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Sure, you can write your own will. But why would you?

By MSN Money Partner Jul 15, 2014 1:59PM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAs any financial adviser worth their salt will tell you, having a will is mandatory, no matter your age or net worth.

Will © Image Source Pink/JupiterimagesA will doesn't have to cost a lot. But this week's reader question is from someone who would rather pay nothing by simply writing a will on a piece of paper.

I have received various answers to this question, Stacy. Can you tell me if I can write my own will (my permanent address is in Florida), and if so, have it witnessed and should it be notarized?
Also, can you give me a source to properly know why a power of attorney is necessary even if one is not incapacitated -- or perhaps you can give me an answer to that. I have been told I should have one, but keep it in a safe place. Why? And that it is automatically invalid when I die and my will takes over. -- J

Can you write your own will?

When you die, your estate is born. The person in charge of your estate, known as the executor or administrator, will be given the authority to dispose of your remains according to your wishes, distribute your money and possessions, and provide for the care of any minor children you leave behind.

How does the executor get named and know what to do with your body, possessions and children? It's all spelled out in your will. If you die without one, these decisions will still be made. They'll just be made by a court instead of you.

There are several ways to get a will.


Don't get caught up in a financial scam when you're on vacation.

By Jul 15, 2014 1:34PM
This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site on MSN MoneyWhen you check into a hotel, don't set let scam artists or misbehaving companies check into your wallet. It's summer travel season, and that means vacations, road trips and hotel stays.

It also means you'll be facing a minefield of gotchas. So don't let your healthy skepticism go on vacation when you do.

Hotel maid © Simon Jarratt/CorbisThere's ripoffs, and there's sneaky fees, but to your wallet, they are the same thing. Together, I call them all "gotchas." So before you pack your bags, here's a quick reminder of what to watch out for the next time you check into a hotel.

The Federal Trade Commission just published a list of "hazards" consumers can face at hotels. These identity theft-related scams are a good place to start.


Some hospitals are using patients' credit card data to identify patients at risk for poor health.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 15, 2014 1:26PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyCanceled your gym membership? Bought a few packs of cigarettes? It appears your doctor may be privy to these types of unhealthy activity choices, even if you didn't disclose them yourself.

According to Bloomberg, a number of hospitals are using detailed consumer data reports to develop patient profiles in an effort to identify those at risk of getting sick, so they can step in before it happens.

Medical doctor © Sean Justice/Corbis"Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke," Bloomberg said.

In other words, the doughnut and soda you routinely have for breakfast may not be as secret as you think.

A hospital chain in the Carolinas is already compiling data for millions of people, trying to identify high-risk patients.

But many Americans are worried that health care's embrace of consumer data mining is an invasion of privacy. There are concerns over its impact on doctor-patient relationships.


Medical bills can cause a financial pile-up months after you are in a car wreck.

By Jul 15, 2014 11:18AM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyImagine you’ve been in a car accident. You have health insurance as well as coverage for medical bills through your auto insurance -- or through the policy of the person who was at fault -- so you aren’t worried about the bills. But to your shock, you find out months later that some of your medical bills have been turned over to collections and your credit has been damaged.

Car Accident © Stockdisc, CorbisHow can that happen?

There are several reasons why this scenario -- which is not uncommon, unfortunately -- occurs. The first is that auto insurers typically don’t pay medical bills as you incur them, but rather wait until all the bills related to the accident come in. In the meantime, your health care providers don’t want to wait months -- or even years -- for your claim to be paid. Unpaid balances are turned over to a collection agency.

The second is that medical providers are often reluctant to bill your health insurance, which may pay negotiated rates that are less lucrative than payments from an auto insurance settlement.


Tip: Pay close attention to your child-support guidelines, and don't miss a payment if you can avoid it.

By Jul 14, 2014 2:21PM
This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site on MSN MoneyWhen parents fall behind on their child support payments, they may be surprised to learn those delinquent payments can appear on their credit reports. What does that mean for their credit scores? A reader asks:

I recently pulled my reports and was shocked to see the State of MO is listing my child support in arrears when it is not. I pay it regularly. Is that harming my credit?

Wedding cake © Mike Kemp/JupiterimagesFirst, it’s important to understand why and how child support appears on credit reports. "Child support is generally reported as a tradeline," says Equifax Senior Director of Public Relations Meredith Griffanti. "It is reported directly from the municipality/agency collecting the debt."

In fact, this reporting is mandated under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, which requires "states to report periodically to consumer reporting agencies . . . the name of any noncustodial parent who is delinquent in the payment of child support and the amount of overdue support owed by such parent."

There are procedures in place to try to ensure that this information is accurate.


Looking to save money fast? Survey shows where the big savings are: Car insurance and cellphones.

By QuinStreet Jul 14, 2014 2:09PM

This post comes from Donna Freedman at partner site on MSN MoneyWhen someone asks me how to take control of his finances, I don't advise that he bake his own bread.

Man holding stopwatch © Keith Leighton/Alamy
Yet those are the sorts of tips you tend to get when Googling "how to save money." You’ll save money, but probably not as much as you'd think. And you’ll find these tactics can take time away from everything else you need or want to do.

I suggest instead that people think first about the big-ticket items. Results of a new survey from back me up.

The insurance comparison-shopping site asked 2,000 adults about how much time they spent on five big purchases and how much they saved, then ranked their potential bang for the buck. For example, the typical amount of time spent researching and shopping for a new car was 13.6 hours and the amount saved $1,054 – which works out to about $1.29 a minute.


A new Kaiser Family Foundation tool shows the harsh reality of trying to shift more Medicare costs to already-strapped seniors.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 14, 2014 1:40PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you think seniors can afford to pay more for Medicare, let's take another look at that thought.

Why is this important? House Republicans have been calling for an end to traditional Medicare, instead favoring a voucher program where seniors pay for private plans. The latest proposal would give seniors a choice of using a government subsidy to either buy private insurance or pay for Medicare premiums in 2024.

Medical doctor © Creatas/SuperStockMany believe a subsidy program would shift more health care costs to seniors over time. Also, if new retirees picked private insurance, traditional Medicare would become much more expensive for those who continued to use it because they'd likely be older and in poorer health.

"The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this effect could boost traditional Medicare premiums 50 percent by 2020 compared with current projections," Reuters said.

Seniors covered by Medicare are already paying for a chunk of their health care costs.


Some job seekers have tried over-the-top methods, like billboards and mailed shoes, to get noticed by potential employers. You don't need to be so unorthodox to get the job you want.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 14, 2014 12:19PM

This post comes from Victoria Hudson at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyT.S. Eliot's beleaguered J. Alfred Prufrock laments that his life is measured out in coffee spoons. His disillusionment reminds me of the online job hunting experience. Search … click … repeat.

At least Prufrock had a cup of joe to show for it. There's nothing more disheartening than submitting dozens of resumes, only to hear the same thing over and over, which is to say, nothing.

Resume © Dynamic Graphics, age fotostockSo why are you being ignored? The Wall Street Journal points to a report by CEB that says, "Companies received an average of 383 applications for every job opening they advertised in 2013."

That's a whole lot of clicks.

In an attempt to thwart the competition, some job seekers have responded with over-the-top schemes. You may have heard about the applicant who delivered his resume via stuffed carrier pigeon. Other job seekers have rented billboards. One woman even mailed her shoe to a prospective employer (to get her "foot in the door").

These outrageous plots sometimes work, but they are no substitute for the hard-and-fast rules of job seeking, such as doing your research, networking and reaching out to multiple employers.

That being said, it's sometimes necessary to step outside your comfort zone in today's crowded job market. So how do you stand out among the masses?



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