For Fast, Fast Relief

When you have to get money to someone in a hurry, a check might serve if it is delivered fast. Use a commercial overnight delivery service or the post office’s Express Mail. If the recipient has nowhere to cash the check, use one of the following quick delivery systems:

An ATM card; if the recipient has a card you can put money into his or her U.S. bank account. It can be withdrawn at a cash machine abroad and you will get the wholesale rate on your currency exchange.

Postal money orders sent by Express Mail; but you can count on rapid delivery only within the United States. International money orders are governed by country to country agreements and may take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive.

Western Union; some agents, and the 800 service, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Cash can be transferred within the Unite State, Puerto Rico, and to more than 100 foreign countries in 15 minutes or less. Funds wired elsewhere usually take at least 2 business days because delivery goes through local banks. The recipient can pick up the money at any Western Union agency. For the address of the closest one, ask the local agent or the 800 operator.

The State Department; it’s the agency of choice if your son was robbed in Bangladesh. In an emergency, it will send cash within 24 hours to any American embassy or consulate for a fee of $15. All you have to do is get the money to the State Department, using Western Union, bank wire, overnight mail, or regular mail.

Your bank, for big money transfers within the United States. It can wire money to another bank for pickup the same day or one day later. But mistrust banks for international transfers. Unless the foreign bank pays a lot of attention, a transfer that ought to take a day can take a month.

Ask what identification the recipient will need in order to pick up the money. Usually, two proofs are required, like a passport and driver’s license with a picture attached. Sometimes he or she will also need a code word or authorization number that you furnish.

If you run short of cash or travelers checks, or your wallet is stolen, there are several ways to rescue yourself, get some at home to send you money, using one of the techniques just described.


How Fast Will Your Checks Clear?

There you stand, like a kid with his nose pressed against a pet store window. Your money is romping behind the glass and you cannot get at it. Any checks you deposit may be held by your bank for a specified number of days.

If you write a check against deposited funds too soon, it will probably bounce. You will pay $15 to $20 for the error, with some banks charging as much as $30. To bounce proof your checks, sign up for overdraft checking. Alternatively, move your account to a friendly bank that will honor checks written against uncollected funds although you will probably be charged for the service. A really friendly bank will waive the fee.

Under federal law, banking institutions normally must give you access to at least $100 of your deposit on the next business day, and must clear the rest of your deposit on a specified schedule (with some quirky conditions here and there). All the following limits apply to checks deposited to your account before the bank’s cutoff hour generally, noon for ATM deposits and 2 pm for deposits made in person. Add one business day for checks you deposit after the cutoff. The general schedule:

One business day for federal, state, and local government checks, electronic payments (like direct deposit of a paycheck or Social Security check), postal money order, cash, personal check drawn on the same bank, cashier’s check, and certified checks. To get one day access, certain checks have to be deposited in person or sometimes on special deposit slips. Ask about this if your timing is critical.

Two business days for local checks.

Five business days for out of town checks.

On checks deposited on a business day (not Saturday) in the bank’s own ATM: one business day for US Treasury checks; 2 business days for cash, local checks, cashier’s checks, and state and local government checks, and 5 business days for out of town checks.

On checks deposited in an ATM not owned or operated by your bank: 5 business days.

On checks you mail to the bank: one business day after receipt by the bank for US Treasury checks; 2 days for cashier’s checks, postal money orders, and local checks including the checks of your own state and local governments; 5 days for out of town checks, at many institutions, most of these rules are irrelevant.

Joint Property For Unmarried

It passes automatically to the other without a will and without probate. This is a strong case only for committed couples, gay couples, for example, whose families disapprove of the relationship and might challenge a will. A carefully drawn will usually can’t be broken, however, except by a surviving spouse who was not left the share of the property required by state law.

It is a sign of a good faith.

It is convenient. A mother and daughter living together may want a joint account for household bills.

The strong case against

If you want to take your property out of joint names and the other person refuses, you may have the devil’s own time getting it back. Only bank accounts are simple to reclaim. You just take the money out (unless the other person got there first). Either owner can empty a joint bank account. You would have to sue to get your money back.

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You might need both signatures to sell an investment or to cash a check for the proceeds of a sale. What if your ex-mate gets sore or leaves town?

Say you put your investments in joint names with your son, who manages them for you. His business goes broke. His half of your property could be attached to pay his debts. (He can manage your money just as well with a power of attorney or through a trust.)

The relationship might end but not joint ownership. For example, say that you and a boyfriend own a house together. Even if the boyfriend buys you out, you are still on the mortgage and are fully responsible for the debt. Only the lender can release you and the lender may refuse to do so. If your boyfriend (ex-boyfriend) quits paying the mortgage without your knowledge, the default will show up on your credit report. Ditto any liens that your ex’s creditors put on the house. If the bank comes after you for the mortgage payments, you will be supporting your ex-boyfriend’s real estate investment and getting nothing in return (unless a written agreement allows you to force the sale of the house to recover the money you put up).

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All joint property is taxed in the estate of the first owner to die, except for anything that the survivor can prove he or she paid for. These rules, incidentally, apply only to joint owners who are not married.

Lovers and Other Roommates

You are splitters. Each handles personal expenses and you work out a system for paying joint bills included car title pawn. A 50/50 split is fair only if your incomes are roughly equal. If one of you earns two-thirds of your combined income, that person should assume two-thirds of the rent and two third of the grocery bills. Otherwise, the one with the smaller paycheck is subsidizing the other. If there is going to be any subsidy at all, it should be from the richer to the poorer, not the other way around.

Long time lovers drift toward pooling some of their money. Still, you often live on the tips of your toes, almost ready to run. So for property that is hard to unwind, separate ownership is best. If you buy a piece of real estate together, do it as tenants in common. Write an agreement for sharing expenses: how you will divide the taxes, insurance, and mortgage payments. What happens if one person quits paying his or her share? If the relationship fails, how will you get your money out? Will you put the house on the market and divide the proceeds according to the percentage each person put up? Will one person buy the other out and if so, which? How will you determine the price? A lawyer should draw up these agreements (preferably two lawyers, one of each of you). You will never think of all the contingencies yourself. You should also have the contractual right to force the sale of the house if you are having to shoulder more of the cost than you bargained for.

I one of you dies, will his or her share be willed to the other or would a written contract be a safer choice (remember that minds, and wills, can change)?

Ever since the Lee Marvin case in 1979, which raised the possibility of suing for “palimony,” that issue has hung over live in relationships. If, say, the man works and the woman gives up her job to follow him, does she have a right to support if they fall out? Should one partner get some of the money that the other accumulated during their relationship? Denver attorney William Cantwell has been thinking about this problem for a while and offers you his “Wallet Card NonMarvinizing Agreement,” to be signed by both parties at car title pawn Atlanta.

Low Income

Low Income

Low  Income

Economy or no frills checking; these accounts are for people who keep low average balances and write just a few checks a month and pay at Atlanta title pawn. There is usually a small monthly fee and, often, access to your account by way of an automated teller machine. The first 10 or 15 checks may be free, with fees of 50 cents or more for each check over the limit (if you write a lot of checks, you should be in regular checking). This simplified service is offered by about half the banks, although it may be restricted to students or the elderly.

If you sometimes bounce checks or want to have instant credit on tap, go for: Overdraft Checking; This lets you write checks for more money than you have in your checking account. At some banks, checks will be covered with funds switched from your savings account. At others, the checks are paid with a loan on which you are charged 10 to 16 percent. Some banks lend only in $50 increments, so if you write a check for $7 more than you have, you will have to borrow $50 to cover it. Monthly repayments may be deducted from your account automatically. The right to use overdraft checking may come free or it may cost you $15 to $20 a year plus a fee every time funds are transferred. In either case, you pay interest on the loan amount. The fees ain’t cheap, but they’re cheaper than bouncing a check.

Free checking: No bank can advertise that its checking account is free unless it truly is. That means no monthly maintenance fees, no per check fees, and no fees for falling below the minimum balance. The only allowable charges are those for ATM use, bounced or stopped checks, printing checks, and a few other minor items.

Money market mutual funds; these, too, are normally for investors. Rates of interest change daily but are always higher than those on the banks interest-paying checking accounts. The funds that offer checking (about half of them do) charge lower fees than banks and zero for falling below the minimum balance. You can arrange to have your paycheck deposited directly. Most won’t cash checks smaller than $100, so they are no good for everyday checking. But at this writing, a couple takes checks in any amount. You may want to use your money fund as a small business checking account or use Atlanta title pawn.

Minimum Balance At All Times

Interest Paying Checking; you earn a wee interest rate on your idle balances at this writing, around 1 to 1.5 percent. That might be a fixed rate or a variable rate set by the bank. But there are usually no check processing charges or monthly fees. Average minimum balances run in the area of $1,000 to $5,000. If you fall below the minimum or, in some cases, write more than a specified number of checks, fees start to mount.

Some banks “tier” these accounts. The interest you earn, and the fees you pay, vary from month to month, depending on how much money you keep in the bank or how much business you do there.

Bundle Accounts; Your checking account may be “bundled” with other banking services, like free travelers checks, a line of credit at no annual fee, a credit card with a one-year waiver on the fee, discounts on loans, and a quarter-point interest bonus on various savings deposits. You get the whole package for a single low fee or no fee at all.

Asset Management Accounts; these are for the active investor who wants an easy way to keep track of their cash. They generally combine a money market account (which doubles as an interest paying checking account) with a brokerage account and a credit or debit card. With asset management:

Your cash earns a higher interest rate than you’d get from regular interest paying checking. Usually it’s a money market rate, although some institutions pay less.

You can draw on your money with a special checkbook or a debit card (checks may have to be written for a minimum of $250 or more).

You may get a credit card, which can trigger a loan against any stocks you own.

A single monthly statement shows all your investment and banking transactions.

All dividends and interest are automatically reinvested.

You may get access to your funds through and ATM network.

Some accounts offer and automatic bill paying service and let you arrange to have your paycheck deposited electronically.

The minimum deposit for asset management accounts (including the value of your stocks and bonds): $1,000 to as much as $25,000. Annual fees run from zero to $125. Asset management accounts are offered by a few big banks, brokerage houses, some mutual funds, and a few insurance companies. When you’re not with a bank, you may have to wait up to 15 days for the checks to clear.

Check Facts

To cash checks at a branch other than your own, get a signature card. When you endorse a check (that is, sign your name on the back) it becomes as good as money and can be cashed by anyone who finds it. To prevent that, endorse it with instructions: “Pay to the order of Sarah May” or “For deposit only.” When accepting an endorsed check from someone else, ask him or her to write “pay to the order of (you)” so that if you lose it neither of you will be out the money.

Endorse checks on the back, at the left-hand end, in the first inch and half of space. If you signature is anywhere else, the bank may ask you to sign again. Most checks now carry a line to show where your signature goes.

Technically, a check may be good for years. But in practice, the bank might refuse any check that is more than one year old. That is if the bank notices.

If you write a check and wish you had not, call your bank and ask it to stop payment. Your account should be flagged right away, but you have to follow up with written authorization, usually by filing stop check form. The cost: $15, on average, but sometimes as much as $30. A stop payment lasts for a limited period of time but can be renewed. If the check slips through, the bank takes responsibility for it. The stop check form should spell out the rules.

You can arrange for regular, automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account. Interest earned on your certificates of deposit can be deposited into either account.

If someone forges your signature on a check and the bank cashes it, you are entitled to a 100 percent reimbursement. It does not matter that you failed to report that your checkbook was stolen (although you should have). It does not matter that you kept your checks with your credit cards, which carry your signature. In most cases, it is the bank’s absolute responsibility to guard against forgery. Some banks blame you and refuse to pay, in which case you should write directly to the bank’s president and to its state of a federal regulator.You have a responsibility, too. If you do not report a forgery within 14 days after the bank mailed your statement, and fraudulent checks continue to be cashed by the same person, the later losses are all yours.

Singleness Defines Rules

Whether never married or formerly married, your singleness defines the rules. You are a keeper because you can own everything yourself, no fuss, no muss. All you need is a reliable friend or relative to hold your durable (or springing) power of attorney and your health care proxy. That person could write checks on your bank account, manage your investments, and deal with your doctors if you were incapable (say, in a coma after the auto accident, God forbid).

That’s when you are young. When you age, you may not be quite so independent and sometimes ownership enters in. For example, you might give half of your house to your son and his family if they will live there with you. Or you might put your niece’s name on your bank account if she helps you do your taxes and pay your bills. If your son is a good egg and your niece is a doll, co-ownership can work.

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But what if your son gets a new job and moves? The house might have to be sold to give him the money to buy a new one. What if he gets divorced? His have of your house might have to be divided with his ex-wife. What if your nice niece falls for a bounder who persuades her to nip a bit of your money? A co-owner of a bank account can take every penny unless you specifically require both signatures for withdrawal, which, for daily bills, gets tiresome. You can sue a co-owner for withdrawing more than he or she deposited but the last thing you want, late in life, is to get tangled up in lawsuits with your relatives.

You can escape from a co-owned bank account that you have come to regret just by taking your money out. But it is a lot harder to get back your house once you have given half of it away. With a house, you might also get into a fight over who should live there or how much to spend on repairs to get more information read more. Then there is the fairness issue. A joint owner with right of survivorship gets the property, regardless of what it says in your will or trust. Say, for example, that your will leaves everything equally to your daughter, Tammis, and son, David. Then you add David to your bank account. He gets every penny of it when you die.

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Bank Products

Bank Products

Bank Products

Banks are now urging their customers to buy mutual funds, tax-deferred annuities and car title loan. They note when your CDs are coming due and call you with a sales pitch. You might visit with someone you think is a banker and never learn that he or she is actually a broker angling to sell you a product and earn a commission. Your friendly teller may have to refer you to these brokers in order to keep his or her job. At some banks, you will get a full and fair explanation of annuities and mutual funds. But don’t count on it. All too often, the operation reeks of deceptive sales. How bad is it? The American Banker, an industry trade paper, once sent reporters posing as mutual fund customers into ten banks. Reps at eight of those banks “forgot” to mention that mutual funds aren’t federally insured; only a few of them disclosed fees; most downplayed the investment risk; some illegally forecast specific (and double digit) gains; one even suggested that mutual funds were like CDs but with higher yields.

Similar surveys using “mystery shoppers” keep turning up similar results. Some customers don’t realize they’ve bought mutual funds or annuities, don’t understand the risks, and find out too late that there is a stiff penalty for withdrawing money before several years have passed. In one case I am familiar with, a 92 year old man was sold an annuity with withdrawal fees lasting until he was 99. He thought he was buying a high rate CD.

According to federal guidelines, banks are supposed to:

Tell you that mutual funds and annuities are not backed by the bank or by the federal deposit insurance.

Tell you that the performance of mutual funds and annuities is not guaranteed.

Tell you that your interest and principal may be at risk.

Sell in an area clearly separate from the rest of the bank, with no FDIC signs anywhere near.

Sell you investments appropriate to your age and financial circumstances.

Industry guidelines add that all sales commissions, surrender charges, and other fees should be fully disclosed.

Your banker’s IQ

How often does interest compound? “Compounding” means that the bank adds the interest you earn to your account and then pays interest on the combined interest and principal. The more often your interest is compounded, the more money you make at car title loan.

Test Your Banker’s IQ

A good banker should be able to answer all seven of the following questions. If you get a blank look or a gentle drift of oral fog asks again. You’re entitled to a clear and simple statement that makes sense. If you don’t understand what the banker is saying, don’t blame yourself. Blame the banker, who probably doesn’t have all the facts and is covering up. If you had $10 for every “expert” who wasn’t, you would be rich.

Ask: With interest paying checking, what does the banking institution pay interest on? By law, it must pay on the money that is in your account at the end of each day. That is “day of deposit to day of withdrawal.” But some truly pay on each check from the day you put it in. Others pay only on the collected balance or on the Atlanta car title loans, which means you get no interest until the check has provisionally cleared. That usually takes one or two days but sometimes more.

Some banks advertise more than one rate, depending on the size of your deposit. They might pay 1.5 percent on balances up to $1,000 and 2.7 percent on larger amounts. But what exactly does that mean? There is a good way and a bad way to figure it.

Say, for example, that you deposit $2,500. You might get 2.7 percent on the whole amount, usually called a tiered rate. That is good. Or you might get 1.5 percent on the first $1,000 and 2.7 percent only on the remaining $1,500, usually called a blended rate. That is bad. In fact, it is a clip job. Avoid blended rates.

Ask: What is the penalty for falling below the minimum balance? The fee might exceed the interest that your account is likely to earn. If you cannot be sure of maintaining the minimum balance, switch to an account with a lower minimum, for example, a no interest paying account.

Ask: Can the bank truncate your checking account? With truncation, you get a monthly list of the checks you wrote but not the canceled checks themselves. If you need a copy of a check to prove that you made a particular payment, the bank might send it to you for free or might charge $1 to $5. Most customers like to get canceled checks, but you rarely need them. Truncated accounts are often cheaper; the bank may waive the monthly fee and minimum balance at title loans in Atlanta.