Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • How to improve your credit scores

    How to improve your credit scores

    Dear Liz: I don’t have a credit score. I have one item on my credit report that’s a court judgment. What can I do to get a score? If I pay the balance due for the judgment, would it be removed? Answer: Paying a judgment doesn’t remove it from your credit reports, but it does limit the amount of...

  • How to handle money disputes after a death in the family

    How to handle money disputes after a death in the family

    Dear Liz: My son recently died. His girlfriend, who lived with him, said he told he would take care of her for the rest of her life. There's nothing in writing that says this. She has his debit card and is using it. I am not sure, but I thought if a family member dies, the money in the person's...

  • Does Social Security pay survivor benefits in same-sex unions?

    Does Social Security pay survivor benefits in same-sex unions?

    Dear Liz: I am 65 and was recently laid off after 26 years with the same company. My life partner of 25 years died in 2010. We had been legally married in 2008. I'd like to wait until I'm 70 to collect my Social Security. Is there any way I can collect her Social Security until then? I don't know...

  • How does a lottery winner find a financial advisor she can trust?

    How does a lottery winner find a financial advisor she can trust?

    Dear Liz: I'm a middle-aged, single, childless woman who won a very nice lottery prize. I took the "cash value" option and after paying federal tax, I was left with $1.2 million. I would like to pay cash for a home, have a tidy nest egg put aside and have money for travel and other occasional luxuries....

  • Money Talk: How to make sure your money-distribution wishes are followed after you die

    Money Talk: How to make sure your money-distribution wishes are followed after you die

    Dear Liz: My first husband died when my oldest child was 1. I remarried and had another child (they’re 5 and 3 now). My husband and I prepared a trust in which I have him and my sister as beneficiaries of my assets. But my husband regrets that he is not the only beneficiary. My argument is that...

  • How to get out from under high brokerage fees

    How to get out from under high brokerage fees

    Dear Liz: I have two accounts at a full-service brokerage. One is an inherited IRA and the other is a Roth IRA that I opened. Both have a mix of stocks and mutual funds that I chose. My accounts have done well, but I am not happy with the commissions that my brokerage charges when I trade, which...

  • Here are some tips for divvying up your retirement investments

    Here are some tips for divvying up your retirement investments

    Dear Liz: With all the investment options offered in 401(k) plans, how as a contributor do I know where to place my money? Answer: Too many investment options can confuse contributors and lower participation rates, according to a study by social psychologist Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University...

  • How long should you keep paperwork about an estate?

    How long should you keep paperwork about an estate?

    Dear Liz: My mother-in-law died 11 years ago and had money everywhere. Thus, I have five drawers full of paperwork. With the exception of the IRS documents, I would love to throw everything out (shredded, of course). How long do I need the paperwork? Answer: Two of the biggest risks to a settled...

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