For the week of March 24, 2008
The Dow set another closing record last Tuesday, its second in as many weeks, surging 420 points after
the Federal Reserve dropped the federal funds rate by three-quarters of a point. While the Dow dropped
Wednesday amid profit taking, it surged another 261 points on Thursday to close the shortened trade
week at 12,361.32. Markets were closed Friday in observance of the Good Friday holiday. The S&P
ended the week up 1.09 percent to finish at 1,329.51 and the Dow gained 1.77 percent to close the
week at 12,361.32. The NASDAQ lost 0.24 percent to end the week at 2,258.11.
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.
Past 20 Years – The average home price has increased 5.0 percent per year over the past 20 years
(1988-2007). The S&P 500 has increased 11.8 percent annually over the same period (Source: Office of
Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, BTN Research).
Global Shoppers – Americans bought $6.4 billion of foreign goods and services each day in calendar
year 2007. Just five years earlier (2002), Americans bought $3.8 billion of foreign products each day
(Source: Commerce Department, BTN Research).
I’ll Cut You Out – Ten percent of U.S. parents disinherit one or more of their children (Source: Money
Magazine, BTN Research).
One In A Hundred – Of U.S. households, 1.2 million have a net worth of at least $5 million, not counting
the family’s primary residence. There are approximately 110 million households in America (Source:
Census Bureau, Investment News, BTN Research).
It’s All Up Here – Less than half of Americans (46 percent) have documented the financial plan they
intend to follow to achieve their retirement objectives (Source: Opinion Research Corporation,
Investment News, BTN Research).
Exports – The upside to a weak U.S. dollar is that theoretically the cost of U.S. exports is cheaper for a
foreign buyer. The $148 billion of exports the U.S. recorded in January 2008 is an all-time monthly
record. That total is 80 percent more than the monthly export total recorded five years earlier (Source:
WEEKLY FOCUS - Executor Not Honorary Position
It appears that yet another celebrity estate battle has
begun, this time involving the will of actor Heath Ledger,
who died Jan. 22 at the age of 28. Ledger left behind a
2-year-old daughter, Matilda, but his will left his assets
to his parents and siblings. His father and an
independent executor have been handling Ledger’s
affairs, and his uncles claim that may not be the
wisest decision, as Ledger’s father was removed as
executor of their grandfather’s estate 15 years ago.
Naming an executor for your will (or trustee for your trust)
is not a way to reward or punish a friend or relative.
While it requires no specific legal expertise, the
position does require perseverance in making sure
creditors of the estate are paid and the ability to deal with forms and the bureaucrats who thrive on them.
In choosing an executor, you are essentially hiring someone to ensure that your estate is settled in the
manner you wished, as promptly as possible and with the least tax consequences.
An executor is entitled to payment from the estate assets, however, a friend or family member will often
waive this fee. That cost savings leads many individuals to choose the friends-and-family route rather
than hiring a professional, such as an attorney or accountant. A better basis for the decision may be the
amount of contention you anticipate among your heirs. If you expect some relatives to be disgruntled with
the decisions laid out in your will, an objective third-party may be worth the cost. Additionally, if settling
your affairs will involve operating a business until it is sold or new leadership has been named, an
institution such as a bank may be a better choice than a family member.
As Ledger’s situation illustrates, your will should be updated after significant events like the birth of a
child. For many people, this task winds up on the get-around-to-it list. If that sounds like you, consider
reviewing your will on a certain date each year. If you wish, we can make this a part of your regular
portfolio or financial plan review. We can even include other family members or your executor. Call our
office any time for 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.
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