Personal Finance: Ask the Experts

Get advice on money matters from The Bee's Claudia Buck and a panel of local experts

June 26, 2013
We changed our mind about our living trust. How do we revoke it?

Q: In 2008, my husband and I formed a Living Trust. Since then our family dynamics have changed considerably and we wish to revoke it with a Trust Revocation Declaration. There are forms on the internet with instructions to do this personally without the expense of an attorney. When this form is notarized, would it be completely legal and safe, or would hiring an attorney be the better way to obtain our goal? Thank you for your advice.

Sandra, Placerville

June 26, 2013
How often should a living trust be reviewed?

Q: How often should a Living Trust be updated and is it sufficient to renew the notarized page?

Lena, Roseville

June 25, 2013
How do I rollover my 401(k) plan?

Q: I am 61 and have quit working. I have a 401(k) from my company. How and where do I decide to roll it over for my best retirement planning?


June 24, 2013
Freeze or Fraud Alerts on your credit history: Do you need one?

In Sunday's column on being careful when getting your "free" credit report, we mentioned a couple of additional options for consumers: security freezes and fraud alerts.
Both are actions that you initiate with each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. In California, the state Attorney General's Office has how-tos on getting a security freeze.

Rocklin resident David Harry and his wife have had a security freeze on their files with the three credit bureaus for years. It's "a substantial safeguard (against) unauthorized credit access for fraudulent purposes," he said in an email.

Here's more detail:

June 19, 2013
IRS offers free tax webinar Thursday for small business owners

As part of National Small Business Week, the IRS is offering a free online tax webinar on Thursday for small business owners.

The 1-hour workshop, "Avoiding the Top Tax Mistakes that Small Businesses Make," will cover common errors made on business taxes; reliable strategies for recordkeeping; how to choose a tax preparer and other topics.

It starts at 11 a.m. and includes a live Q&A session.

Small business owners can register by sending an email to; or register online

The IRS website has additional free resources for small businesses.

Beyond this week, the IRS is hosting 10 free workshops on federal tax issues that are open to the public, on various dates in August through December.

June 18, 2013
Cyber-thieves: More tips on how to protect yourself from credit card theft

In today's Bee, we look at the pernicious problem of cyber-pickpockets who steal debit and credit card numbers from the computer systems of banks, businesses, restaurants and retailers. Or we can unwittingly give out our financial data to crooks when shopping or chatting online.

How to protect yourself? Here are additional tips:

Check your statements
"Unfortunately consumers' hands are tied and cannot truly protect their credit card information," said Robert Siciliano, a Boston-based security expert for McAfee. His best advice: Be diligent about regularly checking your credit card and banking statements for phony charges.

If you do online bill-paying, you can check your credit card or bank statements weekly, even daily. If you're not online, be sure to check your monthly statement when it arrives in the mail.

"I recommend doing so online," said Siciliano. "Mobile phone apps offered by your credit card companies make it even easier."

June 17, 2013
More Father's Day wisdom from readers

Our Sunday column on Father's Day wisdom, readers and financial experts shared what they learned from their own Dads, as well as what they're passing along to their own kids. Here are a few additional bits of fatherly wisdom:

Think twice
Bonnie Byrnes, a Sacramento mother of three, said her husband's advice during lean times still rings in her ears: "If you can't eat it, don't buy it." In other words, when finances are tight, don't spend money on anything you truly don't need.

By the book
As a father and a retired finance director, Ed Street recommends the "The Wealthy Barber," first published in 1989 by Canadian author David Chilton. Told through the fictional eyes of a young about-to-be Dad visiting his neighborhood barber, it employs humor to dispense lessons on mortgages, wills, savings and other personal finance topics.
"Each time the guy goes in for a haircut, he gets a new lesson," said Street, a Davis resident who gave copies to both his grown kids when they were younger. "It is old but still relevant and an easy read."

Another book recommendation: Sacramento CPA Gregory Burke recently gave his newly married stepson and wife a copy of "Save Wisely, Spend Happily: Real Stories About Money & How to Thrive from Trusted Advisors" by Sharon Lechter. It covers everything from car buying to mortgages to long-term investing.
"I'm hoping they'll read it," said Burke. "They're young and have an opportunity to chart their financial start saving for retirement and benefit from compound earnings."

A lesson in rhyme
"Seldom lend and never borrow,
That will save a lot of sorrow."
That bit of poetical advice came from Gregory Qualls, a retired IBM employee in south Sacramento. He said he learned the rhyme years ago from his own parents and is now passing it on to his grandchildren.

Don't forget laughter
Oroville resident Janice Taylor says her father-in-law, who's 86, has always preached "Pay yourself first," meaning to sock away some savings out of every paycheck. "He wants us to remember to consider our future needs, as well as our present ones."

Another piece of the WWII veteran's long-lasting advice has carried Taylor and her husband through many tough times, financial and otherwise: "Don't both of you lose your sense of humor at the same time."

June 14, 2013
Frugal Father's Day: Gifts for Dad that won't break the bank

Last month, we offered up some low-cost, last-minute ways to celebrate your mom on Mother's Day. Now we're doing the same for dear ol' dad. We've gathered some tips from various websites, including and In no particular order, here are 10 low-cost, but heartfelt, Father's Day gift ideas:

1. Fund a dream

Every dad would like to have some luxury that's slightly out of reach: a new car, a vacation trip, a fancy sports item or cool new tool or gadget. Get him started toward his goal by creating a "Dream Fund." It can be as basic as labeling a jar filled with loose change or opening a special savings account. It's not the amount that counts, but that you support his dream.

June 13, 2013
Are there programs that provide training and re-training services?

Q: Where can I go to get retrained or more training to get a job?
Brenda - Shingle Springs, CA

June 13, 2013
How do I find a part-time paid internship?

Q: I have to take summer school so I cannot find a part-time paying internship for the Mechanical engineering field. I am a 3rd year student. Any suggestions? I would like to work in Sacramento, Folsom or adjacent areas. Thank you. Alex - Sacramento, CA

June 13, 2013
What kind of jobs are available for those on probation or parole?

Q: What kind of jobs are available for young men who are on probation or parole? Are there any services available for job training and acceptance for these individuals?
Jackie - Sacramento, CA

June 10, 2013
Will my mom be forced to sell her house if she receives long-term care help from Medi-Cal?

My mom has her home in a revocable trust. My dad is deceased. Her annual income is approximately $30,000 and she has some savings. She is worried that the state will "take her home" if she requires long-term care and exhausts her savings. What would happen? Can she be forced to sell the house or would liens be filed? My aunt who has no trust but a will and is low income, met with an elder care attorney who said he would "fix it" so she would not lose her home and offered to do the same for my mom for a substantial fee. She did not understand how he is able do this. Can you explain the process and how it relates to the trust? Thanks.

June 7, 2013
Can a trustee purchase property that belongs to the trust?

My mom is living in a board and care. Her home is in a revocable trust and I am the Successor Trustee. I am also agent under her Power of Attorney. She can no longer make any financial decisions, as verified by her internist and neurologist. She will be in a board and care from now on. Her only asset is her home. As the Successor Trustee and agent under the Power of Attorney, I have the authority to sell her home without her signature to another buyer and to sign the paperwork. Can I purchase her home? She needs the money to pay for the board-and-care. She can't deed the house to me because I have to wait one year to sell and she will be out of money before then. Is my only option to sell her home to another buyer, or can I purchase the home?

June 7, 2013
Fatherly financial advice: What's yours?

With Father's Day coming up, we'd like to hear from readers about their favorite fatherly financial advice. It can either be what you learned from your own Dad or what you're trying to impart to your kids.

If you'd like to share some some of your family's fatherly wisdom on money matters, please contact personal finance columnist Claudia Buck at (916) 321-1968 or by email:

June 3, 2013
How can a trustee be reimbursed for trust expenses paid from the trustee's personal funds?

My mother has a living trust that leaves her house to her two grandchildren and the rest to her four children. Two years ago, she went into a care home and acting as Trustee, I took over all the bills, including a second on the house, taxes, etc., because her income is only enough to cover her care. If she was to die today, how would I settle the trust and be compensated for the thousands of dollars I've paid from my own money when her only real asset, other than a small IRA, is the house? The grandchildren do not want to sell the house. The house is currently being rented by one of the grandchildren but the rent and any sold assets, such as her car, are paying down my mother's old debt and home repairs/ improvements. Thank you for your time.

M., Rio Linda

Meet Our Financial Experts

Claudia Buck

Claudia Buck is The Sacramento Bee's personal finance columnist. Read all her columns here. Contact her at

Terri Carpenter

Terri Carpenter offers advice on job hunting, retraining and career counseling. Carpenter works at Sacramento Works Inc., the career and job training arm of the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). With 15 years in the field, she has hands-on experience with everyone from first-time job seekers to career professionals seeking advice after a layoff or looking for a mid-career change. Ask her a question.

Carlena Tapella

Carlena Tapella is a partner in the law firm of Webb & Tapella Law Corp. in Sacramento. The firm specializes in estate planning and probate, such as estates, trusts, conservatorships and litigation. She is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association's Estate Planning & Probate Section. Ask her a question.

Kimberly Foss

Kimberly Foss, certified financial planner, is the founder of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville. With nearly 30 years in the financial industry, her clients include women in transition, small business owners, retirees and "pre-retirees." Ask her a question.

Jesse Weller

Gregory Burke, a CPA and tax expert with John Waddell & Co. in Sacramento since 1984, worked as an IRS tax auditor for six years. He’s a past chairman of the California Society of CPAs. Ask him a question.

Daniel Tahara

Daniel Tahara takes your questions about California taxes. Tahara, a spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board, has 10 years of experience as a tax auditor. Ask him a question.

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