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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Congressional Budget Office paper says don’t buy annuities

A working paper recently published by Felix Reichling of the Congressional Budget Office and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School concludes that most people should not buy annuities. This is a controversial finding bound to spark significant debate within the financial services community.

The annuity model is simple: You give up a portion of your savings to an insurance company in exchange for a guaranteed stream of payments for the remainder of your life. Gil Weinreich, editor-in-chief of ThinkAdvisor, an online and print publication family for financial advisers, interviewed Smetters to find out why he believes that’s not a good idea. He quoted Smetters as stating, “The average American should probably not annuitize any of their wealth.”

Smetters explained that it is in fact uninsured health-care shocks – the most common being disability while working or the need for long-term care while retired – that impact the usefulness of annuities more than anything else.

Here’s the logic: Suppose that you are retired and develop a medical condition requiring long-term care, for which you are not insured. If you had previously purchased an annuity, it would not be much help, because you now have the need for a lot more income than the annuity had been designed to produce. You could sell your annuity – there is a secondary market for this – but because of your medical condition, your expected longevity is reduced. As a result, the amount of cash you can get for the annuity will be lower, because its value is based on the expectation of its future cash flows. That’s just the opposite of what you need during such a situation.

Smetters went so far as to recommend that younger people actually “short” annuities.

“You can get a negative annuity by buying life insurance,” he said. “It is well known … that whereas an annuity pays me for living, life insurance pays me for dying. What happens when I get sick is that my life insurance increases in value. You can cash that out and get protection against uninsured expenses.”

Is there anyone who would benefit from an annuity? According to Smetters, “those who should buy annuities have already incurred health costs or are quite elderly.” Insurance companies can afford to offer such people annuities with larger monthly or yearly payments because there’s a higher likelihood they’ll die sooner.

Most advisers think of annuities as low-risk investments. But as Smetters pointed out, they are actually higher risk because they fail at exactly the times you need them the most: during health-care crises. The better alternative, he said, is long-term care insurance for older people and disability insurance for younger people.

I believe that annuities – particularly single-premium immediate annuities – can be a valuable part of a well-diversified investment portfolio. But Smetters and Reichling suggest that they should be used sparingly until you reach an age where the payments become significant.

To read the CBO working paper, visit cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44374_MortalityProbabilities-Reichling_2_0.pdf.

Artie Green, a Los Altos resident, is a Certified Financial Planner and professional investment adviser. For more information, call (408) 747-1222.

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