Jill on Money: Index funds, retirement, inheritance

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Although real estate appears to be bottoming, there's still plenty of hurt from the bad old days. Vince is upside down on his home, which he co-owns with a partner. Making matters even more complicated, some of his family members guaranteed his mortgage. Kyle from Georgia got caught up in the euphoria of the real estate bubble and now finds himself with two homes. Both needed help understanding their options.

Charlie from MD is thinking about early retirement and wanted to know whether he could make it on his Social Security and income from his retirement account. After learning more about his situation, it seemed like grinding out work until his SS full retirement age.

Jeff and his sister each received an inheritance of $120,000. Because their circumstances vary widely, the advice for the lump sum is different for each. His sister needs to pay off some of her debt, while Jeff can concentrate on beefing up his emergency reserve fund and investing in a retirement account. Dave from Des Moines also inherited a CD and needed some guidance about what to do with the money. How about an investment that has a guaranteed 7.8 percent interest rate?

26 year old Patrick from NJ needed help with his 401k allocation, now that he has paid off all of his student loans and has established an ample emergency reserve fund. The first bit of advice is to increase his contribution amount and then to reduce the cost of investing inside the 401k with index funds.

Mary from MD wanted an explanation of index funds and wondered how to use them for her retirement assets.

Kay is considering retirement prior to age 60 and will downsize their home to help with the process. Should they have a mortgage on the smaller home? Also, what should do with their out-of-state rental properties? How should they diversify? With all of these questions, I suggested that she consider working with an investment advisor or a CFP.

Gary has the ability to purchase long-term care through his employer - should he? Although many companies are exiting the long-term care insurance business, they will continue to service existing contracts.

Here are web sites and resources mentioned in this week's show:

-- Jill's Blog

-- NAPFA: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (fee-only advisors)

--HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program)

--Long-term Care - US government web site

-- Long term care conundrum

-- Retirement Calculator

--Financial documents: What to shred, what to keep

-- Estate Planning: the Documents You Need

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Mark, the BEST producer in the world. If you have a financial question, there are lots of ways to contact us:

Call 855-411-JILL and we'll schedule time to get you on the show LIVE

Send an email: askjill@moneywatch.com

Tweet me: @jillonmoney

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.