding how to bequeath your home

Dear Liz: I’m at 74-year-old retired woman living in a completely paid-off condo in California. I hold title in my name only. I would like to add my partner of 20 years and my married adult daughter to my home title so they will not have to go through probate if something happens to me. What would be the easiest way to do that? Someone told me a quick deed to each person giving them a third of the condo. I want it as joint tenancy so the condo would just go to the survivors. My parents always held title with my brother and myself. Do you see a problem with this?

Answer: The “quick deed” to which you refer is probably a quitclaim deed, which would transfer your entire interest in the property to someone else and possibly create gift tax issues. That’s not what you want.

Another option is a revocable transfer on death deed. Like many other states, California now offers this option so that real estate can bypass probate. You would retain ownership of the condo until you die, when it would pass to the people you designate.

But please think carefully before bequeathing a home to two people, especially two who aren’t related or married. What if your daughter needs to sell the house to raise cash and your partner doesn’t want to move? What if your partner needs to remodel the home as she ages but your daughter refuses to share in the costs? Would one have the wherewithal to buy out the other?

Another way to avoid probate would be to create a revocable living trust that allows your partner to live in the home until her death, said Los Angeles real estate attorney Burton Mitchell. The property then could be transferred to your daughter. It may not be the right solution, especially if your partner and daughter have similar life expectancies, but it’s one of many you should explore with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Image9Today’s top story: Insider tips for finding affordable long-term care insurance. Also in the news: The most affordable time of year to buy a house, states that help consumers save money on insurance, and an app that compares the prices of every ride sharing option.

5 Insider Tips for Finding Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance
Buy sooner rather than later.

The Most Affordable Time of Year to Buy a Home
Holding out until winter.

5 States That Help Consumers Get Answers, Save Money on Insurance
Do you live in one of them?

RideGuru Compares the Cost of Every Ride Sharing Option
Don’t get taken for a ride.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

retirement-savings3Today’s top story: Tax breaks and loan options to pay for college. Also in the news: Why you should buy a home after school starts, how to refinance your student loans, and how to de-stress your retirement program.

Tax Breaks and Loan Options to Pay for College
Easing the burden.

4 Reasons to Buy a Home After School Starts
Less buyer demand.

How to Refinance Your Student Loans
Getting a better deal.

How to de-stress your retirement plan
Taking a deep breath.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

1381460521Today’s top story: 7 ways to cover the cost of emergency home repairs. Also in the news: How to buy a home with a low down payment, breaking up with your credit card company, and 5 ways to save on Medicare.

7 Ways to Cover the Cost of Emergency Home Repairs
What to do when something goes kaput.

Beyond FHA Loans: How to Buy a Home With a Low Down Payment
Thinking outside the FHA box.

Are you using the wrong credit card?
Breaking up with your credit card company.

5 Ways to Save on Medicare
Mastering the Medicare maze.