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Tag Archives: Advice

Entering data into your program

Today we explore the basics of genealogy software. We need a place to store, organize and reproduce the work we have done. Using pencil and paper can get complicated and messy, and unless you have a Xerox machine in your house, it’s hard to make copies for anyone. We talked about the basics of using genealogy software in the last column and most genealogy software programs are pretty similar. Each one does specific tasks that differ and the screens don’t look alike, but for the basics the screens are pretty close. I will use Family Tree Maker as my example ...

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Looking for a rental?

With everything that has gone on with the real estate market over the past few years, the rental market has become more appealing than ever. According to some national studies, rental prices have risen about 14 percent over last year. As a result, it can be tough to locate the right property at the right price. Many areas have a low supply of available rentals, driving up the price for potential tenants. With the average rental property staying on the market for only a couple of hours, you have to be competitive. Don’t wait until the weekend to look at ...

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Tagging tricks

A few columns ago, I wrote about my project to tag everyone in my family photos. Since I have been researching my family history for 25 years, and have scanned the photo collections of many relatives, I have over 23,000 photos to tag. If it’s any surprise, yes I am still working on this project after all these months. I have a few new items to present to those of you who might have thought about starting this project with your own photos. Believe me I am not discouraging anyone from starting the project, even though it is taking months ...

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Lowering the standards

So far 2014 has been an interesting year for the mortgage business. We are seeing approximately 60 percent less in refinancing originations. And while purchase mortgages (those originated when someone buys a home) have been steady, they are not taking place at the same blazing hot pace that we were seeing last year. It is for these reasons that we are hearing a lot of talk that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA may be lowering some of their credit standards to improve mortgage originations. Some lenders have already started lowering their credit score requirement for loans. The criteria for ...

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Avoiding the pitfalls of ‘portability’

In the parlance of estate planning, “portability” refers to the ability to transfer unused estate tax exemption of a deceased spouse over to the surviving spouse, who can then add it to his or her own exemption. By doing this, it may be possible for the surviving spouse to use those accumulated exemptions decades later to shield assets from the state tax at his or her death. But portability is not a magic bullet, and there are risks if you don’t plan ahead. You need to be aware of the following limitations: 1) Portability does not apply to state death ...

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The nine things everyone must know

As we begin our New Year, now is a great time to make sure you have your estate planning and long-term care planning affairs in order. The following are the nine things everyone must know: 1) The 3 Phases of Life There are 3 phases of life, and each phase requires different kind of planning. First are the Maturing Years. Second are the Senior Years. And finally, are the Post-Death Years. 2) How Health Care Reform Affects You In 2014, Medicaid will be opened to all people that do not have health insurance and whose income is up to 133 ...

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A cemetery survival guide

Last month was spent planning an all-day cemetery trip to visit those relatives who were not as close to you during your lifetime, if at all. We decided who to look for, found the grave locations from the cemetery kiosk or by calling the cemetery directly. If that printout from the kiosk did not have a section map, then you will need to stop at the cemetery office to get some help. I do not suggest just wandering around the section until you find the grave, unless you enjoy doing that. There are some clues in the sections themselves. If ...

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Be ready!

As a mortgage professional, I work with many real estate agents who refer clients to me. I also have many past clients who are now looking to buy a bigger home, or they have someone in their family who they have referred me who is looking to buy a home for the very first time. Everyone’s telling me the same thing: Properties that are priced right are selling very quickly, sometimes even within hours. My real estate partners are telling me that there is a lack of inventory right now, which can lead to bidding wars on properties, leaving many ...

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Flying solo

You’re single and looking to purchase your first property. There are many factors to explore beyond the obvious considerations of cost. You will, of course, able to afford the maintenance of a single-family home? Will the association fee of a condominium or town home cover exterior maintenance? But wait, there’s more. First off, you need to decide what type of property will meet your current and future needs. Do you need a single family home or will a condominium or town home do? How many extra rooms are you looking for? Will you need a home office or maybe a ...

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A major change in estate planning!

All of a sudden everybody wants a taxable estate! Why? Because income tax relief is now preferred over estate tax relief. We are witnessing a sea change in tax planning due to two new developments: 1) The new “portability” of the estate tax exemption for our clients. The concept of portability allows the surviving spouse (widows and widowers) to carry over the estate tax exemption of the spouse who died and add it to their own exemption amount. However, to take advantage of this action you must “elect portability.” This means your executor, with the assistance of estate tax counsel, ...

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