Mom fears daughter has ruined her credit

Question: I am a savvy woman who has been taken advantage of by my adult daughter. She used my name and Social Security number to apply for a credit card. She ran the card up by a substantial amount, but, of course, didn't have the money to pay it off.

When I found out — after the shock wore off — I was livid. But now I have this debt in my name and Social Security number.

After contacting an attorney, I have told my daughter that I won't pay these charges. The credit card is now in collection, and they won't take partial payments. Is my credit ruined because of this? — Very Upset, via e-mail

Answer: I do sympathize with you for having a deadbeat daughter who has chosen to treat her mother so shabbily. About the only thing you can do — and this will be hard — is to tell the credit-card company that you want to file an identity-theft claim against your daughter. Essentially, your credit has been stolen. That should be the first step to ensure that your credit remains in good standing. Unfortunately, there could be some action taken against her and, as a parent, that's going to be difficult. However, she needs to learn the consequences of her actions.

Q: My mother passed away and left my sister and me as co-executors of her estate. We are the only heirs. The problem is that we don't live in the same state.

My sister wants me to sign papers to relinquish my status so it will be easier for her to clear up the estate, instead of everything coming to me for a co-signature.

My mother entrusted both of us to handle her affairs, and I hate the thought of relinquishing the status, but I don't know whether I have another choice. What should I do? — Reader, via e-mail

A: Do you trust your sister? Do you think she's capable of carrying out the job as executrix?

Although your mother wanted both of you to handle her affairs, it can unfortunately become a drag.

If, on the other hand, you're not sure that your sister is capable of taking care of these matters, you're going to have to insist that everything be sent to you for your signature.

In today's world, with overnight delivery, the time delay would be minimal.

Q: My wife and I are interested in opening a Roth IRA, but we don't know where to start.

Should we go to our bank, or do we have to use a financial broker? Does it make a difference where we open it? — M.B., via e-mail

A: Starting an IRA is as simple as walking down the street. Personally, I would open it at a brokerage house, although you can start one at any financial institution, such as a bank or credit union.

The problem with those options is lower returns than one might usually find at a brokerage house. It's a great way to save money for your retirement, and a few years down the road, you'll be glad you did.