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Mortgage Basics

Many home buyers search for a home they want, then apply for a mortgage and hope for the best. A better approach is to find out how much mortgage you can qualify for, then look at homes that you know are within your price range.

You will probably save time, aggravation and money by having your lender tell you the size of mortgage you qualify for and the likelihood that you will be approved. Pre-qualification may also give you added bargaining power with the seller if he knows there will be no delays in closing the deal.

Gift Giving Strategies

The federal government imposes a substantial tax on gifts of money or property above certain levels. Without such a tax someone with a sizable estate could give away a large portion of their property before death and escape death taxes altogether. For this reason, the gift tax acts more or less as a backstop to the estate tax. And yet, few people actually pay a gift tax during their lifetime. A gift program can substantially reduce overall transfer taxes; however, it requires good planning and a commitment to proceed with the gifts.

A Will That Meets Your Needs

A will is a legal document that transfers what you own to your beneficiaries upon your death. It also names an executor to carry out the terms of your will and a guardian for your minor children, if you have any.

Your signature and those of two witnesses make your will authentic. Witnesses don't have to know what the will says, but they must watch you sign it and you must watch them witness it.


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