When a Client Loses a Spouse/Partner

May 11, 2017

Karen Altfest, Dr. Stanley Teitelbaum, and Martin Shenkman will present a practical, non-technical, webinar for professionals to help advisers enhance their skills for working with clients who recently lost a spouse/partner. The average age for widowhood is in the 50s! Finding their footing can be an overwhelming process for these clients. As an adviser, you endeavor to help the client address the issues within your technical purview (probate formalities, tax filings and the like), but recent widows and widowers need more. Advisers can better serve these clients by being prepared to address the wide range of “soft issues” these clients need help with. Recent widows and widowers confront difficult changes in their daily pattern of living. Financial worries, even for those who are financially secure, may be critical. Grieving surviving spouses/partners may make important decisions while they are emotionally distraught. These errors can jeopardize even an otherwise secure financial decision. Women as well as men may become unmoored by the personal changes they are going through. Historically, a widower may have been the primary earner and financial decision-maker and may be accustomed to making financial choices. However, in two-earner families, the loss of a wife’s earnings can be devastating for the widower. Because this has not been the historic norm, the struggling widower may suffer embarrassment and few outlets for help. Helping them cope is critical. For many widows, the historic norms remain common. The widow may not have taken an active role in the family finances and may be especially lost as to how to proceed. That confusion can create vulnerability. What help can you provide your client? How can you help the client’s advisory team coalesce around these new challenges to provide support? How can you guide clients that are being pressured by well-meaning relatives, and even advisers, to make unwise decisions, or to make changes before they are ready to do so?