Recent Developments

o Banks and Powers of Attorney: If you're an agent under someone's power, say your mom, don't be surprised if banks, brokerage firms and others give you a hard time trying to manage mom's assets. They may send the power to their legal department for "review" (read languish). Tips for before: While mom is well, see of the bank has their own standard form for a power of attorney. Consider having mom signing it. Take the power into the bank in advance and have it approved. In addition to a lawyer prepared form, have mom sign a standard form commonly used in your state. Tips for after: If the power is springing (only effective if mom is disabled) be sure to provide the bank with corroboration proving disability (otherwise your power to act is not triggered). Some state laws mandate that if certain statutory language is included in the power banks in that state must accept the power. If your pointing that out to the bank doesn't solve the log jam, have your attorney do it. If you are in a branch, try to transfer accounts to a private bank or select client section of the bank where the service and sophistication are both greater. If all else fails, switch banks to one that is more cooperative. There is no shortage of great banks and trust companies that understand what a power is and how to provide service. Have the new institution "pull" the assets in from the old institution, rather than fighting with the old institution to transfer assets.

o Traveling While Ill/Disabled:

TSA and other security services may give you a tough time going through airport security with needles and other essential medical paraphernalia. Take along several sets of all physician letters, prescriptions, and other relevant documents. As a back up have your estate planner scan these documents, along with your living will and health care proxy. In the event of an emergency they can be emailed to you. Copies can then be printed in your hotel in the event of an emergency or for your return trip.

o Asset Allocation and REITs:

If your financial planner recommends an allocation to real estate as part of  your overall investment allocation model and suggests real estate investment trusts (REITs) as the vehicle, dig deeper. REIT is almost as generic a term as stocks. Shopping center REITs may perform vary differently then apartment REITs, etc. REITs can vary geographically. If you really want to diversify, all these variables should be evaluated. Be wary of advisers who recommend index funds on the basis that stock pickers cannot beat the market, then use private real estate deals for your real estate allocation. There is an inherent inconsistency in these positions. Ask why.

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