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Still working? Check your tax withholdings

One great result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is that most people see money in their paychecks, because less is being withheld. Our standard deductions have nearly doubled, and the tax rates have dipped. Those are good things. But the personal and...

 

Remember to tell Social Security you've moved

If you receive Social Security and/or Medicare, make sure you inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) when you move. That’s especially important now while the SSA is mailing out new Medicare cards. Even though the Internet is a virtual...

 

Your Social Security questions answered by the experts

Staff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times in June: Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (June 12 and 26), 9 a.m. to noon....

 

With estate planning, you gotta know the territory

You can bicker, bicker, bicker You can talk, you can talk You can talk all you wanna But it’s different than it was. I love a good musical, and one of my favorites is The Music Man. And the...

 

An attorney is the guardian of a person's voice in court

Adult guardianship cases are kind of a big deal. And sometimes, they’re difficult. On one side you have the Respondent. This is typically someone who has some kind of dementia, mental health issue,...

 

Five things to know about deposit boxes and home safes

Over time, your valuables change, and so do your options to protect them. Here are a few choices, including safe deposit boxes and home safes, along with suggestions on how to assess each option for your specific needs. 1) Think about what should or...

 

That lawyer stuff at the end of the will

When you last signed a will, you might have noticed that after the main part of it, there was a bunch of added legal stuff. This is about that all-important added legal stuff. (Wait, you have signed a...

 

The nuts and bolts of Section 529 College Savings Plans

A good education is getting harder to come by, and that’s true not just for college but starting in kindergarten. If you are looking to help ensure your grandkids get a quality education, you might consider opening a 529 plan. If protecting your in...

 

The patient, the surrogate and the pulled plug

This is a subject which, for a lot of people, is going to touch on some very personal, and perhaps painful, circumstances. Some years back, I was involved in a case involving termination of life...

 

The new tax laws: Less of the same

Last month, I promised that I would cover the estate planning consequences of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” in this month’s column. At the time that previous column was due, the final version of...

 

Social Security options for divorced spouses

Dear Savvy Senior: As a divorced woman, am I entitled to my ex-husband’s Social Security benefits? I was married for 14 years and would like to know how this works. - Happily Divorced Dear Divorced: Yes, you may very well be eligible for divorced...

 

Old Blue Eyes did it his way (the right way)

I was hoping this month's column would be about the changes to the tax code and how that effects estate planning. No such luck -- the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is still pending in Congress, subject to...

 

A little problem with a common form

Forms can be helpful. And dangerous. Back in the days when I did a lot of trial work, I encouraged the court system to develop forms that people could use for simple matters. I saw a lot of folks who...

 

Come not between the dragon and his Roth

I really wish they hadn’t called it an IRA. Back in 1997, a senator named William Roth pushed through a law which allowed for a different type of retirement account. Up until then, if you wanted to...

 

Ever wished you could work from home?

It used to be a rare thing to meet someone who worked from home and actually made a decent income. Some people say they could never do it. They’re not self-starters. They can’t deal with the distractions. They’d feel like they were always at...

 

What we can learn from cracked ribs

Let me tell you a story. I promise I will eventually flounder my way to a relevant point. A few years back, on a cold winter day, I was out walking my dogs. At one point the boy dog suddenly began...

 

What's mine is mine, what's yours is ours

Remember 1987? If you lived here in Alaska, you might remember that it was the absolute nadir of the recession. Oil prices had dropped, jobs had gone away, houses had been abandoned. Generally...

 

Trust me, it ain't a trust if it ain't a trust

“I’m just gonna leave everything to Bubba,” says the gent across from me. “That's certainly doable,” I tell him. “But what's the reason you’re disinheriting your other kids?” “I’m...

 

The unexpected grandchild and your will

I grew up in the '70s. Back then, young people tended to sow their wild oats fairly indiscriminately. Sometimes, one of those wild oats sprouted. Those of you with grayer hair than mine, or at least...

 

Can a debt collector take your benefits directly out of your bank account?

Suppose a debt collector sues you and wins a judgment. It may get a court order to garnish money from your account or benefits received by prepaid card. But the U.S. Department of Treasury requires banks to automatically protect certain federal benef...

 

Those Flowers for Algernon moments

I am going to begin this column with more than just a spoiler alert. If you have never read the short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, put down this paper immediately. Go buy it, or...

 

Medicaid and Medicare: Same thing?

You like potato, I like potahto You like tomato, I like tomahto Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto Let’s call the whole thing off! The point the Gershwin brothers were making, I take it, was that...

 

New estimates on savings needed for health care in retirement

New research from the Employment Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) updates previous estimates of how much money Medicare beneficiaries are projected to need to cover health expenses in retirement, including premiums for Medicare Parts B and D, premiu...

 

Smaller sized estates may still require probate

Here’s another question I am asked regularly: how small does an estate have to be before it does not have to go through probate? Back when I was starting out, and in fact for quite a few years after...

 

Learn from this late actor's mistakes

If you go to the movies very often, you might have heard of an actor named Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was quite a talented character actor, he even won an Oscar for portraying Truman Capote, and he...

 

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