Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • How to avoid hiring a Madoff-like financial advisor

    How to avoid hiring a Madoff-like financial advisor

    Dear Liz: What is the best way to pick a financial advisor to make sure they don't make off with all your retirement money? I don't want Bernie Madoff handling my retirement savings. Answer: Even if you turn over day-to-day investment decisions to an advisor, you should make sure your money is...

  • How to improve your spouse's chances of a well-funded retirement

    How to improve your spouse's chances of a well-funded retirement

    Three key decisions about retirement benefits can help couples make their money last — or dramatically increase the chances that the survivor will end up old and broke. Widowed women are twice as likely as their male counterparts to live in poverty during retirement, according to a March study by...

  • How to get rid of home-equity loan headaches

    How to get rid of home-equity loan headaches

    Dear Liz: We have taken several withdrawals from our home equity line of credit. Now the balance is close to $100,000. It’s the interest-only type. We don’t know how to pay off this amount systematically. Can you help? Answer: As you’ve discovered, it’s not a good idea to pledge your home as collateral...

  • Getting a new mortgage after a foreclosure

    Getting a new mortgage after a foreclosure

    Dear Liz: Is it true that we can't refinance our home until seven years after a foreclosure? We lost a rental property six years ago. Our credit scores now are in the 740 range, and we are anxious to take advantage of lower rates since our mortgage rate is 5.75%. Other than the foreclosure, our...

  • Factors to consider for refinancing into a 15-year mortgage

    Factors to consider for refinancing into a 15-year mortgage

    Dear Liz: I am considering refinancing my home from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan and wondered if it would be a wise decision. I am 57, divorced and make a little over $100,000 a year as a high school teacher (and I plan to keep working until at least age 65). Other than a car loan, I have...

  • 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...

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