Inheritance and financial advisors questions

djsawMarch 21, 2012

My financial advisor moved to a different firm this week and I am now looking for another one. In 2008 I recieved a large amount of stock as an inheritance from my grandparents. By the grace of God, I sold it 1 week before the market crashed. So when I bought more stock in November I got a really good price. I used my father's financial advisor and he gave me a list of stocks to look over and I researched them and told him what I wanted to buy and I felt like I made some really good picks.

For the most part I have been really happy with my stocks and in the 3 years I have had it I have increased my portfolio by 20%. I have complete control over this account and it is not a managed account. I have bought and sold a few stocks but for the most part things have stayed the same.

Now onto my questions. I met with my brother's financial advisor yesterday and he said that my portfolio is very aggressive and he would like to see me have a more conservative portfolio. I have about 75% of my money in stocks and the other 25% is in bonds. Which is what I have heard is good for my age, 30. But my portfolio is 7 figures and I was wondering if because it is so large it needs to be more conservative.

My previous financial advisor didn't have a problem with it. He said that it had unbelievable growth and he was really happy with it. He bought what I said to buy and sold what I said to sell. He also didn't try to push me into a managed account like this new guy is. I would follow my old advisor but he moved to a smaller firm and I want to stay with the larger firm.

Thanks for your help.

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What benefits does the larger firm provide that the smaller one doesn't. If it's not much I would go with your old advisor. It's the person that makes the difference in my opinion. I would say do some research and then make your choice.

I'm no financer but I think only you can decide if you need to deversify more. You do have lots of time to recover anything you may lose in the stock market. Of that 75% how much is risky stock and how much is blue chip? If you have a good mix then I say stay with your plan. Could that be the reason Your brother's advisor wants to change things. Advisors are people and some are more conservative than others

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Thank you for replying so fast. Out of 22 stocks I think that only 2 maybe 3 are risky and the rest are blue chip. In my riskiest stock, a REIT, I have quite a bit of money. The new guy couldn't believe I had put so much money in there. It's a big risk and I never gamble with more than I am willing to lose and I have a thing(can't remember the name) on it to sell if it falls below a certain number. I would like to follow my old advisor but he moved to a local bank that trades through a small firm. The bigger firm has more resources. I do have some more appointments with other advisors next week so I will see what they have to say. I'm just afraid they will say the same thing.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 5:52PM
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The REIT sounds risky, so you may be gambling more than you are prepared to lose. There are other people on these forums who are more knowledgeable than me, so be patient, and they might answer. We were lucky to get a great financial advisor, one of the top 100 in the country.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:30PM
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I suspect the advisor's aversion is to having too much money in one place. Regardless of performance. One widely followed and good strategy is to have no more than 4 or 5% in any one investment (aside from your ready-cash, and that should be in an FDIC insured account.) And consider re-balancing your earnings. Should an investment grow from 5% to 10% of your holdings, that's probably a good time to take out 1/2 of it and redistribute the funds.

So it may be the personality of the advisor that is rubbing you the wrong way, but I'll venture to guess that most advisors will make similar suggestions, unless your funds are in index funds or other vehicles that cover a wide sector of the market.

How about asking the advisors for some good reading materials on investing? You'll be a far better investor is you know the name of the "thing" and a few other concepts.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:21AM
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First, congrats on your windfall.

Personally, I'd say your asset mix is fine. eg 75% stocks for a 30 year old isn't unreasonable. What is probably going to be a red flag to most advisers is having a big percentage in just a handful of stocks. You are taking on a good deal of risk for no reason. Unless you are in a position to have an insight into a particular company or industry, you can get similar returns will much less risk with broad based mutual funds or eft's.

The big question is "What's your overall plan?" Are you just parking this money for the next 30 years and trying to become super wealthy for retirement? Do you want to have your own business? Do you have a cause you want to help? Deciding on some overall goals will go a long way toward determining what type of investment strategy you should have and who is best suited to help you carry it out.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Thank you for commenting colorcrazy but like I said I am willing to lose it all or I wouldn't have put it in there.

Thank you for commenting sushipup. That is exactly what I am trying to do. I am trying to take my profits and redistribute. The problem I am having is that I feel that I have some really good companies and I am having trouble finding more. I was hoping that this new investor could help me with it but he kept trying to steer me to a managed account to let them do it. As far as education, I would LOVE to go back to school for this but that is not possible for the near future. I am a single mother of 2 and I am doing my best to take care of my very sick father who's starting to get dementia and his doctor's appointments are 2 hours away. My spare time is spent cleaning out his house and trying to get a room ready in my house so that my father could move in with me to make things a little bit easier. My brother is no help but I will spare you the details of that situation.

Yes this new financial advisor's personality did rub me the wrong way. He name dropped like crazy, bragged about how rich his brother was, bragged about how his own house/cars/boats were completely paid off, told stories of his family, and told me to let someone else have a piece of the pie. Here's an example of our conversation. Me: I have 153% gain in X and I want to sell it so that I don't lose the profit. The trouble I am having is X is a very good company and I don't know what to put it in. Him: Well in this managed plan.... Me: I already told you that I don't want the managed plan. Him: Did I ever tell you the story my brother... This type of conversation went on for 45 min till I got up and walked out and the only reason I gave him 45 min was because I love my brother despite his current actions. The last straw was the "let someone else have a piece of the pie" comment. I will gladly give the sick, hungry, and homeless a "piece of the pie" but he doesn't need my pie. His house, cars, and boats are all paid off.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:56AM
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You don't necessarily need to go back to school for this. A few good books should help you a lot. Start with the Bob Brinker website and his recommended reading list.

And you do not need more stocks to buy. Sure, it's nice to find something new, but I suspect that following more than 20 different stocks, unless you're a pro, is pretty tough. So take the profits from X and add that to investments that you already own.

The advisor sounds like a jerk and you were above and beyond polite with him. ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Bob Brinker

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Billl thank you for commenting. Currently I am living off the dividends of these stocks because having a job and dealing with what is going on in my life right now would make me bald. Whatever didn't fall out from the stress I would probably pull out. As for the future I would like to go back to school for finance, then get a job and reinvest the dividends. I have no desire to become super wealthy, I didn't come from a wealthy family and I was not brought up that way. My grandparent's didn't have much money either growing up. When my grandparent's got married in 1947 they had $5 in the bank and added a little bit each week. I know this because my grandmother saved every deposit slip of every deposit they ever made and I was in charge of shredding them. My goals for the money would be to increase it enough so that when I die 2/3 goes to my children and 1/3 goes to charity.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Ok , so if your goal is to live off of dividends for at least the short term, you shouldn't be stock picking at all. Follow low risk strategies and be "safe" until your life settles down a bit. If your goal is financial stability and not "getting rich", then you are already there! No need to risk that when the only reward is giving 10% more to your kids when you pass. Your sanity is worth a lot more than that!

As a general rule, if you are going through any major life changes or major stress situations, you shouldn't make major, long-term financial decisions. Nobody makes their best decisions in those type of high-stress environments. That is just part of being human. The best strategy in those times is to just hit "pause". Keep what you have safe and just weather the storm. Once the storm passes, you'll be in great shape to chart your new path.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:28AM
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IMHO, you are more likely to get better service from a small firm than a large one. With an investible account the size of yours, you are probably (or should be) paying some of the lower management fees (every advisor/firm sets their own fees, but usually a 7-figure account warrants between .75 to 1% on portfolio fees) and you should be allowed to buy your stocks at NAV (net asset value: the lowest cost to purchase a stock).

If nothing else, this new wanna-be advisor disqualifies him/herself right off the bat, by insisting you should have a discretionary, aka managed, account. You should NEVER, EVER, allow any advisor to have full control over your money! I have (what I guess one would call) a casual business relationship with two separate, ethical, independent Certified Financial Planners and neither of them would dream of asking their clients to set up anything but non-discretionary investing accounts. Both have over 20 yrs in the financial industry and have never set up a discretionary account.

I'll qualify that: the only exception has been one of the CFPs, who just last year set up such a managed account for his family's trust, because his father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, so he's had to take over his parents' finances.

As for portfolio risk, your two postings indicate that more seriously, your long-time advisor has not discussed with you your changing financial situation. First you say this is merely investible money, but then you say you're living off the income. In such case, the money is no longer strictly 'hold and grow' for some long-off future retirement. You are taking distributions as if you were retired. Temporarily, perhaps, but the result is identical as long as the situation lasts.

At the very least, had you discussed your situation in advance with an advisor, s/he could have worked with your tax person to arrange for the lowest possible tax hit on your distributions. Doing so now will be of much less benefit, if any benefit at all.

It's wonderful that you have accumulated a large portfolio at such a young age. But you need to realize this makes it all the more important that you regularly discuss with a good advisor - old, new, whoever - your short/medium/long-term goals.

Your savings give you options, but your work in managing finances becomes increasingly more complex, the more money you have. Many people would love to have your problem, so this is not a bad thing! But having money means you need to be thoughtful about it. Having regular discussions with a good professional will bring up issues you have not even thought about yet.

As I keep trying to point out in my posts, financial planning is NOT investing. There is more to financial management than your ROI. This is where a good advisor can help you, while a bad advisor is of no help at all because they only care about their own income, not guaranteeing yours.

The new advisor did have one good point. He is trying to alert you to the idea of lowering your risk profile, and that is not a bad lesson for you to absorb (proving there is always some good even in bad things). You say you 'like' your old advisor better, but it doesn't seem as if you really learned much from him/her.

A good working relationship with a certified advisor - and if you don't know the difference between a fiduciary advisor and a suitability advisor, you need to learn that IMMEDIATELY - is a give-and-take relationship that needs some time invested in it. The advisor needs to learn what your goals are and be continually "kept in the loop" on your life changes.

In return, s/he has the responsibility of helping you achieve those goals at the lowest possible risk to you.

You need an experienced, ethical, independent fiduciary advisor. "Liking" someone is not good enough. They have to have not just the right personality, but the right skillset, the ethics, and the experience. A good advisor is not one who agrees with you all the time. A good advisor is one who warns you when they think something is wrong, and is willing to spend the time to explain why - even though, in the end, it remains your decision to make.

There is a reason why the upper middle class (and by that I mean moderate wealthy: people with $1-10 million net worth) tend to do better than most middle class workers. They have the ability to pay for good advice - yes, finding it is just as hard for them as it is for you - but they are more likely to be able to find it, and more likely to take that advice.

The semi-retired CFP I worked for was a great guy with only about 125 clients, and I can honestly say that every single one of them was better off having him look after their interests.

You have had a nice run with your investing. This is a great time for you to learn there is far more involved with financial planning than you thought, because you now have a reasonable base on which to start on the road to skillful money management. You need a financial plan, because you are looking at needing enough money to get you through 60-70 years of increasingly costly life. Never mind what you might leave to your children; at this point you don't have enough to make it to 65 if you suffered a serious accident or illness.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 12:40PM
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It's called a stop loss, by the way. Having a trailing stop loss around 5% under the current stock price is a good way to keep from losing your capital. As a stock rises, adjust your stop loss up accordingly.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 7:53PM
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LOL thank you annkathryn.

Thank you kom51 you've given me lots to think about. I realize that many people would love to have this "problem", but I'm sure they wouldn't want my other problems. LOL I am very grateful everyday for this blessing and that is why it is so important for me to give back.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Would "Ernst & Young's Personal Financial Planning Guide" be a good book to read? It has some good reviews on Amazon.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:37PM
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Don't know that book, but Bob Brinker's recommended reading list has a number of books that suit a beginner.

Here is a link that might be useful: reading list

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 12:18PM
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djsaw - you're very welcome, and I hope everyone's postings help you.

I should explain something about what a financial plan is, and more important, what it is not.

It IS:
-- A roadmap that changes as your life changes. It starts with a full analysis of where you are right now: not just in investing, but every aspect of your financial life - good and bad.
-- It requires you to think about what your short-, medium-, and long-term goals are. If you don't know where you are and decide where you want to be, you can't devise a comprehensive strategy for getting there.
-- An acknowledgment of what are the biggest risks to you, which might keep you from success.
-- A flexible strategy for getting from Point A to future points B, C, D, etc. Remember, you want to increase your chances for success, while lowering your overall risks for failure.

It is NOT:
-- Permanent; e.g., written in stone. Your goals will change as your life changes. But a good plan will only need a little tweaking, instead of a major adjustment. That's because a good plan is flexible.
-- A guarantee that you can eliminate all risk from your life. That's impossible! But you can lower some of the most dangerous/specific risks you face.
-- Cheap (meaning: under $500) or free. Most plans are created by software programs. Any good software will test the data using at least 1,500 scenarios, up to 10,000 different scenarios, called Monte Carlo analysis. Cheap software only tests your data with a few hundred scenarios The best are done by extensive analysis by an actual financial planner, but those are very expensive, from $3K-$12K for a comprehensive plan, and you have to find someone who specializes in it (and they're few and far between).
-- Any financial plan that doesn't examine your insurance, your health, your family's health, and your future employment prospects, is incomplete. These factors can be analyzed by you, or in combination with an experienced CFP if you're not sure how to properly evaluate such risks.

"Life changing events" is a specific term used in financial planning, BTW. They are defined as: birth, death, marriage, and divorce. Any of these events happening requires that you check to see if your financial plan needs adjusting.

These days, I would include a change in employment status, as well. Long periods of unemployment are a threat to many people, most especially as one ages. I hate to count how many Boomers I know who are struggling in the job market despite good credentials and technical expertise, simply because they're over 50 or 55 and employers would rather hire someone younger/cheaper.

As you go through life it is guaranteed that you WILL hit rough spots - yes, maybe even rougher than what you face now. Either you will make a few wrong decisions, or bad luck will simply happen to you or your loved ones. That is why your plan must be "stress tested". You need a strategy that will work in bad times as well as good ones.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 4:30PM
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>>An advisor's first priority is to make commission money for himself (probably why his boat, etc. is paid for) and nobody cares about your money as much as you do.>>

An UNCERTIFIED advisor, certainly that's true. But a certified financial planner has true fiduciary duty towards his/her clients. If you put some effort into finding one - and there are bad CFPs, just as there are bad lawyers - a good one can truly be of assistance.

There are something like 12,000 different financial industry titles, most of which are absolutely worthless. Stick with the certifications that really mean something.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:01PM
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"But a certified financial planner has true fiduciary duty towards his/her clients."

Just because someone calls themself a certified financial planner doesn't mean they won't lie to you or rip you off. Jkom51 was lucky. She worked for the guy and had a better idea of what to expect than your average person.

The one we used worked for a trust company as well as a brokerage. He was horrible. Even though we told him we wanted to be in low risk investments, he put us in junk bonds and sold our Vanguard index 500. He could have cared less what we thought so long as he could keep churning our account and keeping us in the dark.

It was a bitter lesson we learned well.

The only one you can honestly trust with your money is yourself.

Djsaw, I congratulate you on doing so well in spite of not having the background to know what advisors can/should do.

Only things I'd suggest would be to read the book "Brokerage Fraud-What Wall Street Doesn't Want You to Know", and put some of your money in more than one place so a single company, etc can lose it all in the event you run into someone like Madoff.

Links that may be useful:

E.F. Moody-Tips on hiring a financial advisor

Brokerage Fraud
"Tracy Pride Stoneman, an abritration lawyer, and Douglas J. Schulz, a former broker, have written the book that every investor should read. Despite being the most regulated industry in the country, the securities business consistently bends and breaks the rules. The authors reveal what those ""buy,"" ""sell,"" and ""hold"" recommendations really mean, the widespread conflicts of interest, and the most common abuses among brokerage firms."

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:30PM
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Here's the difference between dreamgarden's experience and mine:

My MIL (who uses the CFP we selected) has three accounts: personal IRA, Survivor Trust, and Decedent Trust. The Decedent is in a conservative portfolio and the other two are in a moderate-risk portfolio.

We filled out a very extensive risk profile on MIL and were asked to approve the specific portfolio allocations for each account. We were told what those funds were and what the objectives/risks were.

ALL funds have to be approved by us. If we wanted to customize her portfolio to substitute specific funds or add a sector not normally allotted to her risk profile, we can do so at any time (although we haven't).

We always know precisely what funds the accounts are invested in and what percentage of the overall portfolio it totals.

At NO TIME are there any "surprises" about what her accounts are invested in. They are non-discretionary managed accounts: the advisor CANNOT move funds without our permission.

Anytime there is a change of funds, such as when the advisor switched from using Associated Securities to Schwab for lower costs and a wider choice of funds, we were fully advised, both verbally and in writing, of what the new funds were. We always receive every prospectus, mailed directly to us (they can also be received electronically).

Conversely, if we wanted to do something super-risky with her funds, the advisor has the right -- and I have known them to exercise it -- to refuse to execute such a commission as it would risk breaching their fiduciary duty.

It was not common, but there were at least three clients for the CFP I used to work with (different than the one we use for MIL, BTW) who only held part of their money at the CFP firm. Some of their investible assets were held in riskier investments with another firm.

I noticed that those clients did not have any intention of withdrawing from using the CFP. All expressed satisfaction with his results. They just wanted to play some riskier bets, and respected his position.

In his own investments, in fact, the CFP did do some riskier investing. But as he explained to me, "This is MY money. I don't, and can't, do this with client funds."

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Highly recommend "The Bogleheads Guide to Investing" which contains a section on windfalls which would be applicable to you as well as some basic portfolio theory and investing advice.

As noted by other posters, whether or not you have done well in the past, you are taking on uncompensated risk by owning individual stocks - over time it is likely you will do better with less risk by owning low cost mutual funds. This is especially true if your broker / adviser is taking a cut each year.

My recommendation is that you:
1) Determine your goals (current income vs. long term
2) Determine an appropriate asset allocation (75/25 is reasonable if goal is long term growth, but aggressive if your goal is to fund short term needs)
3) Move the majority of your funds to low cost mutual funds (S&P 500, Total US Market, International, Total US Bond Market), set and forget
4) Focus your time on your family rather than trying to beat the market

Please be aware that many advisers are motivated to make investing seem complicated and do not have your best interests at heart. Costs matter!

Here is a link that might be useful: The Bogleheads Guide to Investing

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:35AM
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"Here's the difference between dreamgarden's experience and mine:
My MIL (who uses the CFP we selected) has three accounts: personal IRA, Survivor Trust, and Decedent Trust....."

The ONLY difference is that you could trust the person managing your account. It helps that you worked for him.

Did you have investing experience prior to your employment with this person Jkom?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 9:57AM
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>>The ONLY difference is that you could trust the person managing your account. It helps that you worked for him. >>

Sorry if you got confused about what I posted. The CFP I worked for was under consideration for managing MIL's accounts, but we DID NOT, in the end, choose him. It has nothing to do with his ethics and ROI results, which are top-notch.

Due to a combination of personality, culture (she is Asian-born) and dementia, DH and I felt the second CFP firm was a better 'fit' for her. The accounts were transferred in late 2007.

And yes, I have handled all our own personal investments for over 40 yrs. Our ROI is 5%/yr after fees, which for our accounts are extraordinarily low because the pension fund is the biggest in the US and wields considerable muscle with fund mgrs.

I enjoy handling investments. My DH does not. Our agreement is that if anything happens to me, he transfers the accounts out of the state fund mgrs and over to the CFP firm his mother uses. He doesn't mind the regular mtgs with the advisors, but he definitely has no interest in forecasting market changes and making adjustments to the portfolio, as I do.

Hope that clarifies matters.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:36PM
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"And yes, I have handled all our own personal investments for over 40 yrs. Our ROI is 5%/yr after fees, which for our accounts are extraordinarily low because the pension fund is the biggest in the US and wields considerable muscle with fund mgrs."

Thats what I figured. Thanks for clarifying that.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:31PM
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No one has talked about 'lifestyle and money'...

Jkom put it in a very technical way. I am putting a bit of a human story behind it.... but saying the same thing.

The fact that you are not working right now and living off the dividends is a big red flag for your future. You have kids and your living expenses will only grow not lessen. Unless there is enough money to meet all your future needs, ie college, mortgage, new car, travel etc, you need either a job that pays well enough or an investment strategy that will give you enough to live on without eroding the principle. There may or may not be enough money for that as is. (I have no idea from your post.) This is where you need to talk to someone that can really figure out what you want for yourself and your kids with the money that is there.

Most people with a young family need about $5mil to $10mil nest egg to have an upper middle class lifestyle without needing to work for life AND risking the principle. "Not risking the principle" is a very important concept because you do not have the earning power to bring it back up if you lost it. (If your wage was a $1/2 mil to $1mil a year then no big deal but you are not there...) People like Donald Trump and Ted Turner can pull themselves out of near bankruptcy but most of us cannot recoup the lost principle. I have seen multigenrationally wealthy families have this happen to them due to risky investments.

If I had your money, I would want to have certain things that money can buy; a house in a good school district, enrichment for my kids, good after school care for my kids if I was working, nice vacations etc. Notice I did not list designer handbags or fancy cars.

One of the joys of having money is that you can have some opportunities that enable you to enjoy life more fully and perhaps get your kids a small head start with good education and opportunities that may help them in life. We are all driven by Darwinian instinct to put our kids ahead of someone else's kids. This does not mean materially owning more things. However, there are things money can buy you to achieve that. As an example, I have piano lessons for myself and music lessons for my kids that cost about 6 to 8K per year. I get a great deal of joy out of my music. I budget about 10K to 20K for travel every year because I want to see the world and I want my kids to see the world. These items add up to a significant amount of money and I could not do these things if my salary was 50K a year, a median salary for a family of 4 in the USA.

For example, if there is $1 to 2 mil in you portfolio and you have 50K to 75K before taxes to live on, then that is not a 'great income' to have a nice life style. However, if you supplmented that by having $50k salary, then you may be able to do things that you thought not possible with either the income alone or just the earnings from the inheritance alone. This is why you talk to the financial advisor/planner to help you achieve your lifestyle goals, whatever they maybe....
You are extremely lucky. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Thank you for responding Kaismom and I am sorry I haven't gotten back to you or anybody sooner. I found a fantastic adviser that I really like. In response to your questions I am living the lifestyle I have always lived. I live on a very strict budget and sock away what is left. I am also lucky enough to live in an are where the cost of living is not that high. With the exception of my house I don't have any debt and my monthly expenses are very low. I haven't forgotten my children my son is able to do karate and my daughter ballet both at a relatively low cost. I haven't been on a vacation in a while but I have had a rough decade and there hasn't been time. I've lost 8 immediate family members including my mother, 4 more that weren't immediate, and separated from my husband. Things have gone from bad to worse with my father and I am currently losing him and losing a relationship with my brother because he and my father don't get along and my brother wants to be selfish. But I digress.

I am very concerned about growing the principle because I realize that even though my expenses are low it is not sustainable. I have set some stocks aside for living expenses and some aside for growth. I do plan on getting a job after this is all over with. Living on the dividends for the rest of my life was never in the cards. Thank you for pointing out that I am extremely lucky because some days I don't feel like I am.

Please excuse the grammatical errors. I know there are plenty. LOL I can do most any math problem in my head but give me a comma and a sentence and I will be there for hours. LOL

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 2:04PM
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