As a 53-year-old widow, I relied on a financial adviser my husband and I had known for many years to invest my money. After six months, he said I could retire. I was happy to do that, as I hated my job. The investments seemed to be going well. He convinced me to take a mortgage on my home for the tax break. I trusted him and did it. A few years later he had me remortgage the home for $230,000 and pay off the $130,000 first mortgage and he invested the $100,000 balance. He said I’d get a reverse mortgage after age 65. Fast-forward eight years, he says they won’t give me a reverse mortgage, and I must sell my home. I’m 70 years old, running out of money and he says to move in with one of my children. Please advise seniors to question everyone who advises them. I had blind faith in this man and he didn’t do the right thing for me.

Nobody should ever have blind faith in a financial adviser.

It’s vital to understand both best and worst-case scenarios before you adopt an investment strategy. Always ask, “How could I lose money?”

You can’t avoid risk, but you can decide how much risk you’re willing to take. If your adviser says there is no risk, you need another adviser. Even the safest investments have a downside risk. (If a one-year FDIC-insured CD earns 1 percent, and inflation runs at 3 percent, for example, you’ll lose 2 percent.)

It sounds as if your adviser relied on a best-case scenario of ever-rising real estate values. He didn’t explain that if they fell, your equity in your house could be wiped out.

THE BOTTOM LINE Always ask about an investment strategy’s risks as well as its potential rewards.

WEBSITES WITH MORE INFORMATION

aarp.org/money/investing/info-08-2013/lessons-from-the-recession.html

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garrettplanningnetwork.com/about/how-to-choose-an-advisor