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It is one of those scenarios that so many people play around with: what they would do if an unexpected windfall appeared in their life, a large sum of money came their way due to an inheritance, contract, business sale, lawsuit, lottery win, stock options sale or divorce settlement? While it can be entertaining to imagine, the truth is, few people are prepared to successfully manage large, unexpected sums of money. When an individual works over the years to accumulate wealth, there is a financial growth process at work; he or she learns incrementally how to manage the issues that arise. The problem with a large financial windfall is that many people are out of their element and may not know how to successfully manage those funds. Approximately 70 percent of people who come into sudden wealth lose those funds within several years due to poor financial management.

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Estate Planning for New Parents

According to a survey by Findlaw.com, approximately 60 percent of parents have yet to formalize a simple will with which to protect their children. But having an estate plan in place, including a will and possibly trusts as well, should be a major concern for every parent. The future may hold decision-making issues regarding disability or incapacity, or the untimely death of one or more parents. As hard as it is to contemplate, one of the choices a responsible parent must make it how to ensure their child or children are safe if anything happens to them. Meeting with an experienced estate planning lawyer is a must for all parents.

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Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) savings plans have several advantages. First, they are an easy way to begin saving for retirement when you should: as early as possible. Any employer contributions add to your savings, and there are long-term tax advantages, in that taxes are deferred on the money you save.

Now there is an additional tax incentive that you do not have to wait until retirement to take advantage of: The Saver’s Credit is a credit of up to $1,000 (or $2,000 for a married couple filing jointly) for IRA and 401(k) contributions.

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Getting ready for retirement involves careful preparation, including a proper estate plan, but much of your financial security depends on making the right decisions at crucial points. One of the most important decisions is made long before retirement: the decision to start saving. Because of the value of compound interest, the earlier you start saving, the better. Saving half as much per year beginning in your mid-20s is better than starting to save at age 40. Proper management of your retirement account is as important as saving…

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When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, it not only gave same-sex married couples the pride of federal recognition of their marriages, it also provided very real legal protections, including significant tax advantages.

Lesbian and gay married couples who are legally married in New York or any of the other 11 states that recognize same-sex marriage, and the District of Columbia, now have the right to more than 1,100 federal benefits that were previously only available to heterosexual married couples…

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Recipients of Social Security benefits are at risk from scammers who attempt to redirect electronic payments to accounts they control. An estimated $28 million was stolen this way between October 2011 and June 2013. The thieves proceed by obtaining a recipient’s Social Security number and other personal information, sometimes by posing as a telemarketer or a representative of the Social Security Administration. With a Social Security number and bank account …

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It Is Important to Discuss What Ifs with Aging Parents

Many older people are reluctant to discuss financial matters, even with close family members, but when a loved one passes away, there are certain things you will need to know. Neglecting to talk with aging parents about financial and estate planning matters can result in significant difficulties in handling these affairs after death. It is important to think about both how to have the conversation and what needs to be talked about.

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Social Security Online Accounts Are Available

The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows recipients of Social Security benefits to check their benefits information online, change their information for direct deposit, and accomplish other tasks. To create an account, you must be at least 18 years of age, and have a Social Security number, a U.S. mailing address and a valid email address. The process of creating an account is straightforward and involves submitting personal information and choosing a username and password…

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income Americans with financial assistance to buy groceries, and many older Americans rely on it. However, only about a third of eligible seniors participate in the program, perhaps from a mistaken understanding of who is eligible and how much assistance is available. Seniors need to know about SNAP’s deductions for medical expenses. SNAP makes sense for many New York seniors, especially because the state allows individuals to have savings and still qualify for benefits.

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Long-Term Care a Growing Cost Concern for Women

More women tend to need long-term care coverage, and they will be paying more for it.

Prices for long-term care insurance will soon reflect the reality that women live longer and file more claims than men. That change could mean significant upheaval in an already confusing and unpredictable market—and for some women who have been on the fence about buying such coverage, it creates a new decision-making deadline. Gender-based long-term care policies are beginning to be offered to women who apply for individual coverage…

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