Navigating the Financial Aftermath: A Personal Journey Through Loss and Legacy

Introduction to Our Personal Loss

In early December, my family experienced the loss of my stepfather, Stuart. Stuart was an incredible man who will be sorely missed. Professionally, he was a very successful dentist who established a great reputation in his industry and community. Personally, his number one priority was his family—and primarily my mom. He was hyper-focused on making sure she was financially taken care of both during his lifetime, and to him, more importantly, after he was gone.

Streamlining Finances: A Joint Effort

He spent a lifetime saving as much as he could and decades of accumulating various life insurance policies from the ADA or other life agents he had known throughout the years. As I entered the business, I helped him streamline his finances and consolidate some of his accounts. All that said, what I became aware of after his death was just how overwhelming and cumbersome the process of gathering financial accounts and information is for a grieving widow—and that was with me being in this business and having access to almost all his financial world. The process was still very cumbersome for my mom.

Understanding the Maze of Bank Accounts, Investments, and Liabilities

After a certain point, most people’s finances look like an attic of a home that has been lived in for years. It’s a collection of bank accounts, investment accounts both retirement (401k, IRA, Roth IRA) and non-retirement (investment accounts, bonds, CD’s…), and life insurance policies bought over the years. There are typically credit cards in both partners’ names, potential business interests, auto loans, and various other assets and liabilities the surviving spouse may not be privy to.

Easing the Burden: The Importance of Professional Financial Assistance During Bereavement

My mom was fortunate enough to have a financial professional to help with this, but that is not the case with most families; and the process of moving assets to the survivors’ names, dealing with the various financial institutions, filing death claims for insurance, and probating the estate can be a full-time job all while you are meant to be grieving your loss. In addition, bills still need to be paid. If the surviving spouse was not as involved with that, the process can be arduous. Trying to figure out the online account info, moving the utilities to your name, and basically just keeping your finances on track.

The Power of Inclusive Financial Planning: Creating A Unified Approach to Family Finances

I always knew how important having a financial plan that involves both spouses are, but it became clearer than ever to me over the last month. Having a family meeting while everyone is in good health mentally and physically is a step that should be taken to get everyone on the same page before things turn south. A good financial advisor should help facilitate this meeting to make sure intentions are clear, helping to guide the family through the process when that tragic day finally occurs.

Proactive Steps for a Secure Financial Future: Family Meetings and Advisor Facilitation

Our team at FRS Advisors offers a comprehensive range of resources and strategies designed to support families in developing, documenting, and executing a robust financial plan. This plan is crucial both for the present and for the future, especially in the event of the loss of a spouse.

At FRS, we are committed to guiding you through every step, ensuring you avoid common pitfalls and unforeseen challenges during life’s most significant events. To begin crafting a tailored financial plan that secures your family’s future, we invite you to schedule a call with our office (610) 354-0288. Our experts are ready to assist you in navigating these essential financial decisions with ease and confidence.

By: Robert Clements, Partner

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