For the week of January 26, 2009
Wall Street see-sawed daily last week as investors absorbed wide-ranging earnings reports. With the
markets closed last Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Dow dropped 4 percent on Inauguration
Tuesday, climbed back up 3 percent on Wednesday, fell again Thursday and then staged a small intra-
day rally on Friday only to end the day with a loss. For the week, the Dow fell 2.42 percent to close at
8,077.56. The S&P declined 2.11 percent to end the week at 831.95, and the NASDAQ lost 3.40
percent to finish the week at 1,477.29.
Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and
cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week”
returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.
The Next Year – In the past 75 years (i.e., 1934-2008), the S&P 500 stock index has suffered total
return losses of at least 20 percent in four different calendar years. The most recent was last year’s 37
percent decline. In the year after the three previous tumbles of more than 20 percent, the index gained an
average of 32 percent. (Source: BTN Research)
Out Of Pocket – Households pay 31 percent of total health care expenditures (e.g., prescription drugs,
hospital care, physicians’ costs, clinical services, nursing home care). The remaining 69 percent is paid
by businesses, insurance companies and governments (federal, state and local). The data is from
calendar year 2007 (Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, BTN Research).
Missing The Best Days – The average total return for the S&P 500 over the past 25 years (i.e., 1984-
2008) is 9.8 percent per year. If you missed the 25 best percentage gains days in those 25 years (i.e., 25
days in total, not 25 days each year), your average total return falls to 3.9 percent per year (Source: BTN
Happy Together – In an AARP survey of retired married couples, 64 percent said retirement was
exactly what they expected; 12 percent found it harder and 23 percent found it easier. The survey found
that although 29 percent of respondents admitted they are more worried about money than before
retirement, they also reported increasing more costly activities like travel, eating out and hobbies along
with more budget-friendly endeavors like exercising, volunteering and spending time with family (Source:
AARP, Boomer Market Advisor).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Beneficiary Designations Trump Wills
Births, deaths, marriages, divorces – the events and
people in your life are forever changing. Have your
beneficiary designations changed accordingly? Your
insurance policies, pension plans, individual retirement
plans, annuities and other investment accounts require
that you select one or more beneficiaries in the event of
If you believe your will to be the only document you need
to keep current, you may be surprised to learn that a
beneficiary designation trumps a will. For example, if
your children are named in your will, but your ex-spouse
is still listed on your pension plan, your ex-spouse is
entitled to that money. A thorough review of beneficiary
designations should be part of the finalization process during a divorce.
Unmarried people often name their parents or a sibling as a beneficiary, but fail to make a change after
their marriage or birth of a child, which can leave a young family financially at risk if that spouse should
die. If you don't name beneficiaries for your assets, they may be subject to probate. Rather than those
assets passing directly to your heirs, they will be lumped into your estate and dispensed by the court
during probate. The assets may be subject to additional taxes as a result.
Naming contingent beneficiaries is just as important as naming primary beneficiaries. In the event a
primary beneficiary passes away before you, you have made sure your assets will go to the recipient(s)
you want. Some experts suggest naming two contingent beneficiaries for each primary one, just to be
safe. For example, you can name your spouse as your beneficiary, with each of your children as a
If you haven’t reviewed your beneficiary designations for your insurance, banking and investment
accounts, this is a great time to do so. You can make it part of your annual review or the preparation of
your tax returns. We are happy to assist you in reviewing your accounts and making any necessary
changes to ensure your assets reach your intended beneficiaries at your death. Call our office to
schedule an appointment.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of
the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-
chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common
stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan
Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized
benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies
representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all
dividends. Written by Securities America. SAI# 293132
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