Financial Empowerment

November 2017

Should You Be an Executor?

Have you been approached by a relative or a friend to be the executor of his or her will? For that matter, have you chosen an executor for your own will? Do you know what an executor does? Being asked to be an executor may seem like an honor, but if you accept, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed by your responsibilities when the person who appointed you dies. To find out what the duties of executor are and whether or not it is a good idea to be one, we spoke over Skype with Gregg Wind, a Los Angeles, California, CPA.

October 2017

Discuss Your Finances Before the Wedding

Getting married. What a joyful time for most couples. But after the honeymoon, reality sets in. There are bills to pay and budgets to set. Do you know that according to a Harris Interactive survey, married couples spend more time arguing over financial issues than any other topic. Perhaps many of these arguments could have been avoided had the couple only discussed how each views money before they exchanged vows. At least that’s the opinion of Johanna Sweaney Salt, a Claremont, California, CPA. 

Protecting Your Credit Information

We are increasingly becoming a cashless society. We use credit cards for everything from paying for parking at a street meter to buying major appliances. Criminals are eager to get their hands on credit cards and other financially valuable information, such as Social Security numbers. Not only do they steal credit cards; they attempt to hack into information stored online by banks and other financial institutions. This past summer a major news story was the tapping of the financial information of about 143 million people stored in the digital files of Equifax, one of the nation,s three credit reporting services. What’s a person to do to keep his or her credit secure? We asked CPA and personal financial specialist Michael Eisenberg for some tips. 

July 2017

Making Charitable Donations Count

You’ve likely donated money, goods or your time to a charity such as a church, an environmental group, a disease fighter or a community service organization such as Goodwill. Have you checked to make sure that the charities you donate to are legitimate and that you can take an appropriate deduction on your income taxes? We covered this and other questions regarding charitable donations with Scott Donnelly, a Torrance, California, CPA.

May 2017

Breaking Bank of Mom & Dad

According to a recent Pew survey, almost a third of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are still living with their parents. That’s the highest percentage since 1880. Many if not most of these young adults not only depend on their parents for housing but also for financial support in other areas such as car payments and vacation expenses. We asked Costa Mesa CPA Janet Krochman how to break the habit of withdrawing from the Bank of Mom and Dad. 

April 2017

Cutting Hospital Expenses

According to the federal government website HealthCare.gov, the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is about $30,000. Yikes! Just repairing a broken leg can cost $7,500. Ouch! And we’re not even talking about all the expenses associated with cancer treatments or other diseases that require long stays in a hospital. How can a patient keep his or her costs down? Larry Pon, a Redwood City CPA, shares his advice on how to rein in those expenses. We spoke with him over Skype.

March 2017

Making Family Businesses Successful

According to one source, family-owned businesses represent more than 80 percent of the businesses in North America. Another source indicates that such businesses are responsible for 64 percent of the United States gross domestic product and create 78 percent of all new jobs. Clearly, family-owned businesses are a vital portion of the nation’s economy. Nevertheless, family-owned businesses, by their very nature, have problems that other businesses don’t. San Jose CPA Dan Morris, who advises several family-owned businesses, talked to us over Skype about some of the problems they might encounter and what they can do to resolve them.

It's Not Too Early for Millennials to Prepare for Retirement

Millennials—according to demographers—are roughly those individuals born between 1982 and 2002. Most millennials will spend between 40 and 50 years in the workforce before retiring. But if they want to enjoy a retirement with minimal financial worries, they would be wise to start setting money aside now on a regular basis for their retirement. CPA and personal financial specialist Rob Seltzer of Los Angeles explains why millennials who invest early and regularly will likely have a happier retirement than those who don’t.

February 2017

Controlling Retiree Medical Expenses

According to the Society of Actuaries, if you are a 65-year-old man, you have a 50 percent chance of reaching the age of 86. Half of women will survive until the age of 88. Regardless, Americans are living longer. And they are finding that their retirement years can be costly, particularly regarding health care expenses. HealthView Services, an organization that produces health projection software, estimates that the average couple retiring at age 65 will have $377,000 in health care costs through their remainder of life. We spoke with CPA and personal financial specialist David George of Irvine, California, regarding how retirees can prepare for the medical costs they may cope with in their golden years. 

Stymie Tax & Financial Scams

Tax season is underway. Financial fraudsters love this time of the year. They have a number of scams designed to make money off of unwary taxpayers. For example, they may impersonate legitimate tax preparers. Or they may phone you and say that they are from the IRS and that they need your credit card number. We spoke over Skype with forensic accountant and CPA Ernie Cooper of Los Angeles about how you can minimize becoming a victim of tax and other financial scams. Ernie is a former FBI agent with 20 years of experience fighting bank robbers and white-collar criminals.

January 2017

Why You Need a Trust

How would you like your assets to be distributed upon your death? If you have just a will, your wishes will become a part of the public record and will incur probate charges. If you put your assets in a living trust, however, you will still have control over them while you are alive but their distribution will not be subject to probate upon your death, and they will not become part of the public record. We spoke over Skype with Julie Malekhedayat, a San Jose CPA and a member of CalCPA’s estate planning committee, regarding the benefits of creating a trust.