ETF DeathWatch

I was appointed the finance correspondent for Senior Life Advisor, an online magazine for investors near or in retirement.  The articles for Senior Life Advisor were designed to offer actionable information as well as items of interest about economics, investing and personal finance.

So called exchange-traded funds (ETFs) represent an advanced form of mutual and index funds that confer several benefits which principally consist of lower costs and more efficient tax treatment.  

But one of the dirty secrets about ETFs is that they are known to expire, which means the ETF sponsors don’t get enough investors in the fund to make it profitable and shut it down.  This phenomena is so common that there are scores of “ETF Deathwatch” sites.  

If you are in a fund that gets shutdown, you will get your money back — that’s good — but it’s likely to be an untimely distribution that can provoke untimely tax consequences.  And you will have to find a new place to park your money.  

Protect yourself by selecting ETFs that have at least two years of operating history and at least $1 billion in assets.