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Smart Money: Lost temper makes a bad situation worse

DEAR BRUCE: I was in a medical appointment with a new physician. She read from my medical chart and it was obvious she had the chart for another person. After she told me I had had a medical procedure I never had, I questioned her and she realized her mistake. She had also sent a report to my insurance company with information from this person’s medical chart.

I became angry and told her to get my chart and she’d have to redo the insurance report. She told me she felt threatened by me, and I’d have to find another physician. She later sent me a letter saying I had insulted her and threatened her.

I have to find another physician to do the insurance report and I have to explain the errors to the insurance company. What would you do in a case like this? — P.J.



DEAR P.J.: I can understand your being upset because this could cause some serious mistakes on your future medical care. That having been said, I suspect that you really blew up on the doctor. While she might have been threatened at the time, she certainly should have cooled off.

I would send her a letter apologizing for my behavior, explaining that I was very upset because of the consequences that could have resulted from her error, and maybe you should start all over again. If that doesn’t work, find yourself another physician.




DEAR BRUCE: We’re a super senior couple (80-plus) with about $400,000 in an IRA account and $500,000 in a Schwab One account. Our investment plan for several years has been following the retirement portfolio in the No-Load Fund Investor newsletter. Schwab has suggested that we consider moving our accounts to their managed portfolio option (continuing with our conservative approach). What do you think? — F.L.

DEAR F.L.: Given the fact that you are a super senior couple, you might want to be a little more conservative than some kid around 65 years old!

First, if investing hasn’t worked out well for you, why not try this: Take the Schwab approach with a small amount of money, or even just do it hypothetically, for six months and see how their handling of your account compares to the proven value of the Investor account.

Second, at your advanced age, consider a relatively conservative investment such as moving into three or four well-established American companies that have a record of paying dividends and having a decently predictable increase in value over the years.

DEAR BRUCE: My father is getting a settlement from an insurance company in the next couple of days.

The amount of the check is $125,000. My father is 69 years old. Does he have to pay taxes? What should I tell him before he deposits the check in the bank? — Jeff

DEAR JEFF: When you say your father is getting a settlement, I assume that means he suffered a loss in some way, and he is being paid $125,000 as a result of the coverage, either by the person who did something that didn’t work out too well for him, or from insurance he was carrying. Under those circumstances, there are no taxes to be paid. The insurance is getting him back to where he was.

You don’t have to give your father any advice. Just tell him to deposit the check in the bank.

He can then use that money to buy back the things he lost.

Send questions to bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns.


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