Smart Money: Spousal payment decision takes time

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DEAR BRUCE >> What takes a judge so long to determine spousal monthly maintenance? It has been nine months since I received any. Thank God I had inheritance money I could use. My husband was giving me $25,000 per month.

— P.M.

DEAR P.M. >> I have no way of telling what is taking the judge so long. But if you're talking about a $300,000-a-year payment, then it requires a good deal of information. Now if your husband is filthy rich, then $25,000 isn't a lot of money, but if he is not so well-to-do, $300,000 is a big burden and the judge will have to defend that burden; he will have to take a good deal of time in considering all the factors involved. You can inquire of him as to what is taking so long, but in the courts calendar, a year or two is not a long period of time. To the person waiting for the judgment, it can seem like a lifetime.

DEAR BRUCE >> I just quit my job after four years due to the company bringing in new management. Can I still collect unemployment?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> Yes, you may be able to collect even if you quit, although the period of time will vary from state to state. In some cases, if you were fired without any justification, you can collect almost immediately, but if you wish to leave and then collect, you may have to wait six to eight weeks. You should inquire at your local unemployment office to learn the details.

DEAR BRUCE >> I am a 68-year-old retired divorcee who owns her home and has no outstanding debts. I have two separate retirement accounts totaling $700,000. Each of these retirement account programs has its own "financial adviser."

My CPA/accountant offered to do my financial planning for a fee of 1 percent. That seems like a big fee to me. Do I need to have one financial planner manage my accounts or should I leave well enough alone?

— Lydia

DEAR LYDIA >> It occurs to me that with that amount of money, you should certainly have an adviser of one kind or another. Someone who operates on only a percentage basis may get 1, 2 or 3 percent, and justifying the fee would depend on how well the adviser does. An overall fee of 2 percent would be reasonable if the account does well. I would be surprised at a 1 percent fee, as it seems very reasonable to me.

In any case, with that kind of money, I wouldn't try to slug it out on my own.

DEAR BRUCE >> What is the difference between someone who is licensed and someone who is certified?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> Licensing is required in many fields. For example, if you are a barber, you're expected to pay a fee for the privilege of having a license to work as a barber. Certification indicates a level of competency.

Certain conditions are required for becoming licensed or certified, such as specialized training, experience in the craft, etc. No specific comparison can be made because the requirements vary depending upon the craft being practiced or the service being provided.

Send questions to bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.


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