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Tax Scams to Avoid

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2021 7:03 am

Tax Scams to Avoid

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore

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March 8, 2021 7:03 am

We always need to be on the lookout for potential identity theft scams so we can avoid them. But this becomes increasingly important during tax season, when dangerous tax related scams are on the rise. On the next MoneyWise Live, hosts Rob West and Steve Moore share some things you need to know about these scams. Then it’s your calls and questions on the financial matters you’d like to discuss. Tax scams to avoid on the next MoneyWise Live at 4pm Eastern/3pm Central on Moody Radio. 

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Not licensed in Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah. As April 15th approaches, we're reminded of the saying, the tax man cometh. But this year, there's something else to worry about because the con man cometh too.

That's right. This tax season, you should watch out for a truckload of tax-related scams, some new, some old, but still dangerous. Today, Kingdom Advisors President Rob West has what you need to know. Then it's your calls on anything financial at 800-525-7000.

800-525-7000. I'm Steve Moore. Some tax scams to avoid. That's next right here on MoneyWise Live. So Rob, tax season isn't stressful enough, but now we have to deal with scammers too? Unfortunately, yes. But as clever as these con men are these days, Steve, you can avoid their snares by being vigilant.

So there's really no need to panic. Okay, well, let's get started then. Let's see, what's the first item in the scammer's bag of dirty tricks?

Yeah, this one's been around a while and it's gradually gotten worse. It's a form of identity theft and let's call it tax refund fraud. Here's what happens. A crook gets a hold of your social security number and files a false tax return to get a refund. They'll usually file electronically making up a bunch of numbers to make it look like you have low income and a whole lot of deductions to get a bigger refund. Having your social, they can also open up a bogus bank account and receive the refund by direct deposit or they'll use a temporary address to get a paper check. Then when you file your legitimate return, the IRS rejects it because someone else has already filed using your identification or information. At that point, you'll have to claim fraud with the IRS and go through their process to fix it, which unfortunately can take months.

Well, that's not very nice. Okay, so how do you prevent this from happening? File early, maybe? Well, that's probably a good idea, but there's something even better. You can sign up to get an identity protection PIN number from the IRS to use when filing your return. Scammers won't have it, of course, so they can't file in your name. We'll have a link for that in today's show notes.

That'd be great. What was that called again? A identity protection PIN number? Yeah, think of it like a freezing your credit report, except this one is for the IRS. Okay, great information.

All right, what's next? What's the other scam or other scams that you have on your list? Yeah, that would be the W-2 email phishing scam. Of course, that's phishing with a ph.

We talk about this often. This is when crooks use a fake email to trick you into giving them your financial information. Well, with the W-2 version, crooks aren't targeting you directly, at least at first. Instead, they send the phishing email to your company's payroll or HR department, claiming to be a company executive, sometimes even the CEO. The email asks for sensitive W-2 data, which unfortunately those departments sometimes provide to the crooks. Having that information greatly increases the crooks odds of getting fraudulent refunds. Now, there's not much you can do about this one except inquire at your company about steps they're taking to prevent getting taken in a phishing email scam. Yeah, and if nothing else, I would suspect that this will at least alert them to the problem so they can take some steps.

Okay, what's next? Well, this next one, Steve, is called ghost tax preparers. That's just another name for a fake or fly bite night tax preparer who takes your money and most likely falsifies your return, getting you in trouble with the IRS. Typically, the ghost preparer won't sign the return. The IRS says that any tax preparer who doesn't sign and put down their preparer tax identification number is breaking the law. Sometimes they'll base their fee on a percentage of your refund, meaning they'll fake things like claiming bogus deductions to make it look like you're getting a bigger refund than you're entitled to. So, always ask for a tax preparer ID number before hiring someone to do your taxes. The IRS has an online directory where you can verify that your preparer is legitimate and again that will be in our show notes as well. Maybe they should call it the ghostbuster directory. Yeah, exactly.

All right, hey, time for one more. This would be your typical IRS phone scam. Someone calls you claiming to be an IRS agent and says you haven't or you have a tax bill that you haven't paid. The caller then threatens to seize your bank accounts and have you arrested if you don't pay immediately. That panics a lot of people and how do they want you to pay? Well, get this, usually by buying some type of gift card and then giving them the 16-digit card number which enables them to use the card.

Of course, it's all fake. You should just hang up and anytime somebody mentions gift card or if the IRS is calling you which they don't do without mailing you first, well, you know it's a scam. All right, well, here's something that isn't a scam. It's our number.

Give us a call 800-525-7000. Nice to have you with us today. It's MoneyWise Live. We hope it's a wonderful day wherever you are. The sun is shining and well, Rob Rest. Rob Rest. I'm a semi-professional radio announcer.

Apparently not on Mondays. Let me try this again. Rob West is his name.

The regular spelling with the W in front. W-E-S-T and he's taking your financial calls today on anything. 800-525-7000. Before we go there though, Rob, you know we did have some Facebook responses today. Our Facebook question was if you've ever received a call or an email from a scam artist, how did you respond? And Manuel says not very smart, I guess. I failed miserably. Luckily, it wasn't too much money.

It wasn't too much money that I lost, so we hope he didn't lose too much there. Anna says, I usually don't answer if I don't know the number. If one comes through, I try not to say a lot as I know they have the ability to take snippets from what I say for their own use and that is absolutely true. John says, I hang up and block that number. Sandy says, once I reported it to the police, but mostly I hang up. Doug says, I'm not very kind.

I cut them off and hang up. Is this Christ-like? Well, we don't know.

I think you'd probably have to pray about that, Doug, see what the Lord tells you. And then Asha says, I share the gospel. And I'm not sure whether those folks hang up on Asha or not, but that's always a good thing. But generally speaking, Rob, we don't like to engage those folks at any level, do we? No, I mean, obviously, if it's somebody that is using tactics that would most often be used with a scam of some kind, you want to disconnect immediately and you want to keep from saying anything, if possible. And then I like the idea of blocking that number, which is becoming more and more easy to do these days. So, you know, this is just a part, unfortunately, of the times in which we live, both via telephone and now more commonly online through email and through malware on your computer and, you know, folks contacting you through a variety of means.

So you just have to be on your guard, be wise, trust the Lord, but do your part. Yeah, these are not things we recommend, but these are things we've heard in the past, just passing on some information as we hear it, as we find it. I've heard of someone who gets their dog to start barking in the phone receiver back at the bad guys. I've heard from someone who just screams at some ear piercing level into their phone, may break the phone as well, you want to be careful.

And I think we got this call once on the program, someone uses an air horn when they realize that there's scammers on the end. Again, we're not recommending it. I certainly don't endorse those approaches.

No, no, it might have, it might, one time it might have been semi interesting. Not that we recommend it, of course. All right, here's what we do recommend. 800-525-7000 if you want to speak with Rob West today about anything financial, and I can tell just by looking at him, he's loaded for bear.

Let's begin in Massillon, Ohio. Hi, Gary, how can we help you? Hi, my question is, what is the difference between ETFs and mutual funds, the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Yeah, it's a great question, Gary. And, you know, ETFs obviously have become much more popular as of late. We're seeing more and more exchange traded funds in the mix, primarily because, you know, they're lower cost, and you can buy into them during the day because they trade with the market. And that really is the key differentiator, Gary with between a mutual fund and an ETF. And that is that a mutual fund you buy based on the net asset value, and you can only buy in when the market is closed.

So they take the total amount of the assets and the holdings, and they come up with what's called a net asset value at the end of every day. And then you can buy into more shares of that fund, or you can redeem shares if you're an existing shareholder. And then, you know, you would own a piece of that mutual fund. With an exchange traded fund, same idea in that it's a pooled investment product where you own a number of investments inside the investment.

So you're properly diversified, at least, you know, to begin with, you need to look at your overall portfolio to make sure it's the right allocation, but it's a way to own a number of investments in a pool. But with an ETF, it trades like a stock. So it would trade on a major index, typically, with a buy and sell order as that market is open. ETFs tend to be more tracking type investments, not all, but they tend to either track a market index or some other tracking tool. There's ETFs that track the price of commodities, like an ETF that tracks the price of gold. Whereas mutual funds can be trackers to a particular index, or they can be actively managed. And what that just means is you're buying into, again, a pooled investment, where a money manager is using his or her expertise to buy and sell investments inside the mutual fund based on a strategy that's outlined in the prospectus. And so you would be investing in a particular fund because you believe they have the ability to outperform the index in their particular slice of the stock market. So one is not better than the other.

They are different. But in that you're looking to try to get a basket of investments. They can both be very, very effective. So I think it always comes down, Gary, to what is your investment strategy, which will always relate to your age, your risk tolerance, your goals and objectives? And then do you want an actively managed portfolio that an investment professional can manage on a separate basis buying individual stocks and bonds? Or do you want to do it through a pooled investment like a mutual fund with an active manager?

Or do you want to basically buy into the market indexes, whether that's the stock or the bond market, which you can do through mutual funds, or ETFs. And typically, in terms of the fee structure, the ETFs are going to be the lowest cost. The only other thing I would say about mutual funds that you need to be aware of is that there are many classes of mutual funds, and they have different fee structures associated with them. So you need to understand the structuring of the mutual fund before you go into it to know are you paying a load or a commission on the front end or the back end? You know, what is the management fee that's built into it? And are there sales charges inside it or marketing fees, like what are called 12b1 fees? So hopefully, that's a bit of a primer on what these are.

And I think for more information, you could visit with our friends at soundmineinvesting.org and read some of their great articles on these topics. Hmm, Gary, we appreciate that. And we wish you the best as you work through that.

Listen, we're going to work through a break right now. And then we'll come back and speak with Jordan. We have an interesting email too, from a couple who want to leave a large inheritance to their son.

They're concerned about the best way to do that to help him not hurt him. And your calls as well 800-525-7000. We have multiple open lines. So now is a great time to give us a call. We'll be right back with MoneyWise Live. Hey, whether it's saving or giving, getting out of debt, managing what you have, teaching your children about money, balancing your checkbook or balancing your budget, give us a call. We'd love to try to help you with it today. It's 1-800-525-7000. A number of open lines available to you right now. 800-525-7000 if you'd like to say hi to Rob West. Let's continue on down to Fort Lauderdale. Jordan, what's the situation you're dealing with?

How can we help? Oh, I have been getting calls telling me that they are making believe this is from the Social Security Department. We are concealing your Social Security because they have been using it in a wrong way in Texas. So I don't know what to think about it. Yes. Go ahead and finish. I'm sorry, Jordan. Go ahead.

Yeah, very good. Well, let me tell you, you know, the IRS will never call you first without first sending you something by the snail mail through the regular mail to alert you to a problem or an issue. And what I want you to know is that you're describing a common theme in many of these scams, which is they will say that your Social Security has been linked to some type of illegal activity, usually in another state and often related to a crime that has occurred. They might say there was a crime and there was a car recovered and your Social Security number was in that car or something like that. And they'll want you to do something in response to that.

It could be to verify your information. They might tell you that you need to send money. They might tell you that some kind of benefits or entitlements might be suspended. The bottom line is if any of that is being communicated over the phone, that your Social Security number was involved in something like that, just immediately hang up. That is a scam, Jordan. And if there was something legitimate related to the IRS that is going on with your particular file, they're going to contact you by the mail.

You can be assured of that. And then you can respond by calling them with the number on the information that would be the same number that you could verify online as to be the customer service line for the Internal Revenue Service. So I would disregard it based on what I'm hearing. Don't take those calls. Quickly disconnect them and don't ever give them any information or send them money. Jordan, good for you for catching that. Thank you very much for your call today and your warning to others.

800-525-7000, Chicago, Terry, do you have a question? Yes, I have an IRA account with a brokerage firm and I also have just a regular brokerage there that I keep my savings in, like my emergency savings, and I have it connected to my bank account so I can get the money in and out if I need it. My question is, would it be better since I'm 60 years old to be able to just put it in the IRA where it's earned a little bit better money and then if I needed to take some out for an emergency type situation or if I were, you know, my income was broken for a period of time from loss of work or something, would there be any penalties or any reason why I wouldn't want to do that?

Yeah, so you said you're 60 years old, so this is money that you have already put in to the IRA that you want to kind of earmark for emergencies or are you looking to add additional funds to the IRA for this purpose? No, I was going to put it in the IRA instead of keeping it in my non-IRA brokerage account. I see, yeah, and so making that contribution to a traditional IRA as long as you still have earned income, you're still working, is that right?

Yes. Okay, yeah, so you can make contributions to the IRA up to the limits as long as you, you know, or your income is not such that it's beyond the threshold that would permit you to make that contribution, but if your income is in the right range and you're contributing up to the maximum you can contribute each year, there's no problem with making that contribution and then when you take any of that money out because you got the deduction, you're going to pay it, you know, income tax on it. Now, the question though is, should the IRA be the proper place or the appropriate place for your emergency savings? And I'm going to say no to that, Terry, you know, as much as it might be frustrating, especially in this interest rate environment to watch it sitting there earning, you know, maybe a half of one percent or a little better, you know, the whole idea is that we want to invest for the long term and that means we want at least a 10-year time horizon with money that's earmarked, you know, in the stock market, you know, even in the bond portion of your IRA, especially in this environment where interest rates are heading up, bond prices are going to be headed down, so if you're having to sell because an unexpected expense comes up, you know, you are, could find yourself in a situation where you're having to sell at a loss and, you know, that's just not the best place for that type of money because, you know, unexpected expenses do come up.

Now, it may not be you losing your job, which would be kind of a desperate or dire situation, but it could be that, you know, an unplanned event happens in your home or in your car. Now, we should be putting some aside for maintenance of those things, but we know things can come out of left field, you know, a couple of thousand dollar deductible that we have to pay on a tree falling on a portion of our home or something like that that would be ripe for your emergency funds and I just don't want you to, you know, have to liquidate investments that might be at an inopportune time. So, for me, I would just keep that parked in that liquid FDIC insured, probably online savings account, earning 0.5, 0.6% and hopefully more than that down the road, and that way it's readily available with a couple of days worth of waiting for an ACH transfer, you can get it right in your checking account and have it ready to go.

I realize you may give up some, you know, if you were to invest that and not need it, but at least you know it's there, it's stable, and you're not going to have to liquidate an investment that's not good timing. Terry, thank you. We appreciate your phone call today. Again, our phone number, if you'd like to speak with Rob West about any financial question or worry you might be having, we don't want you to worry.

God's word tells us that there's not a lot of faith in the concept of worrying, but we want to put our trust in God who has promised to meet all of our needs and who knows the future, which is something we don't know. So, again, our phone number 800-525-7000. Rob, we haven't chatted for a little bit about the brand new app. Anything new and exciting on that front, sir? Yeah, there's a lot of exciting things going on with that, and for the benefit of our listeners, you know, if you've not checked out the MoneyWise app, we'd love for you to do that. We took over a year with a team of developers that are a part of our ministry at MoneyWise and built what I believe is the best digital envelope system out there where you can download your transactions, automatically categorize them to your envelopes, and stay on budget throughout the month for you and your spouse. If you're married, the key is you can track what's there before you spend it, not just report on it after the fact. And then there's a community where you can connect with others and our Discover tab where all of the best content in biblical finance feeds in in one place. Just search for MoneyWise Biblical Finance in your app store.

That's right. Thanks, Rob. Again, we'll come back and chat some more with Rob, 800-525-7000.

Helping you find God's wisdom for your faith and finances, this is MoneyWise Live. Again, here's our phone number, jot it down, 800-525-7000. Let's go back to our phone, Stowe, Ohio. Hello, Ken. What's up?

Hi, Rob and Steve. How are you guys today? We're good. Great. Thank you. Great.

I appreciate your program. I had a quick question concerning retirement. I am trying to get my ducks in a row to retire, and my company offers, I have both a 401k and also a pension. I'm looking at the options on the pension. There's a lump sum option, and then there's, of course, monthly payments with varying percentages. So I'm very intrigued by the lump sum. I wondered if you had any feedback concerning the options.

Yeah. Well, yes, and you need to really think long and hard about this and understand the options that are available to you, and it may make some sense, Ken. In fact, I think it would if you don't have a financial planning professional that you work with to actually kind of go through a financial planning process to make sure all of your ducks are in a row for this season of life and that you make a really wise decision here. You know, I tend to like the flexibility that comes with the lump sum payment because you can convert it to an income stream, which is what folks are often looking for in this season of money.

It's the season of life, I should say, but also it gives you the flexibility of being able to access the principal, which also is really helpful if for some reason you need to access a major portion of this all at once. I think the other thing to consider is that, you know, this decision may affect your children as well. So if you want to leave something behind, you know, once you and your spouse die, often the pension payments will stop. On the other hand, with the lump sum distribution, you can, of course, name a beneficiary to receive the money that's left after you and your spouse are gone.

Then there's, of course, the tax implications, which you'll need to think through and consider. You know, where folks will take the monthly payout through the the annuitization portion is where there's perhaps a gap between the guaranteed income they're expecting and what they need to cover their bills. And they're just simply looking for the peace of mind to know they're not going to be responsible for the investments on this and the risk that they'll have to take by investing it.

Even if they hire someone to do that, they'll know they have a guaranteed payout. And so, you know, there's a guaranteed payout for them or for them and their spouse for the rest of their lives that kind of serves as a base of income to know, okay, at least based on what we know today, the bills are paid. And then especially for somebody like you who has a 401k in addition to that, they know that they have this kind of larger amount that's continuing to grow and could be there for, you know, long term care if that's needed or some other major expense down the road.

So there is, there's a trade-off. And again, depends on kind of which is ultimately going to give you the most peace of mind. But for me, all things being equal, I like the flexibility and the control that you have by taking the lump sum because then you're really in the driver's seat as to how you invest that, what you do with it with regard to an income stream, how you can access it now, and how you can pass it on down the road. Does that all make sense, though?

Very much so. That was pretty much my thinking. I was thinking that with the lump sum, if I took the monthly and me and my wife would pass away in the near future, all those payments are gone. So, yes, I hate to think in that way, but the lump sum sounds much more attractive.

Yeah. Well, again, I think you need to look at the whole picture. And that's really where a financial professional can really shine. But I think you are thinking correctly in the sense that, you know, these are the considerations you need to work through.

And that's typically where I come down on most of these. But at the end of the day, you've got to look at the actual numbers because there's going to be an internal rate of return that is going to drive that monthly payment. And it could be that, you know, you're in a much better position in terms of taking that, assuming you all live a long time, versus, you know, what you could expect to receive as a reasonable income stream from the lump sum. And you've got to compare those two numbers and do the math and just make sure that it works in your favor.

But if it does, it certainly would afford you a lot more flexibility. So excited for you in this next season of your life. Be prayerful as to what the Lord has for you. And we appreciate your call today. Thank you, Ken. God bless you.

Let's go to South Florida. Hello, Kay. You have a question about your giving, huh? What's the situation? Hi, thank you for taking my call.

And I just want you guys to know I really appreciate your show. So my question is, unfortunately, I lost my job last year to COVID. I was in the event business.

And due to that, my income was fairly low. So for the first time in a long time, I got a substantial refund, we call it tax refund coming because, you know, I got credits and things that I kind of didn't qualify for before. So my question is, should I tie off the refund? And then my other question I thought about even as the stimulus checks come, should we tie off those stimulus payments?

Yeah. Well, I appreciate so much you thinking about this, Kay, because clearly by you even asking the question, you want to honor the Lord with your giving and acknowledge his provision in all of these situations. And that's certainly the way we should be approaching all that God entrusts to us. You know, when it comes to the tithe, I love that as a principle.

You know, we are under the law of Christ, not the law of Moses. So it's less about being legalistic and checking a box and more about an overflow of our gratitude to the Lord and giving as an act of worship. But clearly we see even in the New Testament that we should be systematic givers. And I believe that systematic giving should start with the local church where we're planted.

And then we give sacrificially beyond that. And applying the principle of the tithe, a tenth of your increase, I think is a great beginning point for you to give. Now, in terms of what is defined as your increase, I put a lot into that. I mean, I would typically put in, you know, Social Security payments, and I'd put in, you know, a stimulus check.

I mean, that's God's provision to you, regardless of how it came. It's part of your increase. I would apply the principle of the tithe there. I would put that on a business where I'm paying myself and a business that I own and distributions, not, you know, I'm paying myself that I own and distributions, not the gross receipts, but the profit or the income that's coming out of the business back to me. I would include that in my increase. There'd be just a couple of exceptions with regard to defining my increase. And a tax refund would be one of them in the sense that if you're already tithing on your gross pay, then in a sense, you've already given on that money.

That's just a return of money you prepaid to the IRS that you didn't need to, for obvious reasons. But again, as long as we're giving off of the gross, then essentially, we've already tithed on that money. The only other exception, I shouldn't say only, but one other exception to an increase would be insurance proceeds, you know, based on a loss that you had where you're getting, you know, money sent to you because you had damage to your home or a car that was totaled or something like that. You know, that's not really your increase. That's, you know, you're offsetting a loss that occurred there. So I think in those cases, we wouldn't necessarily apply the principle of the tide because it's not really your increase. But I would certainly put the stimulus payments in that if it were me.

Okay, great question. Thank you very much. And we appreciate your heart of generosity there. Thank you again for your call today. Our phone number should you want to speak with Rob West about any financial situation you find yourself in the middle of is 800-525-7000. 800-525-7000. You can also visit us online. You'll find lots of useful and helpful information there.

It's MoneyWiseLive.org. Hey, thanks for being out there today. After all, it wouldn't be much of a call-in program if someone didn't call in and that's your job. 800-525-7000. Indianapolis, hello, Lucy. Thanks for your patience. What's on your mind? Hi, thank you for taking my call.

Yes, ma'am. I have my husband and his brother made a rental property investment back in the 90s. And since my husband had passed away three and a half years ago, my brother-in-law stopped giving me whatever profit sharing from that rental property.

And in the meantime, every year I have been like paying tax on it. And I don't want it. And I feel that like I'm not getting the money on it. So I also told him that I wanted to sell my share to him. And he does not want to buy it because he also has another business that is not going well. So he said he's not buying it. And I said, well, how about just sell the whole property? And we split the money in half. And he said, no, if he sell it, he will have to pay tax on it. But if he passed away, he can pass it on to his son and they don't have to pay tax.

So now I don't know like what to do. Yeah. Lucy, when your husband passed away, did his portion of the property pass to you? The property is in full name.

We and my husband and him and his wife. So you're a 50% owner? Yes. Okay.

And is this an income generating property? Yes. And you're not receiving any of the income? No.

Yeah. Well, unfortunately, he's not doing the right thing here, clearly. And he's getting all the benefit and you're getting none. And on top of that, you're paying the taxes for your portion as an a 50% owner, which is just not right.

And so this needs to be rectified. And I realize, you know, this can be very difficult, because obviously, he's, you know, manipulating you in this situation, your husband is not here to step in and rectify the situation. And he's frankly taking advantage of you based on what you're describing here, because he's not 100% owner. And so essentially, he's taking your portion of the profits, which is stealing from you. And on top of that, as I said, you're paying the taxes.

And so, you know, the challenge is, it's going to involve some relational damage here. But I think you're going to have to assert yourself and, you know, protect what is rightfully yours. Because as a steward of God's resources, he's, you know, unless you decide to give it to him, it doesn't sound like you perhaps even have the ability to do that.

This is something you were counting on, you need it, you certainly don't want to pay tax on it if you're not getting any benefit from it. So there's no problem with you claiming what is rightfully yours. But that's going to involve you getting somebody to represent you and help you pursue this.

You know, assuming everything was titled properly and has been taken care of, you know, through the probate process and retitled in your name, I would engage a real estate attorney that could help you pursue a remedy to this, contact him, let him know that what he's doing here is is not right. You could certainly approach him first if you, you know, and I would be real prayerful about this and start on your knees, ask the Lord to give you some wisdom here, and approach him and say, Listen, I realize you're struggling right now, your business sounds like it's not doing well. But at the same time, you're not doing what's right for me. And, you know, 50% of this is mine. And so I'm entitled to 50% of the income, and I'm certainly not going to pay the taxes moving forward unless I'm getting my portion. And if he's not willing to make good and give you an accounting of what has been paid out, and therefore what you're due, which you may decide to give him some flexibility on how he makes, you know, restitution on that, that you're going to need to pursue some legal remedies.

And if you feel like, you know, that's the step you want to take, you'd want to contact a godly real estate attorney who can be an intermediary, and perhaps help you work through a plan with your brother-in-law to make this right. And you can do it in a way that's God honoring and it, you know, and even give him some grace and how that happens if he's in a financially difficult spot. But the longer you wait, the harder it's going to be to get this back on track.

So I would pray through it. Decide what you're willing to do, what you want the outcome to be. Approach him with that, perhaps with one other person, a family member or a church member or somebody who can provide some accountability. And then if that doesn't go well, I think you need to think and pray about pursuing a legal remedy. And I would contact your church and see if they can give you a referral to a real estate attorney. And Lucy, that legal remedy might just be having your attorney contact him.

Write him a letter that states what should be done, what has to be done, and you don't necessarily have to take it to the nth degree. Often just hearing that you're prepared to take it a step or two steps further is all that's necessary. And we know you want to do the godly thing as well, so we wish you the best. Thank you very much. Very tough situation.

Lake Villa, Illinois. Deborah, what's your question for Rob West? Thank you for taking my call. Sure. Just very briefly, I've returned from taking care of my parents after five years to my house, and there's a lot of damage to the house.

It should never have been left alone. Would it be wise, and I'm really asking, would it be wise to take a loan out from the house and have it repaired and wait for the proceeds of the estate to come to me when it can? Or should I try to just manage making payments on things until such time as I can get the estate?

Let me make sure I understand. So you're saying, and bless you for caring for your parents during that season where they needed you to do that, you said you returned home after five years, so this is your primary residence that is in need of repair? Correct. Okay, and when you said wait for the estate payout, you mean for your parents' estate, the proceeds that are coming to you or something else? Right, right.

Okay, all right, very good. And do you plan to stay in this home, Deborah, for the foreseeable future? Yes, especially until I get it fixed because I don't feel like I could sell it unless it was, I had a lot of repairs. Right, but I think that, you know, if this is a home you're telling me I have no plans on selling and unless something changes, and they can, but unless something changes, I see myself here 10 years from now, that's, you would approach the repairs and the renovations differently than if it was something you say I want to get it to where I can sell it and then I want to move on and buy something else.

Which would be more accurate? I'm planning on being here for 10 years. Okay, so I think then the next step is to say, yeah, what is needed if you've got some some money coming your way? And it sounds like, do you own this home free and clear?

Is that right? No, I do not. Okay, all right, so you've got a mortgage on it. What kind of, you know, beyond the mortgage and all your other expenses, are you just getting by every month? Do you have a little bit of margin at the end of the month?

Tell me about that. Well, until I went, until I went to be with my parents, I had margin. Now I had to pay for their house and my house while I was taking care of them. So I have, you know, I pretty much depleted what I had.

Okay, and what about on a monthly basis, your income minus your expenses? Is there anything left over? Not much, not much, not anymore.

Even the move here kind of really threw me backwards. Yeah. Okay.

Very good. Well, you know, I think the key here is I don't want to put your home at risk. I also don't want you living in a situation that's unsafe. So I think we've got to prioritize what's absolutely necessary. And if the home could be lived in and, you know, there's not mold in the walls or a leaky roof or something that's going to result in further damage to the home, then obviously you'd want to wait and hope that that estate gets settled quickly. And then you don't have to add any additional expense, either in closing costs or monthly, you know, debt service to the budget that's already pretty tight, especially with where savings accounts have been depleted.

I think that would be the ideal situation. And then you just, you know, as soon as you get that money, you have all your contractors lined up, you've gotten your bids, you know who's doing the work, and you're ready to go, you know, with the money that's available. And hopefully that'll take care of those renovations. And, you know, that's going to take care of those renovations and replenish your emergency savings.

And then you kind of build from there. If you were to say, Rob, there's some things where it's creating further damage to the home or it's unsafe or unsanitary for me, then obviously, you know, you might want to be looking at a home equity loan, but I would really go into that knowing exactly what that's going to cost you and make sure that you can cover that on a monthly basis because I wouldn't want there to be a ripple effect that could cause other bills to go unpaid or you to go unpaid because you're not able to cover the monthly payment. So I think my answer is I'd try to wait and do it out of the estate if at all possible and use the home equity loan as a last resort. Deborah, thank you very much for your phone call today and we wish you the best as you go forward with that. You're listening to MoneyWise Live and we're almost done for today. But, you know, someone was asking me recently, Rob, who are these coaches that you guys mentioned a lot? Are they local people? Are they in another state?

Do they work for you? Can you give us an overview quickly as to who the MoneyWise coaches are? Yeah, we have a wonderful group of coaches. These are all volunteers who have said, as a part of my ministry, I want to come alongside other believers and help them put spending plans together and develop a giving plan and get set up and answer their questions. And I'd like to do it just as a ministry, which means it's free of charge apart from a very small amount we'll ask you to pay for a workbook that's a digital workbook if you can afford it and if you can't, we'll even give you that. But it's typically over six to eight weeks meeting with you online and, again, helping get everything in order. And if you want to connect with one of those coaches, just go to our website MoneyWiseLive.org.

Click the button that says, as you might expect, connect with a coach. Thanks, Rob. Appreciate that. And we appreciate Amy and Dan and Erin and Jim Henry for their technical assistance today. MoneyWise Live is a partnership between Moody Radio and MoneyWise Media. Thanks and join us again tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-17 14:00:29 / 2023-12-17 14:17:42 / 17

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