Q. I'm being forced to retire but I am close to Medicare age and I will be receiving a decent retirement package. I don't know if I should take a lump, keep it in the IRA account started here, or just leave it with my employer. I've never managed money and am nervous about being responsible for it. My wife wants me to take it all and put it into bonds because she doesn't trust anyone anymore.
Ans. Your wife's plan may cause serious tax ramifications. Start asking questions. Learn exactly how much money you have, what's going to happen if you take charge of it, and how you can make sure it will last as long as you and your wife do. Find a responsible financial manager with help from your CPA and/or lawyer. Speak to people who have hired that person. Do not walk into any firm you've seen advertised on TV and do whatever they suggest without questions. When you find the right person, remain cautious. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You must read the monthly financial statements carefully and if there is anything you don't understand, your adviser must be able to explain it to you. He or she also should suggest and explain ways to avoid paying taxes on social security; if you are a candidate for one of the many Roth IRAs; if you should consider some annuities, and how you can protect your heirs from unnecessary taxes. But remember, YOU must stay in charge of all final decisions. It shouldn't frighten you. Learning to understand and manage your financial position should be liberating and empowering.