If you plan to do the research, you would be well served by having your daughter execute a power of attorney, which would give you the right to make the inquiries. In the absence of this, I don't think you'll find much information to forward to her.

You're going to have to go backwards into this and find out from the people who issued the check where those funds are, and work forward. First, get the power of attorney; second, write to the issuer of the check and explain it had not been negotiated seven years ago.

Proceed with your inquiries and see where they lead, and then you may have to get some information with regard to taxes from a competent accountant.

I am a 72-year-old man who recently was awarded $100,000 in a personal-liability suit. I have very little savings, about $50,000, but I do have $150,000 equity in my new townhouse and a monthly income of $3,500. This comes from Social Security and a government pension, plus $50,000 insurance.

Structured settlements are seldom in the recipient's favor. I would push for a lump-sum settlement, that way you can decide how the money is to be invested. As to your grown children, I'm delighted they have families, and most could benefit from financial help, but that money, in my view, should be kept for you and for you alone.

When the time comes, if there's anything left, your children will benefit. In the meantime, take the cash, invest it wisely and enjoy your life.

- Send your questions to: Smart Money, P.O. Box 503, Elfers, FL 34680. E-mail to: bruce@brucewilliams.com . Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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