Life@Home December 2013

Page 51

pearl grant richmans presents

9. ESTABLISH A TRUST You can provide for your minor children by establishing a testamentary trust within your will, Smith says. “If it’s held within a trust, it can be managed for their benefit,” he says. “It’s never a great idea to give a 15-year-old $200,000. At 15, I probably would have wanted to purchase a Ferrari.”

10. DISCUSS A TRUST WITH YOUR PARENTS “The family home is usually your largest asset,” Smith says. “You could pass that asset on to your beneficiaries while still being able to live there through a Medicaid trust, which is the same as a grantor or irrevocable trust. Probably 70 percent of people face long-term care issues. Ideally, before you even need long-term care, go ahead and establish a trust. If you own your home and you need long-term care, the government will place a lien against your potential estate where they will look to recoup the cost of any long-term care.

11. SHIELD YOURSELF FROM FRAUD Reduce your vulnerability to fraud, suggests Pamela Wickes, director of forensic accounting services at Teal, Becker & Chiaramonte CPAs in Albany. “Prevention is more cost effective than being the victim of a fraud scheme,” Wickes says, citing tips from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

12. BEWARE OF THE INTERNET AND ATMS Don’t use the same computer for online banking as the one you regularly use for the Internet, Wickes recommends. Also, watch out for ATMs — especially

standalone and mini-ATMs, she warns. Small devices that steal cardholder information could be attached over the card-swiping slot. “Carefully examine an ATM before you use it,” Wickes says. “If you detect something suspicious, like a discolored card reader or unresponsive keypad, use another ATM and report the matter to the bank or owner listed on the ATM. You should also check your bank statement activity regularly.”

FRASIER FIR b y THYMES luxurious home fragrance for the holidays

13. INVEST WISELY “If there’s proof of consumers receiving a product or service, an investment is much less likely to be a scam,” Wickes says. “If there’s an extreme lack of transparency, don’t invest. Such secrecy was a red flag in Bernie Madoff’s scheme.”

14. SCRUTINIZE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE STATEMENTS In recent years, health insurance fraud — most of which is perpetrated by providers — represented an estimated 10 percent of all U.S. health care spending, Wickes says. “Ultimately, the cost of health care fraud increases insurance premiums, which impacts everyone who pays for all or part of their health insurance,” she says. “If you notice on your explanation of benefits from your health care provider duplicate charges, charges for goods or services not provided to you or charges for more significant and costly services than you received, you may have uncovered a fraudulent transaction.”  Bethlehem native Laurie Lynn Fischer is a regular Life@Home contributor who began her investment portfolio and launched her professional journalism career as a teenager.

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