Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

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Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby texasgal47 » Sun May 05, 2013 12:08 pm

My portfolio was done 9 yrs. ago by a VG CFP and I'm meeting with a VG CFP next week. Portfolio size is 1.7M. $100,000 in gold coins is not being included in portfolio as haven't decided whether to keep or sell all of it. My portfolio is too complicated for my to appropriately manage. I definately need to simplify. My 401K plan allows me to roll all funds to an IRA with another investment firm at any time without penalty. I will most likely take advantage of this.

Emergency Funds: Yes + Have Long-Term Care Policy for Nursing Home and/or assisted Living
Debt: None
Tax Filing Status: Single
Tax Rate: 25%, State: 0%
State of Residence: Texas
Age: 66
Date Planned for retirement: Age 70 -- May be much sooner if parents permanently need significantly more assistance
Portfolio funds needed for retirement: $11,500/yr
Calculated RMD at age 70: ($30,000 -- $35,000 if I'm retired and 401K is included
Retirement income: $48,000 (Total of SS + late spouse's pension funds already being received)
Desired Asset Allocation: 50% stocks/50% bonds (still undecided) -- VG CFP recommends 10% bonds
Desired International Allocation: 12% stocks
Split of assets: 32.5% taxable accts, 67.5% tax-advantaged accounts (including I & EE bonds)

Current Retirement Assets:
32.5% -- MMF (All MMF are non-IRA -- most at VG & some at Am. Century)
10.7% -- I bonds (Keep as until maturity in 2030 to 2033 as base rate is 2.0% to 3.6% + rate of inflation)
0.06% -- EE bonds (Keep as beginning this year will receive major 17 year one time adjustment, continue over few more yrs)

401K - Principal Financial Group
8.84% - Lg Cap S&P 500 Index Sep Acct. ER:0.50 (Sell & roll to VG IRA)

IRA (Traditional) - American Century
2.1% -- Select Fund: TWCIX (Sell and roll to VG)

44.67% - IRA (Traditional) - Vanguard
Stock Funds: (all 4 stock funds below in a Traditional IRA at VG)
3.9% -- Explorer F. Admiral: VEXRX ER:0.34 Type: SmCapGrth/Bond (Sell & buy VG SmCapValue:VSIAX ER:0.10)
9.7% -- Morgan Growth F. Admiral: VMRAX ER: 0.23 Type: LgCapGrowth (Sell)
3.6% -- Strategic Equity Fund: VSEQX ER: 0.33 Type: Sliced Sm&MidCapBlend Index (Sell)
9.0% -- Windsor II - Admiral:VWNAX ER: 0.23 Type: LgCapValue (Sell)

Bond Funds: (all 4 bond funds below are in a Traditional IRA at VG)
6.5% -- High Yield Corporate Bond Admiral: VWEAX ER: 0.13 (Keep)
1.4% -- Intermeiate-Term Bond Index Admiral: VBILX ER: 0.11 (Keep in place of VG TotSkMkIndex & increase ???)
7.8% -- Intermediate-Term Investment Grade Bonds Admiral: VFIDX ER: 0.10 (Keep)
3.13% --Short-Term Investment Grade Bonds Admiral: VFSUX ER: 0.11 (Keep??)

0.77%-- IRA (Roth) --VG Total International Stock Index Admiral: VTIAX ER: 0.16 (Keep)

Questions:
1. An accountant recommended by my lawyer did not believe it would be an advantage to do Roth conversions from Traditional IRA funds. I'm thinking about changing small amounts over to keep my earned income for taxes under $85,000 to $80,000 due to increased taxes on my SS income and Increased costs in Medicare. Thoughts?
2. I'm considering gifting my two sons as part of estate planning. I don't trust the government to keep estate taxes where they just set them in the coming years despite the label of "permanent." Believe I could gift each of my parents and a dtr-in-law & trust they would immediately gift each of the sons to reach $50,000 for this year. Do you think the IRS would give me problems with that strategy? However, I wonder if keeping all assets would help me leverage in deciding which IRA funds to withdraw RMDs from each year. Thoughts on this?
3. Like most people, I'm really confused about bond funds vs. bonds in this bond environment. I'm a total novice when it comes to individual bonds. Anyway, thinking about a middle road approach of some type to hedge my bets. Recommendations?
4. How fast would you put the MMF into mutual funds? I'm tempted to do all at once to keep record keeping simpler despite the risk of this strategy. What would you do?

Key Points:
Considering allocating stock funds as follow:
VG TotStkMkt Index Admiral
VG SmCapValue Admiral
VG REIT Admiral (5% in IRA)
VG Tot International Stk Index Admiral
Last edited by texasgal47 on Sun May 05, 2013 3:15 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby Calm Man » Sun May 05, 2013 12:10 pm

If you need 11K a year and get 44K ss you have a free roll. The CFP will do a nice job setting up a 3 fund portfolio for you. But how in the heck can a person get 44K a year in social security? I think the max is about 2500 per month.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby Sam I Am » Sun May 05, 2013 12:42 pm

Message deleted.
Last edited by Sam I Am on Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby texasgal47 » Sun May 05, 2013 2:11 pm

Hi to all Bogleheads. I have to head out to catch up on some job related work but am eager for your recommendations--Will respond tomorrow. -- Thanks -- Texasgal
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby LAlearning » Sun May 05, 2013 2:44 pm

I will take a simple stab.

A few clarifications:
1) You only need 11.5K per year from the portfolio or 0.7%...this is far below the 4% rule and therefore you are sitting in great shape. You have "won" the game in essence.
2) Where are the "Bond Funds" located? If tax advantaged then easy to transfer, if not, then consider tax implications of selling/exchanging/keeping.

Therefore, as you state that things are too complicated for you here is a simplistic approach:

Tax-Advantaged (all accounts rolled over to 1 IRA at Vanguard): 57%
(VTINX) Target Retirement Income
-A 30/70 split stock/bonds. Super diversified (US, Intl, US Bonds, TIPS, Intl bonds). Self re-balancing. Low cost.

Taxable: 32.5%
(VTSAX) Total Stock Market Index (Low cost, tax efficient, diversified).
+/- (VTIAX) Total International Market Index (If needed, but it sounds like you don't want this much intl exposure, which is fine)

Not including your IBonds/EE Bonds this will give you a 55/45 split. Add in your Ibonds, basically 50/50.

Viola, retirement in 2 funds. As you take your RMD and (possibly) don't spend it, to continue your preferred asset allocation buy IBonds or tax-exempt munis.

Something to think about as Duckie would say...
I know nothing!
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby texasgal47 » Sun May 05, 2013 3:14 pm

Thanks, Alearning, I edited my post to clarify. All stocks and bonds are in an IRA at VG, unless otherwise stated. All MMF are Non-IRA. Will review your recommendations tomorrow and respond. Much appreciation for your assistance. -- Texasgal
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby letsgobobby » Sun May 05, 2013 3:21 pm

I'm interested that this is the second recent post in which a Vanguard CFP has recommended crazy low stock percentages (here 10%; recent other post 20%) for an investor in her 60s. Is this a new fad?

ETA: never mind. You're the same person.
Last edited by letsgobobby on Sun May 05, 2013 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby BolderBoy » Sun May 05, 2013 3:21 pm

Calm Man wrote:But how in the heck can a person get 44K a year in social security? I think the max is about 2500 per month.


The annual statements I get from SS show that if I wait until age 70 to start taking, my monthly will be $3200ish.

Not possible?
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby letsgobobby » Sun May 05, 2013 3:24 pm

I think it comes down to whether you have heirs (children or charities, for instance) that you want to receive money when you die. If you don't, you have way more money then you need and you can do almost anything reasonable and be fine. In that case simplicity definitely rules - a 3-5 fund portfolio is my recommendation (TSM, TISM, TBM, +/- TIPS, +/- international bonds).

If you want to leave a legacy, you need to be a little more thoughtful about the whole thing. In that case, first question I have is whether your pension is COLA-adjusted.

Also, to what extent, if any, do you expect to have to help your parents financially, or incur more personal costs as a result of needing to help them?
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby Duckie » Sun May 05, 2013 7:29 pm

texasgal47, you're thinking about an AA of 50% stocks, 50% bonds (reasonable), with 12% of stocks in international (that's low). That breaks down to 44% US stocks, 6% international stocks, and 50% bonds. Here is a possible retirement portfolio:

Taxable at Treasury Direct -- 11%
11% I bonds and EE bonds

Taxable at Vanguard -- 32%
26% (VTSAX) Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (0.05%)
6% (VTIAX) Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Admiral Shares (0.16%)

401k at Principal Financial Group -- 0%
0% S&P 500 Index (0.50%) <-- Is this your cheapest option?

Traditional IRA at Vanguard -- 56% <-- This includes the rollovers from the 401k and the American Century IRA.
12% (VTSAX) Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (0.05%)
5% (VGSLX) Vanguard REIT Index Fund Admiral Shares (0.10%)
30% (VBTLX) Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (0.10%)
9% (VAIPX) Vanguard Inflation-Protected Securities Fund Admiral Shares (0.10%)

Roth IRA at Vanguard -- 1%
1% (VTSAX) Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (0.05%)

My comments:
-- This has TISM in taxable to take advantage of the 
Foreign tax credit.
-- 12% of stocks in international is low. Vanguard has found that between 20% and 40% of stocks in international to be the "sweet spot". See the discussion and the Vanguard paper link. Vanguard splits the difference and uses 30% in their Target Retirement and LifeStrategy funds.
-- This has REITs because you want them but they're not necessary and just add another fund to keep track of.
-- LAlearning's plan is much simpler and will work very well, too.

Your questions:
1. An accountant recommended by my lawyer did not believe it would be an advantage to do Roth conversions from Traditional IRA funds. I'm thinking about changing small amounts over to keep my earned income for taxes under $85,000 to $80,000 due to increased taxes on my SS income and Increased costs in Medicare. Thoughts?
-- If you convert only up to the edge of your tax bracket, that'll work.

2. I'm considering gifting my two sons as part of estate planning. I don't trust the government to keep estate taxes where they just set them in the coming years despite the label of "permanent." Believe I could gift each of my parents and a dtr-in-law & trust they would immediately gift each of the sons to reach $50,000 for this year. Do you think the IRS would give me problems with that strategy? However, I wonder if keeping all assets would help me leverage in deciding which IRA funds to withdraw RMDs from each year. Thoughts on this?
-- Don't mess with the IRS. Just gift your two sons the $14K (2013 limit) each year. (Plus the daughter-in-law if you want.)

3. Like most people, I'm really confused about bond funds vs. bonds in this bond environment. I'm a total novice when it comes to individual bonds. Anyway, thinking about a middle road approach of some type to hedge my bets. Recommendations?
-- You have enough in assets to buy the individual bonds but then you write about simplifying things. Funds are much, much simpler. 60% TBM, 40% TIPS/I bonds/EE bonds will work just fine.

4. How fast would you put the MMF into mutual funds? I'm tempted to do all at once to keep record keeping simpler despite the risk of this strategy. What would you do?
-- I'd do it all at once, but you might want to fund one-third to one-half at once and then split the rest over the next six months. Since some of your tax-sheltered assets will be switching from stocks to bonds, it's only about 12% more stocks.

Something to think about.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby texasgal47 » Tue May 07, 2013 5:14 pm

First I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to all responders, but especially to LAlearning & Duckie for their astute rescommendations. Since I no longer have a spouse to bounce things off of this forum has been invaluable, in addition to the wisdom and education already dispensed my way in my brief time as a poster -- a very sincere thank you.

Now to respond to prior questions:
1. The pension is fixed and does not have the option of a COLA.
2. The odds are my parents will not need my financial assistance.
3. The fund offerings within my 401K are extremely poor. The Stock Index fund I'm currently in has an ER=0.31. All other funds I would be interested in are actively managed with expense ratios of over 1.0 and frequently, high levels of turnover within the fund. Despite the possible tax implications, I think it would be better to roll to an IRA at VG.

Concerns:
1. Bumping up into the 28% tax bracket. With the top of the 25% bracket at almost $88,000 for individuals and my income at $48,000 (SS + pension) + $35,000 (beginning RMDs at age 70) = $83,000 in retirement at age $70. Doesn't that leave me little room for growth within the IRA before reaching $88,000 income?
2. I can handle stock market upheavels with stocks but have no experience with a bond fund market with no where to go but up and a significant amount of my portfolio going into bond funds. Odds are bond rates will stay extremely low for the long term. However, I feel the need for some type of portfolio strategy to address the "what if?" The VG TotBndMktIndex F. makes me anxious. Strategies I've considered are a.) shifting AA to 55%stocks/45%bonds to counteract a possible big drop in the TotBdIdex F. (10%?); b.) Keeping my current 4 VG bond funds and transition to TotMkBndIndex after bond funds rise/
c.) Duckie has suggested adding the TIPSIndex fund d.) Putting all of the IRA into the Wellington Admiral which is mostly weighted in corporate bonds. I feel more comfortable with corporate bond funds than with treasries at this time. I know the Wellington is actively managed and more volatile but think my low expenses at this time could handle that. Plus, I could keep something more stable in the IRA also such as smll amt in VG Inflation-protected Short Term Bond Fd to withdraw the full required RMD from in a really down yr.

Final Thoughts:
I'm tempted to go with Duckie's portfolio recommendations due to the foreign tax credit, also will bump up Tot Intnl to 20%, perhaps 30%, perhaps eliminate the REIT. It's just the Tot Bond Index part that bothers me. :confused
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby Duckie » Tue May 07, 2013 8:20 pm

texasgal47 wrote:The fund offerings within my 401K are extremely poor. The Stock Index fund I'm currently in has an ER=0.31.

0.31% isn't bad for a 401k plan.

With the top of the 25% bracket at almost $88,000 for individuals and my income at $48,000 (SS + pension) + $35,000 (beginning RMDs at age 70) = $83,000 in retirement at age $70. Doesn't that leave me little room for growth within the IRA before reaching $88,000 income?

It leaves room for about $5K worth of conversions per year. Not a lot, but every little bit helps.

Odds are bond rates will stay extremely low for the long term. However, I feel the need for some type of portfolio strategy to address the "what if?" The VG TotBndMktIndex F. makes me anxious.

If you want mostly corporates and TBM is making you nervous then use (VFIDX) Vanguard Intermediate-Term Investment-Grade Fund Admiral Shares (0.10%) instead. It has less than 10% government bonds instead of TBM's almost 70%. Plus you have another 11% government bonds in taxable and may buy some TIPS, so it's not too lopsided.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby rickmerrill » Tue May 07, 2013 10:57 pm

There is a current thread "Help With Fixed Income Investments" which mentions Bogle's recommendation of corporate bonds: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115866. Valuethinker made some good points as to why this may not be a good idea. It might be useful to follow the thread to see if anyone disputes this. It also mentions grabiner had a related post with charts. I'll see if I can find it.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby texasgal47 » Wed May 08, 2013 12:08 am

Thanks Duckie for your additional comments and suggestion. Your clarity is always so helpful. Rick, I had already read that discussion you referred me to and will rethink my position on corporate bonds. Charts would be helpful, thank you. I've got to stop dithering and make some decisions. My appointment is with the VG CFP tomorrow. I'll see if he has any helpful bond charts to send my way. I'm still thinking of reducing my percentage in bonds to below what I prefer. However, too much growth in an IRA makes for higher RMDs and higher taxes later.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby texasgal47 » Fri May 10, 2013 12:52 am

The Vanguard CFP recommended 50% stocks/50% bonds which was my own conclusion. :D Now on to finalize the other detains. He recommends 30% of stocks in international. Hmmmm, still have to look at the data. I may drift down to 22%. It seems to me international stock funds have a bad habit of big drops of for long periods which are then help for long periods of time. Then at some point they suddenly wake-up and experience a sudden huge increase. I don't have much patience for a fund that seems to spend most of it's time in the "cellar," even if it means higher yield over the long haul. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby Duckie » Sat May 11, 2013 8:11 pm

texasgal47 wrote:It seems to me international stock funds have a bad habit of big drops of for long periods which are then help for long periods of time. Then at some point they suddenly wake-up and experience a sudden huge increase. I don't have much patience for a fund that seems to spend most of it's time in the "cellar," even if it means higher yield over the long haul. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

I've never noticed this, but then I don't study things that closely. It's your choice. If you're more comfortable with 22% of stocks in international or even 12% then that's it. This portfolio has to be something you can live with.
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Re: Request Help with a Major Portfolio Overhaul

Postby retiredjg » Sun May 12, 2013 10:27 am

1. An accountant recommended by my lawyer did not believe it would be an advantage to do Roth conversions from Traditional IRA funds. I'm thinking about changing small amounts over to keep my earned income for taxes under $85,000 to $80,000 due to increased taxes on my SS income and Increased costs in Medicare. Thoughts?

It is my understanding that 85% of your SS will be taxed either way. So why does it matter if your income is $80k or $85k?

I don't know about Medicare costs, but I would assume there would not be any difference in Medicare costs for $80k vs $85k either. Am I wrong about that?


3. Like most people, I'm really confused about bond funds vs. bonds in this bond environment. I'm a total novice when it comes to individual bonds. Anyway, thinking about a middle road approach of some type to hedge my bets. Recommendations?

Use bond funds for simplicity. Very few of us know enough about individual bonds to build a decent bond portfolio.


4. How fast would you put the MMF into mutual funds? I'm tempted to do all at once to keep record keeping simpler despite the risk of this strategy. What would you do?

I would not dilly dally, but if you cannot do it all at one time, set up a plan and get it done in 6 months or less.



3. The fund offerings within my 401K are extremely poor. The Stock Index fund I'm currently in has an ER=0.31. All other funds I would be interested in are actively managed with expense ratios of over 1.0 and frequently, high levels of turnover within the fund.

If you have a stock index fund at .31%, the plan is not extremely poor. Your other offerings may not be great though, but that doesn't matter much because you don't need to use them.


Despite the possible tax implications, I think it would be better to roll to an IRA at VG.

There are no tax implications of moving a 401k to an IRA. But maybe you are thinking about increases in SS and Medicare costs? Again, I'm not sure those are valid issues.


1. Bumping up into the 28% tax bracket. With the top of the 25% bracket at almost $88,000 for individuals and my income at $48,000 (SS + pension) + $35,000 (beginning RMDs at age 70) = $83,000 in retirement at age $70. Doesn't that leave me little room for growth within the IRA before reaching $88,000 income?

In reading this and other thread(s), it seems this is the issue that is causing you the most discomfort. I don't think it is an issue at all. Here's why.

    -The $87,850 maximum for taxable income will be higher in when you get to RMD time.

    -The $87,850 number refers to taxable income. Even if you make $88,000, by the time you reduce that by 1 exemption ($3,900 this year) and the standard deduction ($6,100 this year), your taxable income would be $78,000, nowhere near going over the line into the 28% tax bracket. And if you itemize deductions instead of using the standard deduction, you'd be even farther from the 28% bracket line.

    -Even if you did manage to bump into the 28% bracket, that will only affect the money over the 28% bracket line; it would not affect anything else that I can see. So if you went $1,000 into the 28% bracket, you'd pay $280 tax on that instead of $250 tax on it. (This assumes that you would not be in some kind of phase out.) In light of your huge portfolio, is that really something to worry about?


2. I can handle stock market upheavels with stocks but have no experience with a bond fund market with no where to go but up and a significant amount of my portfolio going into bond funds. Odds are bond rates will stay extremely low for the long term. However, I feel the need for some type of portfolio strategy to address the "what if?" The VG TotBndMktIndex F. makes me anxious. Strategies I've considered are a.) shifting AA to 55%stocks/45%bonds to counteract a possible big drop in the TotBdIdex F. (10%?); b.) Keeping my current 4 VG bond funds and transition to TotMkBndIndex after bond funds rise/

This shows that you really don't understand the current bond situation very well. Consider these things.

    1) It is true that bonds are not paying a great deal. Remember that sometimes stocks don't pay well (in fact can REALLY drop in value) but you are not particularly worried about that. Why the worry over bonds but not stocks? Is that rational?

    2) It is also true that bond rates may stay low for a long time. So? Is the income from bonds the only reason you hold them? Or do bonds have some other purpose in your portfolio that you can't achieve by adding on extra stocks?

    3) What if we do see interest rates rise by 1%? Vanguard's Total Bond Market Index has an average duration of 5.3 years so if interest rates rise by 1%, your TBM value might drop by about 5%....but it will also start paying you higher dividends because interest rates have risen! If interest rates rise by another 1%, the whole cycle starts over, including the part about higher dividends. So that "possible big drop" isn't really so much of a drop, is it?

    Also, remember that interest rates don't go up by 1% increments, so even if the described 2% increase in interest rates does occur, it is like to occur over at least a couple of years. For a person who wold not blink an eye at a 50% drop in stocks, why is this tiny drop in value for your bonds such a fearsome beast? (Answer - the financial media has to have something to write/talk about and that happens to be one of the few topics they've had to write/talk about for awhile.)

There are possible "solutions" to your fear of TBM. One would be to use shorter term bond funds which would have less of a drop in value when/if interest rates go up. The downside is that shorter term bond funds would pay you less than the TBM. Not a great trade in my opinion. Another possibility is to use CDs instead of bonds for part of your bond allocation. CDs are not paying great either, but there is no possibility that a CD will lose value - you might be more comfortable with that. A third possible solution is to continue to shift some of your bond allocation into I Bonds and EE bonds which will not lose value if held to maturity. Since there is a limit on how much you can buy of this stuff, this "solution" is of limited value.


Mostly, I'd like you to consider the things you are worried about and whether they are truly worthy of your concern and obvious discomfort. You've got a lot of money. Apparently you won't need most of it. You've got the long term care issue covered as best you can. So whatever money you have left will be going to your kids (and maybe charity).

The things you are worried about aren't going to matter much when it comes to how much money you leave behind. In fact, it seems to me you are mostly worried about "the small stuff", not the big stuff (which seems to be in good order other than needing simplification). I'm sure your kids would rather have a little smaller inheritance than to see you worry about some of these things. I feel sure they don't want you to have this much worry over things that will matter so little in the end.

I think (other than simplification) you are in great shape! I hope you will see that. And have a happy Mother's Day too! :D
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