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Drivers who use hands-free devices while driving are safer than those who talk or text. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) recently conducted a study that indicates drivers who use hands-free devices may even save lives. However, the use of hands-free devices still comes with an increased risk of accidents. Drivers should be aware of the dangers of distracted driving and the potential problems and liabilities that might result.

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Are Hand-Held Devices Safer than Regular Phone Usage?

VTTI’s recent study suggests that any activity that causes a driver to take his or her eyes off the road or hands off the wheel leads to a substantially increased crash risk. Therefore, drivers who use a hand-held phone are much more likely to cause an accident. Their crash risk is 2 to 3.5 times higher than a “model driver.”

The safest drivers are those that are alert, attentive, and sober. Even though drivers using hands-free devices are much safer than drivers who use hand-held devices, they do not qualify as model drivers. While talking on the phone is a primarily cognitive behavior, it’s still a distraction and is associated with slightly decreased reaction times. However, VTTI’s study shows that talking on the phone has roughly the same detrimental effect on a driver as singing or talking to a passenger. One of the lead researchers for VTTI’s study, Tom Dingle, explained that “talking on hands-free devices does not have any detrimental effects.” The study also indicated that the use of hands-free devices was not associated with any severe crashes or property damage.

What Are the Consequences of Using Hand-Held Devices While Driving?

Many states have passed laws prohibiting drivers from using hand-held devices, such as phones. If a police officer catches a driver using a phone while driving, he or she can cite the driver, which can be extremely expensive. However, a driver may experience more severe consequences if they cause an accident while using a hand-held device.

An insurance company might be able to deny coverage to a driver injured in a crash if the driver causes the accident while using a hand-held device. Although car insurance typically covers damage to cars and passengers, insurance companies may deny coverage if a driver is partially or wholly at fault. While a driver should always file a claim, insurance companies are likely to withhold payment for any accident where the driver was using a hand-held device in a hands-free state.

If an accident is fatal, the driver’s family may run into problems filing a life insurance claim. For Accident Death and Dismemberment policies (AD&D), insurance companies may deny coverage if the insured was committing a crime at the time of death. Drivers using hand-held devices in a hands-free state are committing a crime. Their actions may void their AD&D coverage.

Further, if others are injured or killed in an accident caused by a driver using a hand-held device, the driver’s insurance company may refuse to cover the claims. If that is the case, victims may choose to pursue damages against the driver. The driver will be personally liable and could lose all of his or her assets.

Using hands-free devices is a safer alternative to using hand-held devices. Further, using hands-free devices can help drivers avoid severe consequences.

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To the first-time reader who doesn’t know better, a term like “sandwich generation” brings up a pleasant image of being comfortably nestled between two warm slices of Americana. Guess again. Think vise grip, not bakery goods. That’s how much pressure is involved.

The term describes a state of being where an individual or couple is raising children and taking care of aging parents at the same time, while still trying to plan for retirement. It’s a tough situation. Doing it all successfully requires careful planning and financial discipline.

Let’s put ourselves into the sandwich for a few moments—you know what they say: Don’t judges someone until you’ve walked a mile in their sandwich. Or perhaps you’re already there. Maybe you’re on your way there and wondering if you need a personal loan to manage it. Either way, we’re going to cover some strategies that could make your life easier.

Make your retirement savings a priority

After you’re seated on an airplane and the doors have closed, a flight attendant stands up and does a short presentation about emergency exits and breathing masks that drop from the ceiling. They say, “Please put on your own mask before attempting to help someone else.”

It’s good advice in all areas of life. For those in the sandwich generation, make your retirement savings a priority. If you spend it all taking care of aging parents, your children will have to do the same for you. Do you really want to perpetuate that cycle? And do you trust them enough to put your golden years in their hands?

Even if your faithful brood does have the ways, means, and desire to care for you as you age, you’ll still be robbing them of generational wealth that could be accumulating interest or capital gains. Max out your retirement accounts. Everything else should come later.

Life insurance is a necessity

Don’t look at this as putting a price on your own head, even though it is. Life insurance is absolutely necessary when you have multiple individuals counting on you for financial support. What happens if you get hit by a truck or killed in the Zombie Apocalypse?

It’s not necessary to spend a lot on insurance. Term life is cheap, and you can set the benefit amount. Whole or universal life is more expensive, but it could be a good choice if you’re young and have small children. That cash value could come in handy later on.

As for other insurances, try to keep deductibles low so emergencies don’t empty your bank account. Take out life insurance policies on your parents, if that’s who you’re taking care of. Make sure you have disability insurance, just in case injuries prevent you from working.

Spend your parents’ money first

They’ll be eligible for Social Security at a certain age, but Medicare won’t kick in until they’re broke—so spend your parents’ money first. Get their assets down to zero as quickly as possible so the government can start paying its fair share.

Think of this as using existing wealth to help build new wealth. By slowly liquidating your parents’ assets to take care of them, you’re better able to properly care for and save money for your children. While you’re at it, spend a few dollars on yourself. You deserve it. #TREATYOSELF


While it is often confused with a life settlement, a viatical settlement actually has some notable differentiating factors regarding how it works and the circumstances of eligibility. A life settlement is when a policyholder sells their life insurance policy for a cash payout. This is typically done when the insured no longer needs the policy, can no longer keep up with the premiums, or if they would simply rather have a smaller payout sooner to cover their financial needs. Viatical settlements, on the other hand, are less common and pursued specifically by those with serious illnesses and short life expectancies. The policy holder sells their life insurance policy to a third-party buyer, usually at a significantly discounted rate, in exchange for an immediate payout. This is usually done because the seller needs financial assistance dealing with their illness.

Viatical settlement history

Viatical settlements have existed along with life settlements since the 1911 Supreme Court ruling in Grigsby v. Russell where it was decided that life insurance policies are personal property that may be lawfully sold to third parties. They didn’t become prominent, however, until the AIDS epidemic of the 80s where young people were suddenly facing the possibility of dying from the disease in just a few years. By selling their life insurance policies, many were able to afford medical treatments that could extend, and in some cases even save, their lives.

Seller qualifications

A seller needs to meet three basic criteria in order to qualify for a viatical settlement. First, they must have a terminal illness with a life expectancy in the timeframe of two to four years. Second, the policy needs to have been in effect for at least two years. Finally, the policy must come to a value of $100,000 or more.

All life insurance policies are acceptable, whether they’re term or permanent policies. There are still a variety of factors, however, that can affect the payout of a viatical settlement. Such factors may include the seller’s illness and its stage, individual policies of companies and brokers involved, the death benefit of the policy, and any other factors deemed relevant.

 Why pursue a viatical settlement?

One of the most common reasons to pursue a viatical settlement is because the seller simply can’t afford their insurance premiums any longer. The settlement frees them from this financial burden and also provides a payout for the seller to pursue medical care or other needs. This is a particularly good choice if the seller no longer has anyone relying on the death benefit of their policy.

A viatical settlement can also be a good choice when a term policy is nearly expired. Instead of letting it run out, it may be possible to convert to a whole policy and sell it. It’s also worth looking into selling a policy if it’s about to lapse. Most companies offer a grace period before the policy lapses from non-payment, and even a small payout is better than just wasting the policy. 

Advantages over other options

There are two main advantages to a viatical settlement over other options for those inclined. A viatical settlement will almost always provide a larger payout than other forms of financial assistance. Viatical settlements also have a specific advantage over life settlements in that they are tax free. They can often be the best option for a seller to improve their quality of life during the time they have left. If one decides to pursue this option, it’s often as easy as a brief application and a payout within days, if a buyer is found.


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Whether you made six figures or had a modest income during your working years, you will be concerned about your expenses during the retirement years. The fear of not having enough income to survive the last years of their lives is real for many retirees, but, with proper planning, there are some precautions you can take to make these the most relaxing years. The time to worry about having enough money to protect your family and loved ones is while you still have a regular income. Here are some things you can do to enjoy retirement.

Stay on Budget

Having a set budget and sticking to it will go a long way toward helping seniors stay on top of their expenses during retirement. Depending on your financial situation, you will want to cut as many unnecessary costs as possible. Starting with the home, you can reduce what you spend on utilities by installing a programmable air-conditioning control and using it to maintain a comfortable temperature while you’re away. You can also keep your appliances and furnace in top performance shape to avoid any surprises during the peak heating or cooling season. Deciding whether to have one or two cars, if you are married can also help you reduce the cost of payments, gas, and insurance. Adjusting grocery shopping habits, stopping bad habits such as drinking or smoking, and using discounts available to senior citizens can add up as well.

Choose How to Spend Your Money Wisely

Even though it’s important to save and watch expenses, you are also at a time when you want to enjoy the little things, such as visiting children and grandchildren or taking a last-minute vacation. Saving in some areas can free up money you will need for these small pleasures. Instead of eating out, learn how to cook at home and save money on expensive meals and tips. When going on a trip, keep all receipts to see how much you are spending and try to travel during the off-peak season. Small things add up.

Reduce Life Insurance Benefits

In the late years of your life you really don’t need as much life insurance as when you were younger.  When you are younger and have a family with young kids it’s important to have enough insurance coverage to help get your family through to adulthood. But in your later years when your kids are grown they more than likely have careers of their own. Some seniors have opted for cancelling their life insurance policies and going with a more affordable option like final expense life insurance. This type of insurance covers the basic of burial and will save you a considerable amount of money.

Eliminate Debt

Eliminating debt will reduce your monthly expenses and save you a lot of money in interest charges. If you have debt at any age, the best thing you can do is take care of it as soon as possible. Remember that you will not have additional income when you are retired and unless you are overflowing with cash, you will need to save as much as possible. If you have a mortgage, adding even a small amount to that monthly charge will reduce the number of years in which you will pay it off.

Anyone can cut back on unnecessary expenses if they put their mind to it. It may not be easy, but if you start early in life, you will be able to enjoy your retirement comfortably when that time comes and still enjoy the things that matter most to you. When you examine your monthly payments closely, you will find many areas where you can save money without sacrificing your quality of life. Consider taking money from savings to settle the debt or a mortgage if you have one. Making a budget and analyzing how you spend your money can give you great insights into what you will need for retirement and how you can cut costs without jeopardizing the basics.


Today, we’re going to talk about a crucial part of your personal finances; insurance. More specifically, we’re looking at four types of insurance you need to have:


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Car Insurance

This is perhaps the most well-known and talked about insurance. If you ask someone to name an insurance type, the majority will say car insurance. But, what is it and why do you need it? Basically, it insures your car against different kinds of damage. This means that if you get into an accident, your insurance provider will pay for any repairs that are needed. Obviously, this can save you a lot of money, and I mean a lot. If your car is severely damaged, you can get it fixed through your provider and save tonnes of money. Without insurance, you might have had to fork out lots of money on a new car. Plus, it’s illegal to drive a motor vehicle without it being insured. So, you have to make sure you’ve got it for your car. There are tonnes of providers out there that will give you quotes depending on a few factors. Age, gender, driving experience, and the car you drive can all have a bearing.

Home Insurance

Another type of insurance that you must have is all to do with your home. Yes, home insurance is essential for anyone that owns property. With it, you’ll get the option to protect two aspects of your house. You can get accidental damage cover and contents cover. The first of which will protect you if your home gets damaged for whatever reason. Maybe a storm damaged your roof, or someone broke your window. Either way, if your home insurance covers this, you’ll have the repairs paid for. Contents cover will protect you if your house ever gets burgled. If someone steals items from your house, you’ll be covered. Similarly, home insurances will protect your possessions if they get damaged in floods, etc. Some companies will give you replacement items free of charge. If you own a property, then you can’t forget about home insurance, trust me.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is something that no one likes to think about, but it’s very important. You see, we get life insurance to cover our family in case we die. As you can tell, this is a very sensitive topic, which is why people don’t like thinking about it. No one wants to talk about death, but sometimes you have to. With life insurance, your family will get money paid to them, if you pass away. This means they’re going to be financially stable when you’re gone. You may be the primary money maker in your house, so if you’re not there to earn money, they could be in trouble. Thankfully, life insurance ensures that your family finances are not ruined by your death. Types of life insurance can vary, some come with critical illness cover, others have certain requirements. Although you don’t like to think about it, death is inevitable. It makes sense to give your family some financial gain when you pass away.

Health insurance

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Health Insurance

One of the most important things in life is your health. If you aren’t healthy, you need to get treatment and see a doctor. Doctors can help you get better and back to feeling your best. When you have health insurance, seeing medical professions is a lot easier. In fact, some institutions only accept people that have insurance. What health insurance does is protect your health and wellbeing. It can cover the cost of doctors appointments, operations, physical therapy, etc. Without it, it’s very hard to find reliable, high level, medical care. Sure, there are some public options for people without insurance. However, the waiting times for appointments are insane, let alone the wait for surgeries. Without health insurance, you could be waiting for surgery for up to two years! But, if you have it, you can get the surgery covered by your insurer and make sure you’re seen to as soon as possible. It’s highly recommended for everyone, particularly those with a family.

Insurance is a very important part of your financial life. It can protect you from so many things and ensure you aren’t paying loads of money for different stuff. Imagine if you had none of the insurance above. Think about how much money you’d have to pay to cover things like car breakdowns, medical bills, and so on. Getting insurance can give you a more stable life, and set your family up for a comfortable future.


It’s safe to assume everyone wants to have a comfortable and secure retirement someday. 

This dream is definitely one of the main motivations that we use to work hard and strive to stay healthy for as long as we can. As the global economic situation grows more challenging every day, people are working harder than ever just to get by.


Retirement ages are getting pushed back in some countries – in Australia, this is currently a hot topic of debate, with reports it may rise to 67 – and as a result, workers are left with less time to enjoy their retirement. This is why it is extremely important to be prepared for anything that could happen – especially if you have a family that depends on your hard-earned income. In the event of an untimely death before retirement, the family does not need to suffer from any financial burden if there is an ample life insurance policy protecting them from that. If you don’t have a policy in place, Compare the Market as soon as possible.

Retirement and Insurance Go Hand in Hand

With the plethora of life insurance companies out there, it is prudent to make an Australian life insurance comparison among their terms in order to determine the one that suits your needs the most. The unexpected nature of life in general should make insurance policies a vital aspect of your overall financial plan. We can only do so much to prevent ourselves from falling prey to illness or untoward events, but the reality is that there is no guarantee that we will be able to elude them completely, and successfully. A substantial life insurance benefit payment reduces the chances that your family’s standard of living is not altered dramatically because of a sudden death.

When you decide to get life insurance as a supplementary retirement investment, there are numerous factors to consider. For starters, you have to choose between permanent and term policies – this decision will largely depend on your actual income and financial obligations. Life insurance companies offer policies that contain similar features, but with the help of insurance comparison services, you will be able to identify their subtle differences and choose the most appropriate one for you.

Reputation Is Key

You don’t want to risk your family’s welfare with a life insurance company that has a less-than-stellar reputation. The bigger and more reputable a company is, the higher the chances that it has sufficient funds available to provide your family’s needs. Business owners and high-income professionals are encouraged to purchase permanent life insurance as a means of increasing the size of their retirement package.

On the other hand, workers who receive average-sized incomes prefer to buy term life insurance, as it is the more affordable option. But since a permanent life insurance policy entails equity and builds over time, even regular professionals are being enticed to go for permanent insurance. There is a hybrid type insurance policy product being marketed today to people who have difficulty deciding between permanent and term insurance policies. Named Variable Universal Life Insurance, it enables the policy holder to select from a variety of separate accounts. Whether this is a policy worth buying, has been discussed by experts.

Life insurance can certainly ensure the financial stability of your family in the event of your timely demise. However, if you purchase it for retirement or other purposes, be prudent enough to inspect the policy to make sure that it indeed fills that role.

James Gandolfini’s estate is reportedly about to be gutted by the federal government.

James Gandolfini will calls for 80% of his estate to go to his sisters and his 9-month-old daughter Liliana, according to reports, which subjects them to death taxes – which are levied at a rate of about 55%.

The remaining 20% goes to his widow.

As written, the will subjects everyone involved to significantly more taxation than is normally the case.

“It’s a nightmare from a tax standpoint,” estate lawyer William Zabel told the New York Daily News, calling the segregation of assets a “big mistake” saying the will is “a disaster”.

The enormous tax bill – about $30 million – will be due in about nine months, according to William Zabel.

James Gandolfini, like most high net worth people, probably didn’t keep his assets in cash, which will force his family to sell off his multiple properties and liquidate other holdings to cover the bill, explained William Zabel, but they will have a little wiggle room.

James Gandolfini’s estate is about to be gutted by the federal government due to his disastrous will

James Gandolfini’s estate is about to be gutted by the federal government due to his disastrous will

“They can get an extension of time to pay the entire amount, but they’re going to have pay a substantial amount in nine months,” said William Zabel.

Though the exact amount of James Gandolfini’s estate is not known since an inventory does not have to be filed until December, estimating it to be worth $70 million leaves heirs to divvy up $40 million after taxes instead of $70 million before taxes, since the will calls for shares to be divided after settling the tax bill, according to the Daily News.

This leaves Deborah Lin, James Gandolfini’s widow, with a significantly smaller share of the pie, according to William Zabel.

“It’s a catastrophe,” the lawyer said.

Untouched by the taxation issues will be a $7 million life insurance payout to Michael Gandolfini, the actor’s 13-year-old son. Separate trust funds had also been set up for James Gandolfini’s wife and son prior to his passing, according to the Daily News.

James Gandolfini died last month in Rome after a massive heart attack. He was in Italy attending a film festival with his family.

Any royalties from his lengthy acting career in film and television going into the estate would also be subject to death taxes. It’s not yet clear whether they are set up to go into trusts or the estate, the Daily News reported.

Should the sisters and daughter renounce their shares in the estate, they would avoid taxes and be able to receive larger payments down the road, since they would default to Deborah Lin as spouses are not subject to the same rates of inheritance taxes as others.