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Helpful Steps My Late Father-in-Law Took

Special note: This commentary originally ran in March 2017. I received more feedback about it than any other Investor Update column I’ve written over the past eight years. Since many of you found it helpful and I’m out of the office this week, I decided to republish it.

My father-in-law passed last week. Les was a person who was willing to take risks when the potential payoff seemed to warrant doing so. This led him to stop his graduate school studies at the University of Chicago and join what was then a brand-new government agency: NASA. His attitude toward risk carried over to investing where, like many investors, he realized profits and occasionally incurred some bad luck, such as the Enron bonds he owned. Though many of the conversations Les and I had involved nonfinancial topics, it was not unusual for him to discuss investing with me. Les even once gave me his copy of Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor” to read, not realizing I already owned a copy of it.chart

The best financial steps Les made didn’t involve security selection or portfolio allocation, but rather the management of his finances. The process of assisting my mother-in-law with her finances was greatly helped by what my father-in-law did before he passed. I’ll share some of the actions Les took with you in the hope that you’ll consider following in his footsteps.

Conversations: I cannot begin to stress how helpful I am now finding the conversations that Les and I had to be. My wife and I know about all of the accounts my in-laws have, bank or brokerage. We also know about the sources of retirement income and the life insurance policy. There are also no disagreements about how to manage the money, since it was previously discussed. The simple act of conversing has allowed me to quickly start on the transition, including making calls on my mother-in-law’s behalf.

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Two Federal Reserve officials will make public appearances: Atlanta president Raphael Bostic on Monday and Thursday and Chicago president Charles Evans on Friday.

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