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DEAR BRUCE: I am in my early 70s and have a few bucks that I would like to invest. Many of my friends have been suggesting that I invest in an annuity. They have invested in them and say it’s the only way to go. I don’t know much about them, so I’m looking to you for your sage advice. Are there any that are insured and that have a hedge against inflation? — Reader, via e-mail

DEAR READER: Generally, the benefits of an annuity are relatively modest, although there are times when a single premium annuity might be in your best interest. The problem with buying an annuity at your age is that the penalties may be high. As to whether they are insured, the insurance is the integrity of the insurance company issuing the annuity. I tend to steer people in your age group away from annuities. There are many ways to invest your money and an annuity is not one that in all likelihood will be appropriate for you.

DEAR BRUCE: My wife’s 90-year-old father is living with us. When he and his wife were married, for whatever reason, they had two wills made out that were identical. Both stated that the surviving spouse is left with everything. Since she has passed away, does he need to make out a new will? — Reader in Arizona

DEAR READER: In your rather short letter you didn’t elaborate on how much the estate was worth. He most likely will have to probate the will in the courts. Unless it’s a huge estate most likely there will be no federal or state taxes; in which case, it must be probated. Even if the other wills provide for alternate beneficiaries, it does need to be updated now that her mother is no longer living. The new will should state that whatever assets are remaining in terms of real estate and any personal property, and how that is to be divided up. It is so much cleaner to do this ahead of time than to try and sort it out after someone passes away.

Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 2095, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns.