DEAR BRUCE: I'm a single senior citizen who was married and now divorced twice. I have three grown children by wife No. 1 and none by wife No. 2. My first wife is happily married. However, wife No. 2 has never remarried since our divorce in 1990 and has kept my name. There has never been any sort of relationship after the divorce with either. Can my first wife also file a claim on my Social Security after my death? -- P.C.
DEAR P.C.: Whether you are living or not, your first wife may make a claim on your Social Security, assuming that the marriage lasted at least 10 full years or more. Your death is not a variable here.
She must first claim under her own Social Security and then determine whether or not there will be any additional value in claiming under yours. You have no control over this, and there is no penalty in regards to your own collection of Social Security.
DEAR BRUCE: I recently inherited $60,000. My husband and I have three children. We both work full-time and have several years left on our mortgage. We also have a few credit cards with balances, no car payments and a small savings.
What would be the best investment with this money? Should I put $1,000 in CDs for each child? Do I invest in stocks, bonds, CDs or IRAs for my husband and me?
We want this money to make us money, but aren't sure how. I have an appointment with a financial adviser, and thought I would seek your opinion, as well. -- L.S.
DEAR L.S.: Congratulations on your inheritance. Given everything that you mentioned, I would suggest that you pay off the credit card balances, since you're probably paying five or six times more in interest than what you would earn if you kept the money invested.
Beyond that, even though as these words are written the stock market is taking a tumble, for young people, investing the balance of the $60,000 in the marketplace over a period of time would be the best way to go. You could put some of the money into a tax-deferred and tax-free investment, if it's used for college. That's not a bad idea if you had a bit more money, but since you have a very small savings, I would put the money into the market in good, solid American companies.
(Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)
(The Bruce Williams Radio Show can now be heard 24/7 via iTunes and at www.taeradio.com. It is also available at www.brucewilliams.com.)