Selling and Donating Cars


Last March, ten months ago, I found exactly the car that I was looking for – A red Subaru Forester (see the post A New Car). I bought it the day after it magically appeared on the dealer’s lot close to my new town home (although I had NOT purchased the house yet). It has been the perfect car to meet my needs.

At the time that I bought the Subaru, it made me the proud owner of FOUR cars…the one that I now drive, my daughter’s ancient Mazda Protégé, the little red Mazda 6 that had been my husband’s 60th birthday present to himself, and a vintage Toyota Previa van.

In that ten month period, I had disposed of the Previa by donating it to a local charity. They provided a letter stating that they were able to use it in their exempt purpose, even inviting me to the blessing ceremony, where the keys were handed over to the new owner. The Internal Revenue Service has very specific rules on the deductibility of donated vehicles (See IRS Notice 2005-44). It explains that if the charity resells the vehicle, the donor’s deduction is limited to the actual sales price of the vehicle when it is sold by the charity. However, the donor may claim a deduction of the vehicle’s fair market value if the charity makes a “significant intervening use of the vehicle, such as using it to deliver meals on wheels”.  The difference in the deduction is between $250 or $2000.

AND – on Friday, my brother was able to sell the Mazda 6 to CarMax. One of the great gifts I have received in the last ten months is a series of meetings with two professionals. One is a CPA who has been a friend and colleague for many years.  The second is a Wealth Planner whose clientele include a significant number of widows. Even with my background in finance, I do not know how I could have managed the financial challenges without their continuing sound advice. At our last meeting, I was bemoaning the fact that I had not been able to find a buyer for the Mazda 6.  Both suggested taking the car to Car Max (they had both done that in the past).  I had not even considered that option, thinking that because they were going to resell the car, the price that they offered would be very low.

HERE ARE THE FACTS related to my Mazda 6.  When I purchased the new Subaru, they offered me only $4500 to trade in the Mazda.  Last week at CarMax, I was offered $8000 (and that was ten months later!) So…DO NOT automatically trade in an older car when purchasing a new one! Make sure you at least get a quote from CarMax! They made an offer that was good for seven days.  My brother was selling the car for me. It provided enough time for me to sign the title and send it overnight it to him in another city. Now, strangely enough, when he presented the notarized title, they demanded a Power of Attorney as well (which I also sent by FedEx).  We have an excellent Credit Union in town where I keep my more liquid funds.  I had walked in the first day with the title, and they notarized it for no fee.  The SECOND time I went in, the attorney I had spoken with the day before said, “They don’t need the Power of Attorney!” I just smiled at him and asked him to please provide the document, which he did, again for no fee.  One thing that I have learned over the last ten months is that it is much simpler to provide information which people request than try to convince them that they really don’t need it!

I currently own only TWO cars, instead of FOUR.

Now, if I could just reduce the number of houses from two to one I would be in great shape!

Menacing Medical Bills (2)


Today I received a follow-up from an earlier call related to outstanding medical bills.  The Hospital’s initial bill showed a balance due of $637. I had called and told them that my husband was enrolled in Medicare Part B as well as his Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance (BCBS), an answer which satisfied all the other outstanding medical bills from the first calls.

My total emergency room (ER) Explanation of Benefits (EOB) showed two amounts not paid by insurance –

Copayment of $291

Coinsurance of $345.

The Copayment is a fixed amount charged whenever you use a particular service (like that $20 you have to pay each time you fill a prescription).

The Coinsurance is a percentage of the total cost of the service (in this case, about 10%).

Next I called the Human Resources Department of my husband’s employer (he was a State employee) and asked if his share of the ER bill at $637 was correct. The State provided the BCBS coverage.  I knew it had required him to enroll in Medicare Part A (it is available premium free if you have 40 calendar quarters of work in which you paid Social Security – my husband had 40 years with the State).

The HR department provided the “big picture” – Part A pays for inpatient hospital visits, Part B helps with other medical services, and Part D assists with prescriptions.  He had Part A only (free). The Part B premium is $105 per month, so he did not have that coverage.

Sooooo…it looks like the copay and deductible are “reasonable” at 10%, so I am pulling out my checkbook. I am very glad it was NOT twenty percent!

Menacing Medical Bills


This morning was an amazingly positive experience. After talking with a cousin that assists with insurance challenges, I attacked the four medical bills for my husband’s fatal heart attack –  LabCorp, cardiologist, ambulance, hospital – about $5000 outstanding. After making it through all the telephone trees, I was able to talk to a person on the first call with all of them except the hospital.  There, I had to wait for a return call, then navigate another phone tree to finally talk to a person. Altogether, it took about an hour for the process with the four bills. Thankfully, my husband’s insurance seems to be paying everything in two tiers.  He was a state employee, and Blue Cross was the primary payer.  AND, because he was over 65, Medicare was the secondary payer. Prior to this morning, none of the billing entities knew about the Medicare. Between the two insurers, what I heard today was that there will be no outstanding balance once Medicare makes their payments. Unfortunately, when my husband died, we also lost our health insurance.  The only way that my 23-year-old daughter and I were able to get reasonably priced coverage was through the Affordable Care Act. My husband was with the same employer for 32 years, while I changed every two or three years to work in nonprofits with infrastructure challenges. Through the Act we have gotten excellent, reasonably priced coverage . The one negative outcome is dental insurance.  We have the best dentist in the country and I am not willing to give that practice up to use one available through the Affordable Care Act. I have decided to stay with our great dentist (for 20 years) and gamble that there will be no major catastrophic event. This process has shown itself to be a continuation of the uncanny coincidences and positive experiences that have happened since I became widowed.

Interviewing Financial Advisers


One person that I hope to find is an adviser that is honestly interested in assisting women to take charge of their assets, whether they are financial, real estate, or other property. This would involve some sort of tool that, with a minimum of detailed input, would give the client a good feel for the assets she holds,  their true value, and their liquidity. Then when a decision about purchases, investments, or sales was required, she would be able to make it with a complete picture of what that would mean to her over an extended period of time. If she had to raise cash, she would have already planned for its source, anticipated when those needs might occur, and their true cost in the short and long term. So far, I have met with three different representatives, presenting them with this challenge.  It will be interesting to see what results my search yields!

Finally – Insurance proceeds


Insurance money has finally arrived! Now I am able to start methodically paying bills and repaying a family loan that helped me through the thirty days while I waited for cash to arrive. Also started is the search for an excellent fee-only financial planner who can help me with a workable and meaningful personal plan.

New Health Insurance


One of the first challenges that I faced was finding new health care. My husband had been a state employee for many years, and my college-attending daughter and I had always had coverage under the state employees health plan.  The first meeting with the Human Resources Department informed me that we would be covered through the end of April, and could COBRA the state health care for a year at over $1000 a month.  Obviously, that was not a viable option.  Thank goodness, this happened the day before the Affordable Care Act deadline.  Luckily, a friend was one of the advisers helping people with ACA implementation, and enrolled us under the deadline.  Yesterday, we received our new Blue Cross cards in the mail (with 6 days to spare).