What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is simply a legal document that gives you the right to name one or more individuals to step into your shoes and act on your behalf in certain pre-determined circumstances.

Two terms used in this document to describe the individuals affected are the principal (you), and the agents (others you delegate to act on your behalf). This document will give this agent (or agents) a very specific list of authorities and abilities to act on your behalf.

What are some of the common things that an agent does on a principal’s behalf? Here are a handful of the more common ones: Continue reading

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One Simple Tip to Save Thousands on a Mortgage

The single best tip to getting the best rate on a mortgage is to check your credit score and credit history. Don’t check it just before applying; check it in advance, up to a year in advance of when you are planning to apply for the mortgage. When it comes to applying for a mortgage, your credit isn’t the main thing – it’s the only thing.

To see how this works in the real world, take a look at the following example. If you are applying for a $200,000 mortgage and have a credit score of 620, you may qualify for a rate of 5.7%. The same loan with a credit score of 760 would potentially secure a rate of 4.18%. This may not sound like much, but over the course of the loan, the higher rate would end up costing you almost $67,000. That’s enough to put your kids through college, or retire a little earlier than you planned. Continue reading

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To everything there is a season – except tax scams

The following article was published by the IRS.

road-sign-464653_960_720Many people don’t really think about taxes once the tax season is over…but people promoting scams do. Each year, the IRS releases the top 12 scams, known as the Dirty Dozen. The schemes range from simple refund inflation to technical tax shelter deals.

Here’s a review of this year’s Dirty Dozen: Continue reading

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Stocks and Bonds 101

There is a lot of confusing investing terminology that is out there. As an investor, you may not need to know it all, but you should have a solid understanding of the basics. Here are two basic terms that everyone should understand before they risk their hard-earned dollars:

  1. Stocks: When a company seeks to grow and expand their business, they sell shares known as stock, which is essentially ownership in the company. Investors can make money on these shares by buying them when they have a lower value and selling them when they have a higher value. Investors can also make money in stocks by receiving regular payouts from the company, also known as dividends. Dividends are not always part of every stock that is sold; however, it is dividends plus changes in share price that end up determining one’s total return on his or her investment.
  2. Bonds: When you buy a bond, you are actually loaning money to a company, the government, or a government agency. This is often done for capital improvement projects, which likely have some sort of predetermined budget for which funds need to be raised through the issuing of bonds. During the life of the bond, there is a fixed level of interest that is paid out to the lender. This interest is in essence money you are given by the borrower for letting them use your money for a time. At the end of the life of the bond, the money is returned to you, the lender.

Continue reading

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Here’s how the IRS contacts taxpayers

The following article was published by the IRS.

e-mail-23349_960_720Everyone should know how the IRS contacts taxpayers. This will help people avoid becoming a victim of scammers who pretend to be from the IRS with a goal of stealing personal information.

Here are some facts about how the IRS communicates with taxpayers: Continue reading

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Time for Tax Planning

While the summer is starting to wind down and memories of vacations and beach days are still fresh in everyone’s mind, now is a great time to begin to think about your taxes. Sure, tax day is still a long ways off, but what you do now will set yourself up for next April.

One example of this is installing a solar system on your roof. This will net you a tax credit of 30% of the total cost. This isn’t the only way to save. To see other energy-related tax savings, visit energystar.gov.

Are you aware of all the tax changes this year and how they affect you? If not, make sure you take the time to do so. Understanding every change isn’t as important as understanding how the law affects you personally. There is plenty of information available on the web, or better yet, talk to your accountant if you have one. Continue reading

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