DEAR BRUCE: My son and I are in the process of selling a rental townhouse. I assume that we will be paying taxes on the gain. I heard there are ways we can avoid such taxes. I have called several institutions, that have no knowledge of how it can be done. -- Reader, via e-mail
DEAR READER: I don't know of any direct method to avoid the taxes. You can, of course, reinvest the money under the like kind and exchange rule, and thereby postpone paying the taxes. The operative term here is "postpone." When that property is sold, the taxman will get his due. Given the information that you have provided, I know of no other way for you to avoid the taxes. Be glad that you made a profit; it could have been a loss.
DEAR BRUCE: Everywhere I turn they are advertising will kits. I can't afford an attorney to write up my will. Will I be secure in getting a will kit and doing it myself? -- P.K. Kentucky
DEAR P.K.: I guess I need to say it one more time: Spend the money to hire an attorney. If your estate is simple, it won't cost that much. It's very possible if you use one of these kits that your will would be valid. However, it's also possible that it won't, and the only way to find out it is not valid is after your death, and it's too late to make the correction then. You work hard for what you have and you would like the people of your choice to get the things that you have allocated to them in your will.
DEAR BRUCE: I have a very close friend who has been very kind to me. In fact, she's been a better friend to me than my family members. I would like to leave her something in my will, but my husband says that only relatives can be named as beneficiaries. Is this true? -- Sharon, via e-mail
DEAR SHARON: This couldn't be further from the truth. In some states, the minimum amount that you are obliged to leave to anyone is your spouse, and that's a third of your estate. With the remainder, you can do with and leave to whomever you want. There is no prohibition from remembering someone's kindnesses in your will. Just make sure you have a competent attorney draw up your will so that all the "I"'s are dotted and "T"'s crossed, this way your wishes will be carried out.