Coping with Loss – Bereavement and Financial Planning

My very first Client, going back to the early 1970s, was a recently bereaved widow whose husband had attended to all financial matters throughout their married life; this lady had never written a cheque or paid a household bill, let alone invested money. Since then, and throughout my long career, I have worked with innumerable widows, and some widowers, in similar circumstances.

As a result of this experience, I have come to realise that coping with financial matters can be very much part of the grieving process. Within any long-term relationship we all become dependent upon our partner in some way or another and then wonder how we are going to cope when that partner is no longer there.

In recent years, psychologists and others have analysed the grieving process and there are some very good articles on the What’s Your Grief website. Whilst I am, by no means a Bereavement Counsellor, nor am I an expert on the grieving process, I am a good listener and, as I have said, I have years of experience. Also, if my help is insufficient, then I work with professionals whose services I can recommend.

The issues that arise and which add to the stress after a loss include:

• Finding the information necessary to sort out the partner’s affairs.
• Understanding the savings and investments previously made by the partner, either in joint names or in the name of the survivor.
• Knowing what to do with savings and investments that will be inherited.
• Worrying about any loss of income and whether the survivor will cope financially.
• Recognising the knowledge gap and worrying over how to manage the household finances in the future.

Of course, these or similar issues can arise following a relationship breakdown.

In addition to adhering to the code of conduct demanded of Advisers accredited by the Society of Later Life Advisers, I also comply with a strict internal “vulnerable client policy”, which recognises two key aspects:

• Timing. For some individuals outsourcing their financial planning needs quickly means there is one less thing to worry about. For others they need longer to take stock of their new circumstances and, consequently, want to defer longer-term decisions until the path ahead is clear. I have no personal agenda when working with my Clients and am content to work at whatever pace suits them.
• Support. A helping hand from a trusted friend or member of the family can often be very reassuring when dealing with complex financial matters at a time of stress; I very much welcome this type of involvement.

What next?

If you or someone you know has been bereaved or has suffered a relationship breakdown and help with financial matters is needed, please call me today or complete the form below.

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About Clive Barwell

Clive Barwell is one of the most experienced and qualified financial planners working in the later life market today, he specialises in advice and guidance for the over 55s. To ask Clive a question, please email him at info@clivebarwell.co.uk. Alternatively, you can follow Clive on Twitter, connect with Clive on LinkedIn or see Clive's profile on Google+.