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Liz Weston

Columnist Money Talk

Recent Articles

  • 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...

  • Money Talk: How to structure an inheritance for a spendthrift heir

    Money Talk: How to structure an inheritance for a spendthrift heir

    Dear Liz: My financially illiterate, almost 50-year-old son will be living off his inheritance when I die. A good part of his life was spent drifting, so I have no idea if he will receive Social Security or how much. How do I structure his inheritance so that he won't fritter it all away in a short...

  • Spreading out the tax hit from capital gains

    Spreading out the tax hit from capital gains

    Dear Liz: We are in the lowest tax bracket. If we sell a capital gains asset worth several hundred thousand dollars, does that put us in a higher bracket and we pay 20% or do we remain in the lower bracket and pay 15%?  Answer: In the two lowest federal income tax brackets, the capital gains rate...

  • How to negotiate the medical bill maze in search of a better deal

    How to negotiate the medical bill maze in search of a better deal

    Dear Liz: My husband and I have run into some serious medical bills recently. We have insurance, but one provider is out of network with a huge deductible and low payout, while another claim was flat-out denied. We're looking at around $16,000 in bills, assuming nothing else is denied. What can...

  • Your one true credit score doesn't exist: There are several

    Your one true credit score doesn't exist: There are several

    Dear Liz: I've been using a free credit site to learn more about credit reports and credit scores. Recently I looked around and found reviews about how "horribly inaccurate" these free scores are. Where can I go to find my real FICO credit scores? I need the ones that matter, the ones that lenders...

  • MONEY TALK: Retirement calculators are a wake-up call for undersavers

    MONEY TALK: Retirement calculators are a wake-up call for undersavers

    Dear Liz: Are retirement calculators a hoax? It seems that the published estimates for the amount of savings required are insanely high.  If most U.S. citizens haven't saved much and have a decent standard of living in retirement, where is the misperception? Let's say an individual is resolved...

  • The pitfalls of renting a house to relatives

    The pitfalls of renting a house to relatives

    Dear Liz: My son and his family are having trouble with money. I see him stepping up since he had my lovely granddaughter. I am getting ready to retire from teaching. I have my teacher's retirement and a nest egg set aside. I was thinking of buying him a place where he could pay me rent and when...

  • Co-signing for a student loan backfires

    Co-signing for a student loan backfires

    Dear Liz: My wife and I both had excellent credit scores. Now mine are in the dump. I co-signed for a friend's daughter's school loan 10 years ago. I know now this was a bad mistake. I guaranteed $25,000. Now two things have happened: The daughter quit paying the loan and the friendship took a...

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