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A1. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LEAVE A MESS BEHIND III
Paying off the debts of a loved one is yet another insult to injury, or it can be an opportunity.
Sometimes people just grow old in a way that lets them sound perfectly lucid on the telephone and yet be in complete disarray at home. They can hold it together long enough to be in public for a while, or for a few minutes-enough to keep from drawing your attention. Then, when you're needed to step in, you find the finances are a mess.
You will need a copy of the applicable estate documents, durable power of attorney, or death certificate to access their accounts, depending on which state they live in.
Here are a few things to consider when going through the debts of a loved one who is unable to care for themselves, or has passed on:
This all may take a couple of days, but keep at it and you'll find you've squared it away-and likely at a lower cost than you expected.
Here are some additional resources on the subject:
The Estate Lady® offers guidance for any executor, heir, or beneficiary, sharing some of her most fascinating stories as well as helpful checklists of the things that need to be done now and at the time of your loss. If you have parents, this book is for you. The Boomer Burden gives you practical, effective steps for liquidating and distributing your parents' assets in a way that both honors them and promotes family harmony for generations to come. Get your copy here: http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm#books
The Surplus Sites, LLC, client base includes landlords/property
owners who have utilized their Estate Disposition Management Services.
Although these services have primarily been used by those who have inherited
properties that cannot be managed due to distance, lack of time or resources,
Surplus Sites, LLC can assist property owners for any reason.
For more ways to avoid leaving a mess behind, visit:
Related books may also be found at http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm
A2. THE CREDIT CARD ACT OF 2010 (CARD)
Did you see the YouTube video where Fred Wilharm, from Franklin TN sliced and diced his credit cards in "The Tennessee Credit Card Massacre"? Mr. Wilharm, a real-estate investor, had just paid off $3,000 in credit-card debt after the card issuers increased his interest rates. He said that making the video helped him deal with his anger. He's not alone. There are at least several dozen people who've posted online videos of burning, cutting, blending, shredding, and otherwise destroying their cards in response to credit-card companies' increasing rates, lowering card limits, and charging over-limit fees. The rest of us may now have a less dramatic way to deal with our anger. In May of this year President Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosures Act (CARD). This legislation requires the credit-card industry to meet agreed-upon (by the Senate and instigated by the Federal Reserve) guidelines on interest-rate hikes and consumer notifications, and for ordinary consumers it looks like a huge victory. The Senate-passed part of the Act, the stronger part, becomes entirely effective in February 2010, though parts of it become active earlier. The Fed's part of the Act doesn't become effective until July.
Of course, for the credit-card companies, it's a huge defeat. But after all, the credit-card companies are in it to make money, and they're threatening to cut reward programs to make up for the lost revenues. Rick Lieber, of The New York Times, in an article dated May 20, bets that they won't---those big spenders keep them from going into the red, at the least, and comfortably in the black, at best. He writes, citing a LoyaltyOne editorial director, "If you strip away the reward component of a credit card, it's essentially a commodity. The reward is what gives it its personality. It works…as a mechanism to influence customer behavior and consolidate spending on a particular card." And that's important to the card companies and banks; the people who run up big credit-card bills keep them in business, and so we may see yet even bigger rewards and lower interest rates for those big spenders.
Here are some of the provisions that will help protect consumers come next year:
Here are some explanations of the new regulations, which will take effect at various times during 2010, and a caveat: Please do not rely on this article for up-to-the-minute information. Do not rush to your bank waving it in the air, demanding a lower interest rate; check out (via Google or your favorite search engine) any further changes to the Act-these things happen.
However, because the Act doesn't take full effect until early next year, the credit card companies still have time to raise interest rates on existing balances for whatever reasons (or just because they want to), to apply payments to lower-interest portions of a balance and leave the higher-interest portions of the balance to incur finance charges at a higher rate, and to cut consumers' credit limits.
Card companies have already begun raising some rates in anticipation of the new rules. If you find yourself scanning the (still-small) print-another change, by the way-they'll have to make that print larger and use more readable language, here are some actions you can take.
Call the card issuer if your rate has increased to try and negotiate a lower rate, or consider transferring your balance to a lower-interest card. (http://Billshrink.com lets you see how much more you could earn in rewards or save with a lower interest rate if you switched to various other credit cards, based on your credit score and how much you spend each year.)
If you plan to pay your bill in full each month, seek out a card that provides rewards you actually want- whether that's cash back, frequent flier miles, or points redeemable for gifts. The interest rate shouldn't matter, since you won't be carrying a balance. But look for those with no annual fee. Bankrate.com and http://creditcards.com also provide comparisons of cards by the types of rewards offered, among other criteria. Generally speaking, if you plan to use your card a lot, cash-back programs may be the best bet. It's easy to get the refund-either through a check or a credit on your account-and you can use that money for anything. Many large banks also offer debit cards with rewards, so it can be worth shopping around for them, too. Creditcards.com also provides a comparison of different prepaid and debit cards, based on annual fees, related services and credit requirements.
For most people, using both a debit card and credit card makes sense. The key is not to spend more than you have with either. If you can do that, you'll be able to enjoy the benefits that each provides.
Additional financial information may be found at: http://www.seniorresource.com/finance.htm
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
1. Staying Healthy
In addition to healthy living, you can use preventive services to find health problems early and to keep you from getting certain diseases or illnesses. Preventive services include exams, lab tests, and screenings. They also include immunizations, monitoring, and information to help you take care of your own health. Medicare pays for many of these preventive services.
Medicare has published a booklet, "Your Guide to Medicare's Preventive Services," which covers both preventive services and services that help keep certain illnesses from getting worse. The services listed in this booklet are covered if you have Medicare. However, the amount you pay for these services varies depending on how you get your Medicare benefits-either through Original Medicare, or through a Medicare Advantage Plan. This booklet explains the way preventive services are covered if you have Part B under Original Medicare (sometimes called fee-for-service). If you get your healthcare coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), you will need to call your plan for more information.
Get your copy of the booklet here http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10110.pdf
Additional health information may be found at http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
2. Learning about Antidepressants
If you're suffering from depression, you need reliable, accurate information on antidepressants. Where better to turn for the most cutting-edge research on depression than Johns Hopkins, ranked #1 of America's Best Hospitals?
Get your copy of the booklet here: http://www.hopkinsreport.com/special_reports/depression/1_reg_landing.html
Additional health information may be found at http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
1. Hospice Programs
This government site provides information on hospice programs. You can learn how they work, ways you can pay for hospice care, and much more on this topic. See: http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Resources/fact_sheets/hospice_care.aspx
To find a hospice program visit our state pages where some have been identified. http://www.seniorresource.com/states.htm
2. House Exchanges
You can save hundreds on vacation travel. Because most of your vacation cost is in getting to your destination, with an exchange you save on hotels, most meals, and depending on the arrangements you make, car rentals and insurance expenses, thus, making those faraway destinations much more affordable.
There is a wide range of high-quality exchanges available. Many exchanges include cars. Some exchanges allow you to offer your motor home or caravan in a swap. There are many sites on the internet that assist with exchanges. One such site is http://www.seniorshomeexchange.com
E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
1. Zen Humor
2. Focused Education For Seniors
For more fun and jokes visit "Oh My Aging Funny Bone" at:
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Aging in Place