Home for the holidays, time to have The Talk: get the new year off to a good start

December 29, 2015

ChristmasDinner-holidaysAs the family gathered for Christmas, I finally had The Talk with my Favorite Nephew who was home from college.

This talk was about being smart and taking steps to protect himself.  We sat down with his laptop and I started by asking if he’d ever checked his credit report.

First, I sent him to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) website and showed him how to get his free credit report (see the link on the right side of that page).  I cautioned him to always start from that page to ensure he was getting the truly free credit report and not a faux one that shows up when using a search engine.

Next, we talked about what a credit report shows and how good credit can be critical for employers, landlords, and making larger purchases as we worked through the process of getting his credit report.  He gets one free report from each of the three credit bureaus each year.  He chose the Equifax one.  I had him put “Equifax credit check” on his electronic calendar for each 12-28 and set it up as a recurring event each year.  Then on April 28, he set up “Experian credit check” and on August 28 was “Transunion credit check.”  Now he’ll get annual reminders to check each credit bureau on a staggered basis.  If there’s an issue with his credit report, he’ll find out quickly and can fix it before he needs to use his credit.  Fortunately his was pristinely clean.

We also talked about his student ID or driver’s license being lost or stolen and reporting it to the police and also the FTC. Identity theft doesn’t start with the use of your identity, but someone improperly possessing your ID.  My Favorite Nephew got to hear about a client who soon after arriving at college had both stolen from his dorm room.  He quickly got his student ID replaced so he could eat, but the university did not advise him to make a police report.  Understandably he waited to replace his license until he was home for winter break.  In the meantime, the thief got pulled over in another part of the state and in one traffic stop was issued four tickets, which is quite an accomplishment.

After contacting my office, my client reported the theft to the campus police, notified the FTC, and completed the FTC’s Identity Theft Affidavit.  Getting the charges dropped was expensive for his parents and an expungement was needed to clear his record.  It was helpful to have the police report and the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit in hand.  When he checked his credit report he and his parents were stunned to learn that he’d gotten a mortgage at age 14 – another issue to be cleaned up.  But better now than when he really applied for a mortgage.

The Talk moved onto reliable sources of information for him as a consumer and a stop at the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) website.  The home page had “6 tips for using your credit card this season” as an example of what CFPB offers.

Since the New Year is but a few days away I suggested that he start keeping track of transaction on his credit card and his checking accounts.  One option is Mint.  My Favorite Nephew has begun to frequent yard sales, thrift stores, craigslist, and others for used stereo equipment to repair, refurbish, and resell.  I offered a better option for him might be Quicken.com since users can reconcile accounts (Mint doesn’t have this feature).   He already knows how to reconcile as his wise mother long ago got him started reconciling his parents’ checking account.

I concluded by asking him about backing up his computer.  He proudly said he uses a hard drive and backs up regularly.  Being a lawyer as well as an aunt, I posed a hypothetical worst case.  What happens if both your laptop and the hard drive back up get stolen? Or your back up fails?  I offered that some of his stereo profits might be well invested in an automatic online backup service such as Mozy.  No matter what’s going on, every 24 hours Mozy backs up my home computer.  If someone steals my computer, I know I have a current back up.

This Talk isn’t just for young adults.  All of us can benefit from taking these protective steps and in knowing how to respond if our identification is lost or stolen.  Now my Favorite Nephew can have The Talk with his parents.

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Thanksgiving: A Time for Family and For Remembering

November 24, 2015

As you and your loved ones gather this Thanksgiving, part of the conversation is likely to include those not sitting around the food laden table.  Family unknown to some at the table. This year, consider joining the StoryCorps project called The Great Thanksgiving Listen to record the memories and lives of your elders.  Memorialize their… Read more »

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Welcome to November

November 3, 2015

Welcome to November – National Family Caregiver Month and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. If you have been or know someone who has been a caregiver, we can agree that is a very challenging job.  A job that is frequently unpaid and often never ending. In recognition of the millions of unpaid caregivers, there are… Read more »

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Family Cemeteries: Time marches on, and sometimes over, them

October 13, 2015

Family and historical cemeteries are often forgotten or even ignored. Most recently this has come to light in a Virginia matter. More than 250 years ago, Zachariah and Elizabeth Terrell Moorman purchased land in Lynchburg where they and their descendants lived. In 1972, Embra Moorman Tillotson sold the last parcel to Jerry Falwell’s Old Time… Read more »

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New CFPB Guidebooks to Handling Someone Else’s Money

August 19, 2015

When handling someone else’s money, it is important to know how to manage the money and property properly. Previously I’ve written about some very helpful guidelines published by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) for an agent under a power of attorney, conservator (guardian) appointed by the court, trustee, or a government fiduciary. The CFPB… Read more »

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New Book! Positioning Yourself for Referrals

August 11, 2015

My copy of “How to Capture and Keep Clients” was just delivered. Editor Jennifer Rose had asked me to contribute a chapter on Positioning Yourself for Referrals. It was a good exercise in looking back at what I’ve done along the way in building my practice and what I have seen others do to develop… Read more »

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Selecting a Nursing Home: What to Consider and What are the Ratings

May 20, 2015

Deciding which nursing home is appropriate for yourself or a loved one can be very challenging.  Where does the search even begin? Remember too that nursing homes aren’t just long term care residences, they also provide short-term skilled nursing care such as after a hospitalization. Every day about 1.3 million people are cared for by… Read more »

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Taxpayer Identity Theft – Protect Yourself

March 29, 2015

For the second time this week, someone I know has become the victim of identity theft.  Again the person’s Social Security number was used fraudulently to file something with the IRS. As I write each year, taxpayer identity theft is an ever growing problem. The best preventive option is to file your tax returns as… Read more »

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Technology Changing and Improving Home Care for Sick and Frail Adults

January 10, 2015

As any caregiver can tell you, there’s never enough time in the day or help to get everything done.  Many are turning to digital resources to help care for loved ones who are ill or for frail elders. These digital resources can be hardware, websites, apps, webinars, or videos on YouTube. This comprehensive piece from… Read more »

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Is Your Financial Advisor Legally Required to Act Only for Your Benefit?

October 27, 2014

When you seek guidance from a professional financial advisor, do you know to which standard your advisor must comply?  Is it the lower “suitability” standard or the higher “fiduciary” standard? With the fiduciary standard, the registered investment adviser (RIA) is legally required to act for the sole benefit of and in the best interest of… Read more »

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