Q. I am 65 and would like to buy some stock. I would like to have joint ownership with my son so that if I die it would automatically pass to him. How can I do this?
A. It is an easy thing to do by simply opening a brokerag account in both names "with right of survivorship (WROS)." This is the most common form of joint tenancy of property and means that both people own the property equally. When one dies, the property automatically is passed to the other owner.
Another form of joint tenancy known as "tenancy in common" provides no right of survivorship. In this case, if one of the joint owners dies, the other would not automatically inherit the asset.
Q. I am getting ready to do my own taxes. Does the IRS have checklist of things to focus on?
A. It's not quite a checklist, but the top ten errors on tax returns according to the IRS are:
1) Failure to enter the standard deduction.
2) Failure to check dependency status indicator box.
3) Math errors in computing refund.
4) Failure to claim earned income credit.
5) Math errors in computing taxable income.
6) Failure to use taxable income to find tax owed.
7) Failure to follow earned income credit worksheet instructions.
8) Erroneously claiming earned income credit.
9) Math errors in figuring income minus the standard deduction.
10) Failure to enter spouse's Social Security number.
Q. Are there specific IRS publications that can help me with my taxes. How can I get them?
A. The IRS has a toll-free number for their publications. It' 1-800-829-FORM. For some basic reading, order: Publication 17, "Your Federal Income Tax," or Publication 334, "Tax Guide For Small Businesses."
It takes about two weeks to receive a publication by mail.
Q. Is there a phone number at the IRS to inquire about a refund?
A. There is a toll-free phone number: 1-800-829-4477. However, i it is less than eight weeks since you filed your tax return, don't bother to call. You must wait eight weeks before the IRS will take your inquiry.
Q. I am expecting my divorce to be final next week and m settlement is to be $20,000. I would like to invest this money where I can earn more interest than my passbook savings account earns, but I don't want to take any risks with my money. What do you recommend?
A. What I would recommend would depend upon your individua situation and whether or not you want any or all of this money accessible to you. For example, if you need part of the money as a cash reserve for emergencies, I would recommend that you consider an insured money market account available through many banks and savings and loan associations. The money would be readily available with no penalty for withdrawal. If you want to save some of the money for retirement, you may want to consider an annuity. These are available through insurance companies and are considered to be safe if purchased from a reputable company. It is best to deal with a well-established company that has an A plus rating from A.M. Best, a company that rates insurance companies.