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Jul 5, 2011
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Life insurance: Will your heirs get what you’ve paid for?

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Gotta love those life insurance companies.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, some of them will scour state mortality lists to make sure they aren’t paying out any lifetime benefits (such as from annuities) to people who have died. But they won’t bother to check those lists for life insurance policyholders whose beneficiaries may have some money coming to them.

“That’s not their job,” said fee-only insurance consultant Peter Katt. “It’s in their business interest to avoid paying death claims.”

Jul 1, 2011
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Retirement solvency “a growing challenge” says GAO

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The risk that retirees will outlive their assets is a growing challenge, the federal Government Accountability Office said in a not-so-newsy report released on Friday. To meet that challenge, experts advise retirees to delay the start of their Social Security benefits, avoid spending down their nest eggs too fast and consider using annuities in some situations, says the study.

The report could be used to nudge forward policy initiatives already under consideration that would encourage companies to offer annuity choices to their retiring workers. The report was requested by Senator Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He has cosponsored a bill, called the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, that would require 401(k) statements to include an annuity equivalent number — the amount of monthly income that the savings accumulated would support.

Jun 29, 2011
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Poll: Should debt deal include tax hikes for the wealthy?

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President Obama took aim at tax breaks for the wealthy at his press conference today, saying, “You can afford it. You’ll still be able to ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to pay a little more.”

Ooh, snap!

Obama singled out oil and gas subsidies “for oil companies that are making money hand-over-fist” and “wealthy” CEOs and hedge fund managers. He predicted that Republican anti-tax legislators would eventually have to come around and accept some tax increases as part of a big budget-cutting/debt-ceiling-hiking compromise package. The Administration has said the U.S. would not be able to meet all of its obligations if the federal debt ceiling isn’t increased by August 2.

Jun 29, 2011

Stern Advice: Negotiating retirement with your spouse

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – You would think that after a few decades of marriage, raising kids and going through the ups and downs of life together, retirement would be a cakewalk for couples. But you’d be wrong.

Spouses who have managed to negotiate a lifetime of decisions together are finding that their well-oiled partnership machine may break down when they face those post-career issues.

Jun 28, 2011
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Best banks and cards for changing dollars to Euros: Study

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If you’re planning a hop across the pond this summer, think carefully about how you’re going to convert your dollars into Euros. Doing it the wrong way could cost you almost 15 cents of every dollar you exchange, according to a new study by Card Hub, a web-based comparison site.

The best way to convert money now is with your credit card; especially if the card is a Visa with no additional currency conversion fee, the study said. Visa was offering the best exchange rates today, at $1.42 per euro.  Next closest was MasterCard cards, offering Euros for $1.43.

Jun 23, 2011
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Mortgage Poll: Are strategic defaults ethical?

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I know a guy — let’s call him Fred — who has a plan for walking away from his home and the $400,000 mortgage on it.

Fred lives in Phoenix, one of those particularly hard hit real estate markets in a state that prohibits banks from coming after borrowers for additional money once a home has gone into foreclosure. The home he bought for more than $400,000 is now worth about $225,000, by his estimates. He’s saved up quite a bit of money and can keep making the payments. But he’s nearing retirement, and figures that, the way he’s going, he’ll never have home equity.

Jun 22, 2011

Mortgage-skippers may have second home lined up: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – So-called strategic defaulters who voluntarily stop making their mortgage payments are very savvy financially and sometimes line up their next home and loan before they walk, according to a new study.

“They are high income, they are high wealth, they own multiple homes, they have higher … (credit) scores and they are very financially savvy,” said Tracy Bremmer, director of product marketing and management at Experian, the credit reporting agency that issued the study. Reuters obtained a copy in advance of its distribution.

Jun 22, 2011

Mortgage-skippers may have 2nd home lined up-study

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – So-called strategic
defaulters who voluntarily stop making their mortgage payments
are very savvy financially and sometimes line up their next
home and loan before they walk, according to a new study.

“They are high income, they are high wealth, they own
multiple homes, they have higher … (credit) scores and they
are very financially savvy,” said Tracy Bremmer, director of
product marketing and management at Experian, the credit
reporting agency that issued the study. Reuters obtained a copy
in advance of its distribution.

Jun 22, 2011

Stern Advice: Early retiree health care mess may improve

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – Try being over 50 and
finding health insurance in the open market.

Even if you’re in tip-top health, you can expect to pay
three times as much for coverage as a younger person. And with
everything from high blood pressure to a trick knee seen as a
disqualifying pre-existing condition, you may not even qualify
for that rate.

Jun 16, 2011
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Will ING customers stay happy with CapOne accounts?

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ING Direct customers seem to love their online-only bank, and reports that it may soon be taken over by Capital One Financial Corp. have a few of them worried.

The tenor of reaction comments posted on The Consumerist web site ranged from “I’m sad” and “Noooooooooo…” to unprintable epithets. ING has won a following with competitively high interest rates on savings and checking, and no-fee checking accounts. And CapOne drew complaints from some discontented customers of Bethesda, Maryland-based Chevy Chase Bank after it took over that Washington-area institution.

    • About Linda

      "Linda Stern is an award-winning personal finance journalist who loves to write about how the big picture affects your pocketbook. A former contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and a long-time Reuters columnist, Stern covers everything from credit cards to retirement planning to investing. As a Washington-based correspondent, she sneaks in as much tax and economic policy as her editors will allow. She tweets at www.twitter.com/LindaStern. And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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