Sunday, November 6, 2011

Many seek advice from financial experts

“How can I earn $1 million over the next month?”

OK, that question didn’t pop up during a free financial-advice event sponsored by The Arizona Republic, but readers did pose hundreds of other queries on money topics.

Local certified financial planners, certified public accountants and Internal Revenue Service officials answered questions over the telephone and Internet for two hours Wednesday.

Here are some of the queries that were posted on the Money section of Some questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Question: Three investment accounts totaling about $150,000 plus my house comprise my entire estate. The house is deeded as community property with right of survivorship, and the investment accounts have my wife listed as beneficiary.

When I die, are these accounts and the home still subject to probate or can they pass to my wife without legal complication? Is a will necessary? — John Clark

Answer: It sounds like you have set things up appropriately, as they will not have to go through probate. I would still recommend a will to cover anything else you might have, (but the will has) no impact on the assets you reference. — David Daughtrey, Copperwynd Financial

Q: Can I buy an annuity within my IRA? — Dick Kidney

A: Yes, but you need to think about why you are doing it. An IRA already has tax deferral. — Daughtrey

Q: I am a retired teacher struggling to live on my pension. I am supplementing my income by tutoring. I can collect (Social Security) in two years, and I believe I will be able to live comfortably without using any money I have saved in my Roth or (other retirement) accounts. I have $26,000 in a money market (account). Should I take $8,000 of that to pay off my car loan? The interest rate on my loan is 5.5 percent. I will be 60 next month, so I can tap my (retirement) accounts without penalty. — Pam

A: It sounds like paying off the loan might be a good idea for you, particularly if you are uncomfortable with the debt. I would only do so if you have other funds available in case of an emergency. (Because) you are over 59 ½ and able to tap your retirement accounts if needed, you should be OK. — Kimberly Bridges, Stoker Ostler Wealth Advisors

Q: Our house foreclosed in April 2009. Since then we have had a significant increase in income and have not taken on any new debt. Is there a long waiting period before we would be able to qualify for a new mortgage? — Tiffany

A: Negative marks stay on your credit report for seven years. Bankruptcy stays for 10 years. You may find a bank that will lend to you before it clears, but expect to pay higher interest rates. — Bridges

Q: I need advice on paying off credit-card debt — $30,000 on two cards. The interest rates are high, so even though I am paying twice the monthly minimum due, the principle doesn't seem to budge. I have good credit and no late or missing payments. I would like credit-card companies to work with me to lower the interest rates. — Ccard

A: It sounds like you are paying interest only, which is why the principle isn't changing. Consider contacting Take Charge America, a (Phoenix) non-profit that helps people with credit-card debt. You also might consider getting a loan from another source at a lower rate and using the funds to pay off the high-interest cards.

Also, consider calling the card companies to see if they will work with you to reduce the rate or write down the amount owed. — Armando Roman, Axiom Financial Advisory

by Russ Wiles The Arizona Republic Nov. 4, 2011 03:23 PM

Many seek advice from financial experts

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