No. of Recommendations: 0
....She is in her late 70's. Her risk tolerance is not too high. She was worried when all her portfolios went down in the last year. The money she would be managing is 19% of the money she lives off of.....

You need to check on how much is in stocks and how much is in bonds right now. The (questionable) rule of thumb is that the stock percentage should be 100 minus her age, so a bit more that 20% in stocks for her would be the generic answer. There could very well be compelling reasons to have greatly different allocations but she has a high percentage of stock for no clear reason then that could be the problem.

...It might be better to continue to pay the bank to manage her money? The funds they have her in are not so great. The funds have average to above average fees...

If it has been invested for a long time in the same thing then the money might be mostly capital gains that will be taxed when it is sold. If she moves the money around and generates $400K in capital gains then she could owe $60K in capital gains tax, maybe more next year if the rates go up. It could take a long time to save enough in fees to make paying that $60K now worthwhile. Of course if they are real dogs, then it could be easy to justify paying the taxes. The important thing is that you need to know the tax impact so you can decide if it is worth the tax cost.

I’m not sure how the trust would affect this but an additional factor is that in a regular account if she keeps it and it goes to her estate someday then the capital gains may never be taxed and her kids(or whoever) could sell the stocks without having to pay the capital gains tax.

...I suppose ten funds may be too many. I'm not sure what funds to take out. I read that foreign bonds, emerging market funds, commodity and real estate funds were good diversification for today's changing economy....

There isn’t any magic number but for each fund you should be able to write down why your are buying it (not just to make money!) and why it is different than the other investments. The big question is will she be able to handle it in ten years if you are not around. Putting the majority of the money in something like the Vanguard Target Retirment Income Fund would cover a lot of diversification;

For example if she put 80% of the money into that fund, then 10% could be put into two other funds to give a bit more diversification if she wanted and had a good reason select those funds. This would just be three mutual funds and a cash account. It is very likely that if the dividends are put into the cash account then she would rarely need to sell any of the mutual funds. In ten years if you are not around then even if the money was never rebalanced, the asset allocation would likely never get too far out of whack.

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