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Sunday, December 3, 2017

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Pickup Trucks: Photo Gallery: Best Pickups of the 2017 L.A. Auto Show

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 06:00 AM PST

Although we did get a big surprise when the “Star Wars”-themed Nissan Titan AT-M6 made its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, no new pickup trucks were introduced at the show. However, we did see plenty of pickups on display so we thought we’d give you our top 10 of the good, the bad and the ugly. And as a bonus, we’ve dropped a few more pickup truck photos at the end.

Cars.com photos by Christian Lantry, Mark Williams

Nissan Titan AT-M6 concept


2018 Ram 1500 Hydro Blue Sport


2018 GMC Sierra 2500 All Mountain


2017 Unimog U530 dump bed


2017 K6 6×6 (sort of a pickup)


2018 Toyota Tundra TRD Sport


1935 Galpin Ford shop truck


1950s Galpin Ford F-100


2018 Bollinger Electric 4×4


2017 Ford F-150 Expedition

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Packrat husband leaves wife feeling smothered

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for seven years, and I care for him deeply. When we got married, I sold my house and he kept his as a rental, because he wanted the rental income.

We bought a larger house than I wanted, but he wanted acreage and a detached garage.

I did not realize he just wanted to fill the extra space with junk.

He has now a two-car detached garage full of stuff he collects and buys. He has two tractors, two four-wheelers, six trailers, four riding lawnmowers, about five rolling toolboxes, many desks and a wrecked car. If he sees a “good deal,” he buys it.

I used to think that he would buy something and then resell it to make money, but he does not part with anything. He has to have two or more of everything, and most of it is junk.

I am 65 and have serious health problems. I cannot handle the stress of all this stuff we do not need. I get exhausted and feel smothered. I want to live a stress-free, minimalist lifestyle.

He laughs and makes fun of me when I try to explain to him how I feel. That hurts! When I ask him to just clean up the messes or to get rid of stuff, he says, “Wa-wa-wa-wa! Get used to it because this is me.”

I am not sure I can get used to it. I find myself longing for a nice, neat cottage somewhere.

Everybody says if I love him it should not matter, I say if he loves me he should hear me and try to make some changes. What do you say?

— Neatfreak

Dear Neatfreak: Your husband sounds as if he has some hoarding (or at least, “pack rat”) tendencies, and unfortunately this practice of buying, accumulating and never getting rid of anything is a very hard habit to break. Studies of hoarders seem to conclude that this tendency has a relationship to some mental health issues — mainly anxiety. Accumulating things relieves anxiety, while parting with them causes it. Your husband is demonstrating his extreme attachment to things when he discounts your discomfort and the impact on your health. He announces that he will NOT try to do things differently, but that you are the one who will have to change.

If you want to stay married to the person who accuses you of whining about his unhealthy lifestyle, the answer for you might be to basically sell your half of the house to him, and set yourself up in a small, tidy place nearby. That way you two could share meals and conjugal visits, but you would be relieved of the stress of cohabiting.

Dear Amy: Our son married a lovely girl — an only child of very kind, generous parents.

The “other” in-laws have two vacation homes, which are basically extensions of my son and daughter in-law’s home. The in-laws frequently take them out to eat when they’re at their vacation homes.

My husband and I are often included, and this is the problem.

We are on a fixed income. We are not necessarily cheap, but are still frugal.

The in-laws always want to pay and have the means to do so at these nice restaurants. Our son rarely reaches for the check at the end of a meal, which we do not think is right.

We want to pay our way, but can’t cover all. Sometimes we split the check half and half. Even that kind of becomes a scene, as the in-laws want to pay the entire bill.

We are all about to go on a trip together, so how do we delicately handle this situation?

— Worried Parents

Dear Worried: You should accept the occasional generosity of these in-laws, with grace and gratitude. People of great means are often very happy and most comfortable when they pick up the check — and these in-laws seem to fall into that category.

If you are traveling together, it would be a good idea if you and your spouse could plan (and pay for) a special outing for the group — a tour of a special attraction, perhaps, followed by a meal.

Dear Amy: Poor “Lonely Girlfriend!” She was whining about how her hardworking boyfriend didn’t have time for her. Thank you for suggesting that if she became more hardworking, she wouldn’t feel so lonely!

— Happily Employed

Dear Employed: Yes, “Lonely Girlfriend” definitely needed to get a job.

(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.)

OMARR’S DAILY ASTROLOGICAL FORECAST, For release 12/03/17 for 12/03/17

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

BIRTHDAY GAL: Actress Daryl Hannah was born in Chicago on this date in 1960. This birthday gal has starred in such movies as “I Am Michael,” “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” and “Splash.” She starred as Angelica Turing on the sci-fi series “Sense8” and has appeared on episodes of “Hawaii Five-O.” Hannah has also starred in the TV movies “Zombie Night,” “Social Nightmare,” and “Storm Seekers.” She made her film debut in the 1978 movie “The Fury.”

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the coming week you are likely to be filled with warm feelings toward others. You may inadvertently step on some toes while seeking companionship. Heightened ambition could desensitize you to the word “no.”

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Guard against financial losses. The Full Moon may light up areas where you are spending money on numerous unnecessary fees, but it will add up. As this week unfolds find way to insure your financial security.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): The Full Moon in your sign may make you more aware of relationship issues as this week unfolds. You may look on the dark side and be pessimistic when you should be sympathetic. Hold off on key decisions.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Tune your consciousness to the problems of the world. Solve environmental issues that are within reach; turn off a light or use a recycling bin. It may be difficult to attain your business goals in the early part of the week.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Today’s Full Moon may reveal how much you rely upon the opinions of others. As the week unfolds you may realize there is more to life than duty and ambition. Your focus may shift to creative activities or homegrown pleasures.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Be proud of what you have, without coveting what others may have. New friendships and acquaintances could create some discomfort in the week ahead if you spend too much time comparing possessions.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You may try to mix business and pleasure in the upcoming week, but in some cases it may be like mixing oil and water. You may have the impulse to bring new acquaintances into your home or into your confidence.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): This may be a great week to meet new friends or develop contacts who broaden your knowledge. You may feel compelled to pinch your pennies in the first half of the week when you should avoid making new investments.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): During the first half of the week you might not succeed no matter how much you try. Later in the week focus on making your surroundings a place of peace and contentment. Invite trusted friends to visit.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Steer a straight course no matter how tempting it is to take a detour. You maybe irked by companions who change their minds about business decisions at an awkward moment. Avoid arguments in the week ahead.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You may sometimes feel lost in a forest without a breadcrumb trail. Remember that the scariest fairy tales have a happy ending. Maintain a positive attitude and problems will resolve themselves during the week ahead.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Open the windows and let in fresh air and sunshine. Avoid dark, gloomy places and people during the week to come. You may be challenged to deal with those who encourage you to dip into savings or change your investments.

IF DECEMBER 3 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: Enjoy peace and contentment during the next three to four weeks as you get a chance to relax and immerse yourself in a few of your favorite fantasies. In late January and early February you can make headway with a job, a business, finances, or your career. You may be given a chance to show off your leadership abilities or offered an opportunity to try something new. This is a good time to embrace whatever is presented and to make wise decisions. Late April or very early May is the best time to address investments or to reevaluate a business proposal. Late May is a prime time to express your romantic longings by visiting exotic places, taking a vacation or enjoying an amorous escapade.

*Pluggers – Color Comic Panel – 20171203cpplc-s.jpg

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

LATEST LINE

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

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             By J. McCarthy  

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Detroit is 1-16 straight-up and 6-10-1 against the spread their last 17 road games following a Thanksgiving Day game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is 2-11 against the spread his last 13 December games versus a team with a winning record. Baltimore is 3-1 against the spread the last 4 games in this series. Take Baltimore -3 for another Best Bet winner. Other plays include San Francisco +3 1/2 vs. Chicago, Carolina +5 vs. New Orleans and Seattle +5 1/2 vs. Philadelphia.

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                      NFL  

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 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  

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                     Week 13   BALTIMORE             3      (43)         Detroit   CHICAGO               3 1/2  (41)   San Francisco   ATLANTA               3      (47)       Minnesota   New England           8 1/2  (48.5)       BUFFALO   Denver                1 1/2  (40)           MIAMI   TENNESSEE             6 1/2  (43)         Houston   JACKSONVILLE          9 1/2  (40.5)  Indianapolis   GREEN BAY             2 1/2  (45)       Tampa Bay   Kansas City           3 1/2  (43.5)       NY JETS   NEW ORLEANS           5      (48)        Carolina   LA CHARGERS           14     (44)       Cleveland   LA Rams               7      (44.5)       ARIZONA   OAKLAND               8 1/2  (42)       NY Giants   Philadelphia          5 1/2  (47)         SEATTLE                   Monday, Dec 4th.   Pittsburgh            4 1/2  (43)      CINCINNATI  

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                      NBA  

————————————————-

 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  

————————————————-

 a-NEW YORK           OFF     (OFF)        Orlando   Golden St             10 1/2 (218.5)        MIAMI   MINNESOTA             11     (213.5)  LA Clippers   OKLAHOMA CITY         4      (198)    San Antonio   Houston               11     (225)      LA LAKERS  

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a-New York Forward K. Porzingis is questionable.

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               College Basketball  

————————————————-

 Favorite            Points               Underdog  

————————————————-

 ALABAMA               10 1/2      Central Florida   MISSISSIPPI ST        7 1/2                Dayton   NORTH CAROLINA        20                   Tulane   Kansas St             2                VANDERBILT   AUBURN                14 1/2         George Mason   LOUISVILLE            3 1/2            Seton Hall   PURDUE                14             Northwestern   BOISE ST              19 1/2             Portland   MICHIGAN ST           20                 Nebraska   Stanford              4 1/2         LONG BEACH ST   Tennessee             4              GEORGIA TECH   SAN DIEGO ST          11 1/2              Bradley   MINNESOTA             14                  Rutgers   Maryland              2 1/2              ILLINOIS   UCLA                  20 1/2              Detroit                     BB&T Classic            Capital One Arena-Washington, DC.   Temple                11 1/2    George Washington   Georgetown            25 1/2            Coppin St                     Added Games   IPFW                  15         SIU Edwardsville   JACKSONVILLE ST       9 1/2               Samford   WASHINGTON            12 1/2       Nebraska Omaha   MONTANA               12 1/2        CS Northridge  

————————————————-

                       NHL  

————————————————-

 Favorite             Goals    (O/U)      Underdog  

————————————————-

 CHICAGO             Even-1/2  (5.5)   Los Angeles   WINNIPEG            Even-1/2  (5.5)        Ottawa   VEGAS                1/2-1    (6)         Arizona   Dallas              Even-1/2  (6)        COLORADO  

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               Home Team in CAPS  

————————————————-

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Need new career contacts? Network!

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

DEAR JOYCE: I’m a woman who, at 44, finds herself competing with three younger men in their late 20s and early 30s for a position as manager of several retail stores. Although I have the much stronger background and women are receiving fairer treatment in the job market today, I sense the outcome is uncertain. Suggestions? — P.Y.

Never has it been more important to participate in professional organizations and to network with other groups and individuals, including parents you meet when driving your kids to school.

Contacts you nurture over the years are the people most likely to return your calls and open doors for you when, job-wise, “you’re standing in the rain at midnight.”

As you network, emphasize your mastery of the profit picture versus technical tasks that a trainee could handle. Networking is not as difficult as some introverts fear. Up-to-date know-how will help you put a lid on your high-stakes shakes and win the job.

DEAR JOYCE: What’s your suggested answer when an interviewer asks “What will it take for you to make a move?” — E.C.

Among a number of ways you could handle this probe, here’s a short and sweet answer that’s easy to remember:

“Salary is an important consideration on a move. So is stability, opportunity for advancement, challenge and the people with whom I will work. If you decide I bring the most value to your company, I would expect you to make me your best offer. Are we on the same page?”

DEAR JOYCE: My boss has asked me to do something illegal in relation to customer billing. I refused and laughed, pretending that he was kidding. If he asks again, what’s a good strategy that won’t get me fired? — S.K.

Your response was a bulls-eye! Repeat it if he asks again. If and when you’re sure he’s serious, stall and bring reason to the table at a later time.

Don’t think if you comply and commit an illegal deed at your boss’s behest that you’ll be excused because your actions were directed by your employer. What you’ll likely be is arrested.

If there’s no way out of your problem except the door, tell prospective employers that you are looking for greater opportunity. You can’t prove what really happened, and you may be sued for slander. If you have further questions on this issue, check with a lawyer, preferably an employment lawyer.

DEAR JOYCE: I will switch jobs or change my career. I’ve got to get out of this lunatic place. As a professional, I’m supposedly paid well, but not for an 80-hour week of frustration. Help! — G.W.

Are you sure you’re exempt from overtime pay? Details have changed over the past several years, and you may benefit with the investment of a little time online getting up to speed on this issue.

(E-mail your career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at jlk@sunfeatures.com; use “Reader Question” for subject line.)

Should parents say no to new Amazon teen shopping tool?

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

I don’t know about you, but I always hit the pause button whenever I hear big business pitching a new gadget that purportedly teaches kids to be savvy spenders. Even when that company is as admired and innovative as Amazon.com.

So consider me skeptical about the Amazon “teen account” (www.amazon.com/forteens), which the online shopping giant recently launched just in time for the holiday season.

It’s aimed at 13- to 17-year-olds, allowing them to create their own account through the Amazon app to shop and stream content. Your teen’s account is linked to your Amazon account, with payment methods and shipping information of your choosing. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, those benefits roll over to the teen account.

In a nutshell, the product presents another approach for kids to skip the shopping mall experience in favor of the online route.

Judging from some of the online reaction from parents, that’s a concern. Here is what a few of them said:

“This has to be one of the worst ideas Amazon has come up with.”

“Will this convey the value of money to children? Try self-restraint.”

“Amazon wants to turn our kids into shop-bots with no social involvement.”

Here’s one of my concerns: parental supervision over their teenage Amazon shoppers. There are holes.

While there are some built-in safeguards, make no mistake, teens have plenty of freedom to shop and place orders under their own log-in and password. And that’s plenty reason to worry when you consider that many parents are hardly good role models for their kids when it comes to discerning shopping wants from needs.

Here’s how the Amazon account works:

When a teen finds something they want to buy, the shopper places the order on the Amazon app and the parent receives a text or email showing the item, cost, shipping address and payment information. Teens can also include a personalized note, such as “Hey, Mom, this is the soccer ball I need.”

While parents have the ability to approve or reject the purchase, they only have 30 minutes to do so. However, items can be returned by parents based on Amazon’s policy.

But understand that parents can also opt out of the approval process altogether by setting pre-approved spending limits per order, offering a “customized level of autonomy that can change and grow as (your kids) do,” Amazon said in a news release.

Amazon has a long history of creating innovative shopping tools, and it is one among many tech companies that have included family spending features on online shopping tools.

“Brick and mortar stores have seen sales among teenagers plummet,” said Winnie Sun, managing director and financial planner with Sun Group Wealth Partners in Irvine, Calif. Thus, “sucking up those young customers is a natural move” for Amazon and other brands.

An Amazon spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment for this column. However, Michael Carr, vice president of Amazon Households, recently told the Wall Street Journal that the teen account is all about “empowering parents” to manage their kids’ shopping and spending.

Is the teen account more about empowering Amazon’s bottom line, now and in the future?

“Let’s be clear,” said Susan Beacham, author of the “O.M.G. Official Money Guide for Teens.” “Think credit cards. Think brand loyalty. This is a marketing strategy for Amazon’s benefit, not your teens.”

According to various surveys, the majority of teens prefer shopping in stores. “Abstract concepts are still a challenge for most people until your early 20s,” Beacham said. “Touching and feeling and comparing live is a more age-appropriate way to shop for teens aged 13 to 17.”

Nevertheless, shopping from the comfort of your kitchen table is obviously here to stay. So what can a parent do? Recognize that if you agree to an online account through Amazon or any other retailer, you need to talk to your kids about the importance of making choices, exercising self-control, delaying gratification and stopping to think before clicking on the “purchase now” button. And remember, you have the right to say no if your kids don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

As I’ve often said, you wouldn’t hand over the keys to the car to your teen without some driver education. Don’t hand over the keys to a shopping account without helping them learn how to manage their financial independence.

(Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an email to sbrosen1030@gmail.com.)

Ask Kim: Military service members face big pension decision in 2018

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

Many members of the military will have to make a big decision in 2018: whether to stay with the military’s longtime retirement program or move to a new system that combines features of a pension with a retirement savings plan.

The current military retirement system provides a generous lifetime pension, starting at 50 percent of your base pay, if you stay in the service for 20 years. But if you leave before 20 years, you get nothing — and about eight out of 10 service members don’t stay long enough to collect a pension, says Joshua Andrews, USAA’s advice director for military life.

The new “blended retirement system” reduces the pension payouts to 40 percent of your base pay if you stay for 20 years (or 60 percent if you stay for 30 years), but you’ll also get an automatic contribution of 1 percent of base pay to the Thrift Savings Plan after 60 days of service. You’ll receive matching contributions for the next 4 percent of your pay, which are yours to keep after two years. (People who joined the military before 2018 can keep the matching contributions right away without waiting for two years.) The matching contributions continue for up to 26 years of service.

Everyone who joins the military in 2018 or later will be enrolled in the new system. If you joined the military from 2006 through 2017, you have from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, to opt in to the new plan. If you don’t do anything, you’ll remain in the old plan.

If you don’t plan to stay in the military for 20 years, you’ll come out ahead with the new system. If you think you may stay that long, compare payouts under the old and new system, and calculate how much you’d need to save in the Thrift Savings Plan to make up the difference. Be realistic about the chances that you’ll actually stay for 20 years, says Andrews. The calculators at www.usaa.com/brs and http://militarypay.defense.gov/blendedretirement can help.

If you pick the blended retirement system, plan to contribute at least 5 percent of your pay each year to the Thrift Savings Plan, so you can get the maximum match. “Otherwise, you’re leaving free money on the table,” says Andrews. You can always contribute more than that to your Thrift Savings Plan to build up additional retirement savings. “USAA recommends putting at least 10 percent of your basic pay into your TSP,” he says.

(Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

Family finances: Get help navigating the medical system

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

A growing number of patient advocates — also known as care managers or patient navigators — can help you untangle medical bills or insurance coverage snags or assist with care-related questions, such as helping you decide whether to have heart surgery in your hometown or at a specialty hospital in another state. They are often doctors or nurses, or they may be former employees of insurance companies, doctor’s offices, hospitals or other care facilities. That gives them an insider’s understanding of how the system works and how to sort out medical snafus.

Patient advocates don’t provide medical care or make treatment decisions, says Trisha Torrey, executive director of AdvoConnection Directory, a database of independent patient advocates. Rather, they help patients make informed decisions. “Patients often don’t know what questions to ask,” says Torrey. “The advocates do.”

Many Americans already have access to these services through an employee benefits program. Health Advocate Solutions, for instance, works with 11,500 large companies and institutions worldwide, offering advocacy services to 12.5 million employees and their families.

If your employer doesn’t offer a benefit like this, you’ll likely have to pay out of pocket for an independent advocate. Such professionals typically charge between $75 and $450 an hour, depending on the type of service required and your location, says Torrey. Some advocates who focus solely on billing issues charge a commission on the amount of money they save you instead of an hourly rate (or, in some instances, on top of an hourly fee). Abbie Leibowitz, a founder of Health Advocate Solutions, says the average case at his firm takes roughly two hours, spread over days or weeks.

The nonprofit Patient Advocate Foundation offers its services free. “We help patients with their entire case,” says outreach director Caitlin Donovan. Although the group deals mostly with lower-income households, anyone can call for help.

One caveat: Patient advocates aren’t licensed, credentialed or regulated in any state. A group called the Patient Advocate Certification Board is developing certification criteria and an exam, which may launch in early 2018. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about hiring an advocate, ask your primary-care doctor for a referral, says Linda Adler, a patient advocate in San Mateo, Calif. Then interview the advocate. Ask for personal references, says Leibowitz. Find out what kinds of cases the advocate is used to handling to see whether he or she has experience with cases like yours. And if the advocate tries to sell you something, adds Leibowitz, find another candidate.

(Nellie S. Huang is a senior associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

Retirement: What you need to handle mom and dad’s finances

Posted: 03 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

Taking charge of your parents’ finances will be much easier if they have signed a durable power of attorney, which can give you broad powers or spell out specific actions you’re allowed to take, such as paying bills, selling assets and gaining online access to accounts. If you don’t have this document and a parent becomes incapacitated, you will have to go to court to be appointed the guardian or conservator — a process that can take a month or longer and require you to make annual accountings to the court.

Some parents set up a revocable trust, naming themselves as the trustee and the trust as owner of their assets. Among the benefits: A child named as successor trustee can then smoothly transition into managing those assets. Even with this, you will still need a power of attorney to handle assets and financial matters that fall outside the trust, says Leslie Thompson, managing principal at Spectrum Management Group, in Indianapolis.

Many states either require banks and brokerages to honor valid powers of attorney or relieve institutions of liability when they accept the documents. But even in those states, elder lawyers say, it’s not uncommon for financial institutions, particularly large ones, to insist that a family use their power of attorney form.

Banks and financial institutions are wary of the growing number of cases of fraud against seniors — many of them perpetrated by family. “From the bank’s perspective, suddenly they have people they have never met announcing themselves as the new fiduciary, often without the actual customer with them,” says Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “If they show up with a durable power of attorney, they can wipe out a person’s account instantly.”

The simplest solution is for you and your parents to visit the financial institutions your parents deal with and see if they will accept your power of attorney or require you to sign theirs. This way, you won’t run into surprises later, and it allows you to establish a relationship with the bank or brokerage.

In fact, it’s a good idea for your parents to introduce you to all the professionals in their lives, including their accountant, lawyer, financial adviser and bank representative, who can be part of your team that manages your parents’ affairs. Shon Anderson, a certified financial planner in Dayton, Ohio, encourages adult children of his clients to sit in on a financial planning review so they can get a good picture of their parents’ finances from a third party.

(Eileen Ambrose and Sandra Block are senior editors at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)