What is the best way for my 87 year old mother to invest her money?

Grammy asked...

My 87 year old mother just sold her home and has some money to invest. Where would you suggest we put it so that she has fairly good access to it in case of an emergency, but that she would get something more that the 1% savings accounts are giving?

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

The higher the return, the more the risk with any investment. However, with any investment, what you make is not nearly important as what you get to keep.

Keeping these ideas in mind, I would recommend that your mother look at a money market or mutual fund that invests in U.S. Treasury notes and bills for investment purposes. Her return will be better than what she would receive with a savings account, plus they will give her a safe return with liquidity and easy access. She should look for a mutual fund or money market account with low fees.

It's important to be on the lookout for fees, because they can eat into your earnings. Investments like U.S. Treasury notes and bills are particularly appealing because the fees involved in purchasing them are low -- so more of your money works for you. In addition, Treasury notes and bills can be sold at any time so your mother will have easy access to your money if she needs it. Many older people need to be concerned with how easily will they be able to access their investment and cash it in if they need the money.  For this reason, investments like annuities that carry long surrender penalties aren't appropriate investments for older people.