Jewish World Review Sept. 25, 2000 / 24 Elul, 5760
Do we really need a will?
DEAR BRUCE: We are a young couple with two children ages 7 and 2. Recently we went to a lawyer to have a will drawn. The lawyer discouraged us from having a will and said that it would be far more practical to have a living trust, which he would set up for about $2,000. Does this seem like reasonable advice and a decent expenditure? -- N.C., Tacoma, Wash.
DEAR N.C.: If that's exactly what your lawyer said, I think he should be disbarred. Everyone needs a will. It may well be that, given your assets, which you didn't disclose to me, a living trust might be in order, but the most important consideration is that you have to name a guardian for your children should you not be here, and that is best done in a simple will. Of course you should consult the people named before you name them. If your attorney did not point this out, get another.
DEAR BRUCE: Several months ago while I was pregnant, my husband wanted to buy a mini-van. The payments are $400 a month, and since I am no longer working, this is breaking our backs. The problem is that we do need some type of transportation, but we most certainly cannot continue to afford this $400. Is there some way out for us? We did get a good price on the van because my husband works for the company that deals with the automobile manufacturer. -- L.C., Seattle
DEAR L.C.: Your last line may be your savior in that you did get a good price and you might be able to get out of this without too much blood. For a short period of time, why not buy what we used to call a "beater," an older used car that will have no class but will get you to where you want to go in a decent fashion? A couple thousand dollars will satisfy this need.
If your husband is bound and determined to have these extras, then perhaps he is willing to get a second job to pay for them. If not, the course I have mentioned here is certainly worth considering. On top of the obvious savings, you will also not have to buy collision and comprehensive for several hundred dollars a year. Remember liability insurance should be carried in large amounts on any automobile. One can do as much damage with a 20-year-old car as with a brand-new one.
DEAR BRUCE: I have a little business, and right now I am the only employee. On the advice of my attorney, I did incorporate and paid myself certain fringe benefits like hospitalization, pension, etc. Now I am at the point where I must hire some employees. My accountant tells me that I must give the same benefits to my employees that I take for myself. I'm the boss; why shouldn't I be able to decide who gets what? -- C.N., Cincinnati, Ohio
DEAR C.N.: Welcome to the real world. You may be the boss, but the IRS and the government will tell you what you must do about taxes and what you may or may not give in benefits. Essentially, the laws are passed specifically to prohibit bosses from doing what you are describing -- giving themselves all kinds of perks and not giving anything to their employees.
You are allowed to have certain hourly requirements for benefits eligibility, such as a certain number of hours per week and a certain amount of time with the company (which cannot be unreasonable). Aside from that, if you take it, you have to give it to the other employees, and that's how it should
Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).
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Yes, a contract means something
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07/03/00: When to diversify assets
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06/29/00: How social security seniors should invest
06/27/00: Waiting before re-establishing credit
06/21/00: Insuring an older car
06/19/00: Take the money and run!
06/16/00: Utility company incursion
06/15/00: Insurance settlement is no bargain
06/13/00: A straightforward form of bankruptcy
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06/05/00: Do I really need title insurance?
06/01/00: The truth about nursing home insurance
05/30/00: Keep mother-daughter loan simple
05/25/00: CDs for security, not investment
05/24/00: Battling with collection agency
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05/18/00: Building a college fund
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05/15/00: House is 'worth' what's offered
05/12/00: Borrow from Mom and Dad?
05/11/00: Your heirs, your choice
05/09/00: Mutual-fund investigations
05/05/00: Credit cards vs. debit cards
05/04/00: Lawyer are good for something
05/03/00: The binding nature of contracts
05/02/00: You know you are in trouble when ...
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04/25/00: Get a homeowner's title policy!
04/24/00: Beware of errors in your favor
04/18/00: $10,000 limit on gifts
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04/11/00: Six percent is a pittance
04/10/00: Married couples should share windfall
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04/06/00: Get genetic screening for Tay-Sachs
04/05/00: Beating the look-back period
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03/30/00: The road back to good credit
03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
03/27/00: Gambling on business ventures
03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
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03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
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03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
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03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
02/23/00: Keeping child's money safe from divorce
02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
02/14/00: Shaky partnership buying house
02/11/00: Protection by residential zoning
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02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
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12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
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11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
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10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
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09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
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09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
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