DEAR BRUCE: I am fortunate to have an employee-funded retirement. I am 67 and retiring in three months, and I must decide on one of these options: 1. A single cash payout of $780,000. 2. Monthly annuity of $5,300 for life. 3. Monthly annuity of $6,100 guaranteed for 10 years plus life (there are five- and 20-year options, as well).
I own my home and car, have no debt and a little more than $1 million in a combination of tax-deferred and regular savings accounts. My health is good except that I have reduced kidney function, which has been stable for a few years. My children are high-income earners who don't need an inheritance, but I would like to leave them as much as possible. -- J.B.
DEAR J.B.: Seems to me that you have things under control. In my opinion, the single cash payout would be the only way to go. That way, you are guaranteed that that much money will be available to you during your lifetime, and will very likely contribute to your estate. With over $1 million in a combination of tax-deferred and regular savings accounts, and a $780,000 cash payout, you can live a very good life and not have anything to worry about.
As to where your money should be invested, in my opinion, it should be in long-established companies paying a dividend and showing a growth rate of 2 percent to 4 percent on average a year. As to the heirs, I would leave the money in your name so if things turn around, you still have options. Your kids will get the money when it's time.
Take the cash payout, invest it wisely and enjoy your life.
DEAR BRUCE: I am 62 years old. My husband and I didn't have any retirement savings. He died in an accident, and I was blessed with a settlement.
The money was invested with a major bank institution. The market crashed as soon as I put the money in it. They were able to receive $15,000 in fees, and now that the market has been recovering, I have seen only a $6,000 profit.
Something tells me there is something wrong with this picture. Where do you think my money should be? I would like to see my money work for me, not the financial institution. -- M.C.
DEAR M.C.: I can't imagine, unless you took the money out of the market after it crashed, why you wouldn't have recovered it. The market has recovered completely and is now showing a profit. On the other side of that, if you panicked and closed out most of your accounts, unfortunately, there is little anyone can do for you.
You mentioned the money was invested with a major bank. I would have to know the details of the investment, but on balance, I wouldn't look at this with any high hope of substantial recovery unless you can demonstrate there was something the bank did that was against the law.
There are many legitimate companies that will represent you in a circumstance of this kind and charge you only if they manage to recover. You should investigate them.
(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.)