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Jewish World Review July 20, 2000 /17 Tamuz, 5760

Bruce Williams

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Consumer Reports


Where's my prize?


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: I was born on Hospital Day, May 1948. After my parents died, I discovered a newspaper clipping in my baby book that said that my mother was presented with an envelope and a check for me to start a savings account at a trust company in an area that no longer exists.

What would happen to that account? Is this something that I should check on or just forget about? -- M.D., via e-mail

DEAR M.D.: I am assuming that your mother got the check because you were the first child born on that special day.

Most likely the amount was rather small. In the event that the account was inactive for three or four years and they couldn't find your mom, the money would have gone to the escheat division of that state.

While the money would earn no interest, if you could demonstrate that you were its proper owner, it would be turned over to you.

The problem with this whole thing is that I doubt very seriously if it's worth your attention, since the amount involved, in all likelihood, would have been very minor considering the relative worth of a dollar.

DEAR BRUCE: My mom is 88. She has 19,000 shares of a company from which my brother has just retired as CEO. He advises my mother to sell 1,000 shares, pay the taxes and use this to supplement her Social Security.

She lives alone and takes good care of herself, and every winter she and I go to Arizona. She doesn't want to pay taxes, but then who does?

I want her to sell at least half of the stock and spread it around. My brother points out that with his plan, if my mother lives another 10 years, she'll still have half the money. I don't want the money; I just think her investments should be diversified. -- K.M., via e-mail

DEAR K.M.: Under ordinary circumstances I would tend to agree with you. However, your brother, having been the CEO of this company for a decade, certainly has inside knowledge as to the strength of the company.

Given that and the tax advantage to your mother's estate in having the shares in her name, I would tend to go with your brother's advice.

DEAR BRUCE: Can you please explain what a blind trust is? -- C.L., Harriman, Tenn.

DEAR C.L.: A blind trust is simply one whereby the owner of the assets of the trust has no knowledge of how they are being invested or when they are being divested. The idea is for someone, for example public-office holders, to be able to operate within that office without any conflicts of interest, since they would not know what companies they had a position in.

Unless you are in a circumstance of this kind, I can't imagine why you would even consider such an arrangement.



Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).

Up

07/18/00: Getting out of an upside-down loan
07/13/00: Death is no escape
07/12/00: Multiplying dollars
07/10/00: Making sense of retirement investing
07/07/00: 'Bankruptcy does follow us around'
07/06/00: In which state should I file my income tax?
07/03/00: When to diversify assets
06/30/00: I'm buying my dad's house
06/29/00: How social security seniors should invest
06/27/00: Waiting before re-establishing credit
06/21/00: Insuring an older car
06/19/00: Take the money and run!
06/16/00: Utility company incursion
06/15/00: Insurance settlement is no bargain
06/13/00: A straightforward form of bankruptcy
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06/05/00: Do I really need title insurance?
06/01/00: The truth about nursing home insurance
05/30/00: Keep mother-daughter loan simple
05/25/00: CDs for security, not investment
05/24/00: Battling with collection agency
05/22/00: Are callable CDs a waste of time?
05/18/00: Building a college fund
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05/11/00: Your heirs, your choice
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03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
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02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
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02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
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09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
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