• Briefly Noted
  • From the Bookshelf

    Carl Richards gives insights on how to avoid common investing mistakes in “The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money” (Portfolio/Penguin, 2012). Using a combination of plain language and well-thought-out graphics, the financial planner and blogger highlights many behavioral errors.

    Richards’ graphics are at once very insightful and very simple—they look as though they were sketched on a white board with a black marker. For example, he has a chart that shows that as the number of forecasts increases, so does the chance of a single forecast being correct.

    This is a book that could easily come across as condescending; fortunately, it is anything but. Richards incorporates much of his own experiences, making this a personable read. He also intersperses advice in each chapter, guiding readers to focus on working toward their long-term goals rather than worrying about things that are beyond their control.

    “Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What to Do About It” (Collinwood Press, 2011) explains why estate planning and dealing with inheritance can turn into family feuds. Though greed is commonly thought as the primary reason, author P. Mark Accettura says there more complex factors at play.

    Accettura points to family relationships as the root cause for many disputes. Strained relationships between parents and their heirs, sibling rivalries, second marriages, perceived injustices and mental illnesses can all play a role. The author uses Brooke Astor as an example. Going into detail about her family history, her marriages and her son’s emotional issues, Accettura explains how a child’s upbringing turned into elder abuse.

    There is much more to this book than just what can go wrong with inheritance. The author discusses the history of estate law and gives some specific details. For instance, Louisiana law, which is based on Napoleonic code, is unique in its protections against disinheritance. Accettura also provides more than 60 suggestions on how to prevent fights over estate plans from breaking out.


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