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We manage funds for a friend who had a stroke in 1998 - so we have some understanding of what your family may face in the event your mental capacity becomes an issue.

As I see it, you face three distinct issues.
#1 What your actual investments are
#2 Where those investments are held
#3 Who/how in addition to yourself might manage those in the future.

The third issue sounds simple until it actually need implementation. So deal with that issue now. If you want/need to change in the future fine, but if you develop debilitating condition you may not be able to make changes.

Given the Bernie Madoff deal, I strongly suggest keeping your funds in a mutual fund company -- i.e. Vanguard, Schwab, Price-Rowe, etc. That said I also can say each of the above named companies is different with regard to execution of naming somebody to manage your funds. Vanguard is just plain rigid - if their systems/forms don't happen to address your specific situation, tough. All these people have standard Power or Attorney Forms they prefer you to use. Those don't work well when the account holder has lost the ability to speak or write -- that is because after filling out forms the account owner may be called asked questions on the phone!

We happen to use Charles Schwab. They have multiple types of Power or Attorney -- i.e. what the Attorney in Fact can and cannot do. In addition, although it took a few weeks, Schwab was willing to examine a non-Schwab Power of Attorney document and ultimately grant my wife the authority to handle our friend's affairs.

At some mutual fund companies there is a charge for buying/selling mutual funds from a different company, for us this is not an issue. We have held many Vanguard funds in our Schwab accounts over the years. We have never held any Schwab funds, except for money market funds.

We do not have a brick and mortar bank account, so depositing checks can be a pain, but Schwab has an iPhone app that lets us take a picture of the check and deposit it into our cash account. We use an online system to transfer funds to/from our Schwab account and our Ally bank checking account. (It is necessary to call on the phone and mail in a blank check to set up the system, but after that either via our computer or the iPhone we can move funds.)

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