Your Email Questions

Two email questions from the Okanagan in the last few weeks that are worth talking about. After all, if one person takes the time to email a question, there’s a rule of thumb that 100 others are wondering the same thing.

The first one is from someone asking if she can use the simple $20 will kit from Staples. She’s single, but has ‘complicated assets’ as she describes it.

Yes, that kit should be fine. The will is your wishes of who gets what asset or what percentage of your total estate, whether it’s complicated or not. The second part is that it decides on an executor. That’s the quarterback, with the help of an estate lawyer to make sure it’s all legal and correct, who steps into your position. In other words, that person now has control of liquidating the assets, keeping them in place, etc. Complicated or not isn’t really part of your will. It’s picking the person to do that and deciding where your estate goes. (if complicated is a mixed family, businesses, partnerships, a trust, or the likes, spending a few hundred bucks with a lawyer will be well worth it, instead. Better safe than leaving your loved ones sorry…)

The second email is a really good question. The person has a used SUV with 188,000 km on it. Should he trade it now for another newer-used vehicle or keep driving it? Now remember that I always only answer questions of what I would do, because I never have all the information, details, and other factors.

There’s kind of a psychological wall at 200,000 km. That’s when it seems to buyers that the vehicle is really really used. Under 200k, means you’ll likely get a few more bucks if you do sell it. Dealers aren’t interested in something that old. Trade ins have to go through their service department, and the little things, the safety inspection, etc. are too expensive to recover. They also don’t want the reputational hit of selling something that old. In other words – never trade something older than five or six years old. Dealers will just call a wholesaler to get rid of it immediately and it’ll end up on what’s called a mud-lot – a very very used car independent dealer.

My main decision factor is whether my vehicle is reliable. That’s my number one concern. If you’re not sure, have a mechanic check it out. That $100 or so doesn’t guarantee another few years of driving, but it’ll help you decide what you should do. The other question is what would you replace it with? If you can sell yours privately for $6,000 and get a newer one with 100,000 less km on it for $1,500 or so – that may be worth it. If you’ll just end up spending more money on another one with mileage just as high – that wouldn’t make sense. So there isn’t a black or white answer, and I sure wish there was a guaranteed predictor of reliability. But even if you need some repairs, Consumer Report uses the rule of thumb that it’s fine to spend about half the value on repairs before you should bail and replace it.

George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com

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