How to hide (and find) assets

Posted November 16, 2011 at 3:47 am

Layers of companies can serve to mask the owners of assets, but be careful whom you alienate

by Martin S. Kenney

Hiding assets and finding assets are reverse sides of the same coin. Everybody seems to use the same techniques. No. 1, you look to set up a family trust in Nevis or the Cook Islands. It’s better there because of secrecy laws and laws that emasculate creditors’ rights.

So let’s say I owe you $10 million and I don’t want to give it to you. I give it to a Nevetian trustee for my benefit and say I want to invest it in a cattle ranch in Montana and in stocks and bonds. The trust subscribes to share capital in a long chain of companies in 5 or 10 jurisdictions offshore, like Jersey and Guernsey.

Secrecy makes the relationship between the assets and the U.S. more remote.

Beyond Nevis, the British Virgin Islands are popular. In addition to some confidentiality, they’re cheap. Bermuda is more expensive, but it’s the king of offshore insurance.

Cayman is for offshore banking. Another option is to use layers of companies to mask the owners of the assets. One of my cases involves ownership of office buildings in Canada. They were owned by a series of numbered companies.

You don’t need a name there, just a [continue]…

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Part-time nanny helps end Bank of America fee

Posted November 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Part-time nanny credited with ending debit card fee; she led petition against Bank of America

by Ben Nuckols

Recent college graduate Molly Katchpole has $2,200 to her name, holds down two part-time jobs — one of them as a nanny — and describes her financial situation as paycheck-to-paycheck.

So when Bank of America announced that it would begin charging debit card users a $5 monthly fee, Katchpole got mad and started an online petition. More than 300,000 people signed it.

And on Tuesday, the nation’s second-largest bank backed down.

Now the 22-year-old is getting the credit for the end of the debit card fee.

Katchpole is a Rhode Island native who lives in Washington, where she does freelance work for a political communications firm that supports unions and other Democratic-leaning causes. She describes herself as a progressive and says she stands in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

She has a tattoo below her collarbone that reads: “Empathy.”

“I believe that is the most important quality that a person can have, is the ability to empathize with others,” she said. “When I first started the petition, and even now, people were saying, `Just close your bank account and go to another bank.’ I think people are forgetting that not everybody can easily close their bank and join a credit union. There are some neighborhoods in this country where there’s only one bank.”

Shortly after Bank of America announced plans a month ago to start charging the fee, she put the petition on [continue]…

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The home ownership “dream” is an easy sell.

Posted October 19, 2011 at 2:33 am

by Chris Tell

Home ownership is the most popular religion of the 21st century. It’s even more popular than stupidity and that’s saying something.

If you wish to become a pariah amongst your fellow natives simply tell them that owning a home is not an investment, then tell them it’s potentially one of the dumbest things they can do with their capital, then duck for cover.

Those who by choice rent are a fringe group that surely can’t have all their internal organs in the correct place. Maybe they need examining? Heart? Yep, brain? Yep, lungs? Yep, radiator… ah found the problem!

It’s promoted from every level of society, and even agnostics and atheists are devout believers. Keeping the rubes in one location, and tied to that location, serves the interests of bankers and politicians extraordinarily well. “Citizens of the State” should be renamed “Serfs of the kingdom.”

What better means of achieving this than getting said rubes to willingly chain themselves to an immovable, illiquid item for an eternity?

There’s no need to follow this pattern, it’s not the 18th century anymore. Technology has changed our world and how assets are valued. I contend that assets which can be moved easily hold increasing value over those that are fixed.

The home ownership “dream” is an easy sell. Can you imagine if Citizen Joe was so flexible as to be able at any time to say, “the hell with your rules and regulations, I’m outta here.”  – Not optimal.

Citizen Joe might find that he can play in [continue]…

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Throwing money down the drain, by renting?

Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

via Business Insider

People generally buy property in hopes that they will be better off financially down the road than if they did not buy property.

However, for many people, it’s better to skip property ownership and stay a renter – at least for a while.

If you find yourself in any of the following scenarios, you may be someone who is better off as a renter than a homeowner.

Scenario 1:

Whether you buy or sell a home, real estate has significant transaction costs. If you want to come out ahead financially, the value increase of the property you buy has to be more than the total transaction cost of the deal.

The chart below shows a two-year ownership scenario with the property going up in value 3.5% per year – a healthy projected increase in value – and then taking out typical costs on the buy and sell.

Notice how the owner put in $35,000 to buy and is left with only $25,440 in the bank after two years.

Look at all those transaction costs, $5,000 + $8,560 is $13,560 or 13.5% of the $100,000 purchase price.

It is clear to see that this person would be [continue]…

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25 Ways to Waste Your Money

Posted September 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Plug your financial leaks, and pocket the savings.

by Erin Burt

Nearly everyone has spending holes. And as with other kinds of leaks, you may have hardly noticed them. But those small drips can quickly add up to big bucks.

The trick is to find the holes and plug them so you can keep more money in your pocket. That extra cash could be the ticket to finally being able to save, invest, or break your cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck.

Here are 25 common ways people waste money [continue]…

See if any of these sound familiar, then look for ways to plug your own leaks

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Higher learning – up to 75% off US pricing

Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:34 am

by Simon Black

Graduate schooling can be even more painful. Top MBA programs can charge $50,000 per year or more, and for those who still cling to the idea of working their way up the corporate ladder, this has become a necessary step.

Especially now in the midst of a severe recession, it has become a new trend for people to head back to school, firm up their credentials, and wait out the economic downturn.

I have a better solution for you to consider: head overseas.

Going to a school overseas ticks a lot of boxes– for one, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper, and you don’t emerge deep in debt like you would back home.

Second, the quality of the education is as good if not better than what you would otherwise receive.

Third, and most importantly, it’s just more interesting. The experience abroad will be much more fulfilling, and it will distinguish you from the pool of other candidates who all have generic resumes.

Let’s say you’re an Ivy League type. Why pay Harvard $52,000 per year when you can go to the University of Cambridge in England for around $19,000 per year? Cambridge is consistently rated as one of the top universities in the world: same quality education, a fraction of the price.

If that sounds like too much, consider a place like Hong Kong University. Tuition at Asia’s top school is around $15,000 per year, and there are plenty of scholarships and financial aid packages available. Not to mention you’d be networking with future movers and shakers in the region.

Still too much? Look at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, whose Rotterdam School of Management is one of the top business schools in Europe. Tuition in the all-English program is around $11,500 per year, 73% less than Notre Dame’s Mendoza School, and 26% less than Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Still too much? Try Qatar University, where there are numerous English-language programs in disciplines such as business and engineering. Tuition for foreign undergraduates is just $4,000 annually, and you’d be spending formative years in one of the world’s most thriving, opportunity-rich economies.

Still too much? Try Albert Einstein’s Alma Mater, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. If you make the cut, ETH’s tuition fee is a whopping $750 per semester for both undergraduate and graduate programs, and the school is typically ranked among Europe’s top 5 universities.

Here’s the bottom line:

If you’re facing an uphill battle for prospects and opportunities, get creative; don’t simply follow the same path that everyone else is taking. The world is a big place– stop limiting yourself by geography and start looking overseas for solutions.

[ Source: SovereignMan.com ]

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Why a falling credit score is not the end of the world

Posted August 30, 2011 at 12:27 am

by J.D. Roth

This guest post from Matt is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This is a rare reader story that appeared elsewhere first. I saw it on Matt’s blog last week and asked if I could reprint it because it addresses an issue people often wonder about.

A couple years ago as I was getting a credit report from Experian (I was about to buy a new car and wondered where I stood credit-wise), I signed up for one of their monthly tracking features. I justified this because I’d had a credit card number stolen and wanted to watch my credit records for a while, even though I knew the $15/month was a bit of a waste.

Over the past year or so, I’ve watched my credit score start lower than I remember it being and go lower, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s largely a joke.

The same old story

My credit history is pretty ordinary: I started out in 1993 with one of those credit cards that come with a free t-shirt and frisbee in college, mostly because I was amazed anyone would give me credit. The introductory $500 limit quickly went to $2000 when I put some ski trips on the card, and I always carried credit at about 35-40% of the card’s limit.

After college, I continued to [continue]…

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The family who got hold of $40 million in gold coins

Posted August 29, 2011 at 3:55 am

by Susan Berfield

The most valuable coin in the world sits in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan. It’s Exhibit 18E, secured in a bulletproof glass case with an alarm system and an armed guard nearby. The 1933 Double Eagle, considered one of the rarest and most beautiful coins in America, has a face value of $20—and a market value of $7.6 million. It was among the last batch of gold coins ever minted by the U.S. government. The coins were never issued; most of the nearly 500,000 cast were melted down to bullion in 1937.

Most, but not all. Some of the coins slipped out of the Philadelphia Mint before then. No one knows for sure exactly how they got out or even how many got out. The U.S. Secret Service, responsible for protecting the nation’s currency, has been pursuing them for nearly 70 years, through 13 Administrations and 12 different directors.

The investigation has spanned three continents and involved some of the most famous coin collectors in the world, a confidential informant, a playboy king, and a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. It has inspired two novels, two nonfiction books, and a television documentary. And much of it has centered around a coin dealer, dead since 1990, whose shop is still open in South Philadelphia, run by his 82-year-old daughter.

“The 1933 Double Eagle is one of the most intriguing coins of all time,” says Jay Brahin, an investment adviser who has been collecting coins since he was a kid in Philadelphia. “It’s a freak. The coins shouldn’t have been minted, but they were. They weren’t meant to circulate, but some did. And why has the government pursued them so arduously? That’s one of the mysteries.”

The story begins just after the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt on Mar. 4, 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression.

Thousands of banks had [continue]…

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Using life insurance as an investment? Really?

Posted July 20, 2011 at 2:55 am

by Liz Davidson

Every once in a while we get a call on our Financial Helpline from someone whose financial adviser recommended that they invest in a permanent life insurance policy (including whole, universal, or variable universal life).

The adviser’s pitch can sound compelling. Why purchase temporary term life insurance that you’ll likely never use? Isn’t that like throwing money away?

With permanent life insurance, part of your premiums are invested and some of it can be borrowed tax-free for retirement, or your children’s college education, or anything else you’d like and your heirs will get a nice death benefit when you pass away.

But is it really always as great as it sounds? If you listen to financial “gurus” like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, you’re likely to come away thinking that the only person who benefits is the insurance salesmen who reaps a big commission.

As with many controversies, the truth is somewhere in between.

Whether it makes sense in your particular situation, depends on several factors [continue]…

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Twelve Non-Recourse States Let You Walk Away From Your Mortgage

Posted July 8, 2011 at 2:04 am

by Financial Samurai

Refinancing now is generally a wonderful idea as jumbo loans are back to all time lows.  That said, what happens if you are so underwater on your mortgage that you feel it doesn’t make sense to continue paying anymore because you don’t think value will ever recover?  Banks have become so annoyingly stubborn regarding allowing underwater homeowners to refinance, that you might have a better way.

Have you ever wondered why there have been so many foreclosures in states such as California, Nevada and Flordia?  I’ll tell you.  If you live in one of the 12 “non-recourse” states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington you are in luck! 

If you so happen to own property in one of these states, and have substantial assets elsewhere, you can legally hand over the keys to the bank and exonerate yourself from the mortgage with no penalty against your other assets!

An example about getting in over your head and bailing here…

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