Inheritance investment depends on accessibility

Women & money

April 24, 1991|By Karen Lazarovic | Karen Lazarovic,Columbia Features Inc.

Q.I recently inherited $25,000. I would like to invest this money where I can earn more interest than my savings account. I am afraid to take risks with my money. What do you recommend?

A. What I would recommend would depend upon your individual situation and whether or not you want any or all of this money accessible to you. For example, if you need part of the money as a cash reserve for emergencies, I would recommend that you consider an insured money market account available through many banks and savings and loan associations. The money would be readily available with no penalty for withdrawal. If you want to save some of the money for retirement, you may want to consider an annuity. These are available through insurance companies and are considered to be safe if purchased from a reputable company. It is best to deal with a well-established company that has an A plus rating from A. M. Best, a company that rates insurance companies.

Q.I opened an IRA account with a mutual fund. I had a portion of my money in their money market fund and they just sent me a dividend check for a small amount. Since this is my IRA, and I am not yet retired, can I cash this check?

A.No. Every once in a while, dividend checks on IRA accounts are mailed out in error. This is one of the more confusing and dangerous mistakes made by "back offices" of brokerage and mutual fund firms since IRA accounts are strictly regulated by the Internal Revenue Service. With few exceptions, withdrawals from an IRA before age 59 1/2 are subject to a regular income tax on the distribution plus a ten percent federal penalty tax. Receipt of a dividend could fall into this category. Therefore, you should return the check with a letter stating that the check was sent through a mistake by the mutual fund. Keep a copy of the letter for your own records should there be a problem with the IRS.

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