Should you sell old gold as prices hit record highs?

As U.S. and global markets take a dive into negative territory, it may seem like a great opportunity to sell that old gold necklace you have been holding on to. Before you take the leap to gain some extra dollars, here are a few things to consider:

Stay away from online “cash for gold” websites. They usually do not pay the full value of your items and they can use fine print to pay you even less than what they originally promised

Be wary of “cash for gold” television advertisements and offers sent through mail and email. These buyers often target retirees with the allure of a quick high price. You normally end up with much less then what your gold was actually worth and it can sometimes take longer than expected.
Realize that selling your gold is forever. Companies melt gold down, making it difficult if not impossible for items to be returned if you change your mind.

If you want to sell your gold, find a local company with a good reputation. Check out and screen potential companies on the Better Business Bureau website at You can also look for and compare local dealers in the Yellow Pages. Get more than one local appraisal to guarantee you get a fair price for your valuables.
Gold is trading at an all time high; even so, it might not be the best time to invest your money in this area. Gold tends to be a volatile commodity and may be a better short-term trading vehicle then a long-term investment.

The guidelines and scams for selling gold can also be applied to hard assets including diamonds, silver and coins. When selling your precious items, be careful: contemplate your decision thoroughly, do proper research and make sure that the benefit outweighs the risk.

Alexandria Criss is a Client Relations Manager with Financial Insights, Inc. in Tacoma.

Many people wonder how to plan for their estate if they have concerns about the ability of a beneficiary to handle a bequest.  They want to know what options they have and how a charity might be involved in the solution, if at all.

Usually the best option for a beneficiary who might not be capable of handling a lump sum gift is to create a trust for the beneficiary.  In a trust, you can name a trustee to handle the financial management and make distributions to or for the benefit of the beneficiary.  Trusts can be very flexible, so you can structure the distribution provisions to fit the needs of your beneficiary.

The trustee can be a family member, a friend or a professional.  Often, however, family members are not the best choice because distribution decisions may place stress on family relationships.  Under the best of circumstances it can be awkward to manage funds for another family member.  If you are dealing with a beneficiary who is financially irresponsible, the situation can be much worse because the beneficiary may put pressure on the trustee to increase distributions.  For similar reasons it may be difficult for a friend to serve as trustee.  Banks and trust companies are a good option because they are experienced in working with difficult, inexperienced or irresponsible beneficiaries.

If you like the idea of providing a beneficiary with a regular income stream for the beneficiary’s lifetime and you would also like to support a charitable organization, then there are two options that allow you to meet both of these goals.  These options are charitable remainder trusts and charitable gift annuities.  Both of these options provide a stream of income to an individual beneficiary.  Upon the death of the beneficiary, the funds remaining in the trust or annuity belong to the charity.

Many charitable organizations offer charitable gift annuities administered by the charitable organization.  These are simple to set up and can be funded with relatively small dollar amounts.  Although it is a good idea to consult your attorney, accountant or other financial advisor, you do not need the services of an attorney to create a charitable gift annuity.  Charitable remainder trusts do require an attorney to draft the trust document.  A charitable organization can often serve as the trustee if the organization is designated to receive all or a significant portion of the remainder following the death of the beneficiary.

Trusts offer an effective solution if you have concerns regarding a beneficiary’s ability to handle a gift or inheritance.  If you want to combine planning for your beneficiary with a charitable gift, then a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust might be the best option for you.


Amy Lewis is an attorney with Eisenhower, Carlson, PLLC, in Tacoma. She specializes in charitable gift planning, estate and tax planning.  Please consult a qualified attorney or estate planner before making a gift in your estate.

Doug Page
Pacific Lutheran University

Do you place a high value on education?  Have you ever considered how you might leave a legacy at your favorite college, university or high school foundation and at the same time provide access to a post secondary education to students regardless of their economic circumstances?

If you are like most of the people with whom I work, you would answer yes to these questions.  And your following question would likely be, “but how?”  With just a little planning and some good advice, you might be surprised that it is often not difficult nor does it always require a significant current contribution of assets.

It is true that the most common way to provide access to higher education and to fund it over with current gifts over a period of a few years.  But not everybody can make such a commitment of current resources.  Many people are surprised to learn that smaller annual contributions backed up with a gift through their estate plans can provide important scholarship support to students while honoring the life and the legacy of the donor.

For example, the Erickson’s recently inquired about creating a scholarship in memory and in honor of Mr. Erickson’s father, who had recently died.  However, $5,000 a year for five years was a bit more that they could afford.  I suggested that they contribute $1,500 a year and include the named scholarship as a recipient of their estate for a minimum of $25,000.  They agreed and the result is that each year the $1,500 is awarded to a student who meets the established criteria and at their death the Erickson Endowment will be funded through a generous bequest!  They are thrilled when they hear from “their scholar” each year and meet her or him at the annual scholarship reception.  They are so thrilled with this arrangement that they are even considering creating a second scholarship in honor of her mother–but to do so while she is living so she will also enjoy knowing that students are able to pursue their dreams as a result of their philanthropy.

Doug Page is Senior Development Director in Gift Planning at Pacific Lutheran University.  Please consultant a qualified estate planner before making a gift in your will.