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SMART MONEY: Proximity irrelevant when choosing a broker

by By BRUCE WILLIAMS on March 17, 2013 2:50 AM

DEAR BRUCE: My wife and I, both retired, received a nice inheritance in the form of stocks and bonds. The investment company and the representative who dealt with us are in our hometown, but we have since moved many states away.

Should we continue with this same office and representative, or should we now deal with the company’s office in our new town? Of course the original representative would like to keep us; we just don’t know if this is wise or not. — Joseph in Michigan

DEAR JOSEPH: Given that the representative handling the stocks and bonds apparently has done a decent job and had the confidence of your benefactor, and considering your lack of knowledge in this area, I would have no problem keeping the investments with the original representative.

The fact that he or she is in another state has no relevance.

I originally lived in New Jersey and now live in Florida. I still have investments with a company in my first hometown. In today’s world, no matter where the broker is, he’s in your backyard.

DEAR BRUCE: Is there any way I can protect myself from my husband’s debt? — Reader, via email

DEAR READER: You have asked a profound and deep question to which there is no absolute answer.

First, it depends on what you have signed during your marriage. Generally speaking, a husband and wife are both considered liable for debts incurred during the marriage. Even if the courts decide that your husband is responsible as far as creditors are concerned, you — as his wife — are very much on the notes.

If you are as concerned as you appear to be, you should consult an attorney in your state and find out precisely what you can do now to protect your interests. Time is your enemy; get on it.

Send questions to bruce@brucewilliams.com or to Smart Money, P.O. Box 7150, Hudson, FL 34674. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided. The Bruce Williams Show can now be heard at www.brucewilliams.com on the Made in America Broadcast Network.

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