Personal Finance: Ask the Experts

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

September 12, 2013
Does the sale of appreciated stock increase my income?

Q: I plan to retire in a couple of years and am strategizing my money options for maximum gain. Therefore I am allowing myself 12 years to roll over as much money as possible from 401k and 457 to Roth IRA. I am targeting to keep my income below the $250,000 threshold for married filing jt. I want to pay the taxes with my taxable account. I will have to sell LT appreciated stock. Does the sale of the appreciated stock count toward the $250,000 threshold? If so, then I suppose I will have to start selling off my stock now to bring up the cost basis in time for retirement when my income will ramp up due to the conversions.

Lady Lee
Sacramento, CA

September 5, 2013
Can overlooked heir receive IRA proceeds without tax consequences?

Q: My 94-year-old widowed mother recently died. Her will divides her estate equally among 3 adult children. However, she had various IRA accounts. On one rather large account, she only listed my sister and me as beneficiaries, inadvertently excluding my brother. Since these IRAs need to be rolled over to prevent huge tax consequences for us, is there any way to give my overlooked brother his share (about $100K) without incurring tax liability? He wants to get the money this year rather than $14K per year over time, the maximum gift allowance. Thank you.

Sacramento, CA

September 4, 2013
College students: Here's how to avoid I.D. theft

September marks the annual migration of college students flocking back to college campuses. With student loan debt topping $1.2 trillion, we recently wrote about ways to trim the fat from college costs.

But one of the biggest financial threats facing college students may be identity theft. According to, college students ages 18 to 24 face the highest risk of identity theft among adults, partly because they often live in shared housing where others can access their computers, files and other financial facts of life.

Here are some ways students can reduce the odds of becoming a victim of I.D. theft:

September 3, 2013
What opportunities are available for an older worker looking to retrain for a new career?

Q: I am a 60-year-old desperate to find a full-time career after being displaced several years ago (working two part-time jobs now). A career college in Rancho Cordova offers optical assistant training courses. Do you feel this would be a wise career path? Or could you offer an alternate suggestion? I have management and sales skills and am quite comfortable with various software apps. Thank you. Rick - Roseville, CA

September 3, 2013
Are there any tax breaks with respect to an inherited home?

Q: "Hello,
I inherited my Dad's home in 2009 after he passed away in January of 2009. I continued to pay the mortgage but last year (2012) added some improvements to get the house ready for sale. It sold in September 2012 with me owing $18,000 on the mortgage. (It was paid off at closing). What kind of tax breaks are available to me ?

Thanks so much,
Canton, GA

September 1, 2013
When is a trustee required to give heirs notice of a will or trust's existence?

Q: My aunt passed away without any children. My mother was the her last surviving sibling. I have an older cousin who 'took charge' and said that he was trustee of her estate. He also said that my aunt wanted no services of any kind. Since my aunt's passing, my mother has passed away as well. This leaves me wondering about the status of the estate. Does my cousin have a legal obligation to disclose the contents of my aunt's will? At what point must documents be filed with the county (nothing has been filed yet)? If she left a "living trust," must there be a disclosure of the contents to my mother and her heirs? At what point do we give up our rights to any inheritance?

Robert, Sacramento

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.

Personal Finance columns

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