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  • "Death Panels" Aside, End-of-Life Planning Is Important

    Discussions about so-called 'Death Panels' in health care reform have been a hot topic on both conservative and liberal media outlets across the country. Whatever you think of the term, such discussions about possible rationing of health care has forced all of us to look beyond the immediate effect of health care legislation and consider what it might become in the future. I usually refer to this as the "law of unintended consequences," but this time I think the eventual move to a single-payer system that rations care is fully intended. Obama has said as much in the past on numerous occasions.

    Death Panel discussions, however, have also had another positive effect. I have read a number of articles by doctors and other professionals who welcome the issue of end-of-life planning being brought into the forefront. It seems that the controversy has made it fashionable to talk about this very difficult stage of life planning, which is a good thing. I can tell you from my experience as an Investment Advisor that many people die without having first provided their loved ones with sufficient information to carry on their financial affairs. This week, I'm going to talk about how to avoid the confusion and pain that can result from loved ones being uninformed about your financial matters upon an untimely death. I have also negotiated a discount on a very worthwhile resource that will help you gather this necessary information and keep it updated.

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  • Insurance Companies - The Next Shoe to Drop?

    Over the last year, the financial media has focused primarily on the major banks and their solvency issues. We have heard relatively little about the major insurance companies, which were not eligible to participate in federal bailout programs such as the TARP. As I will detail in the following pages, most of the major insurance companies are in financial trouble due to the recession and the credit crisis; some major insurers are large players in derivative instruments such as Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations which have gone bad. In addition, many property and casualty insurers were dealt a blow by the natural disasters (hurricanes) that occurred last year. Some in the industry predict that if we have another bad hurricane season this year, a number of the nation's largest insurers will go out of business entirely.

    The publicly-traded insurers will be releasing their required 10-Q financial statements for the 1Q in the next few weeks, along with their 10-Ks for all of 2008. I am told that these reports are going to look very negative on balance, and this could be quite disturbing to the financial markets including stocks. As we go along, I will tell you specifically what to look for in these financial reports to judge the credit worthiness of your particular insurer. This may be one of the most important and timely E-Letters I have published....