I recently made a condolence call to the wife of one of my clients.
Her house was full of friends and family who were doing their best to help the grieving widow. Some brought food, others flowers while the children sat nearby to comfort their mother. It was a normal scene under these circumstances… it is the scene of real life and how the death of a loved one just plays out all the time.
One week later, a different scene began to unfold: she was now alone, everyone had gone back to their normal lives, but her life was far from normal. Her partner was now gone. The house seemed unnaturally quiet, and then the confusion.
She called me and with a choked voice, said she needed help. Mail had piled up with notices from the brokerage her husband used, bank statements and inquiries from credit card companies, and a letter from an insurance company who mentioned a policy she did not know her husband owned.
Medicare, social security, pension and retirement plans… all mail now sitting on a desk which she says she just cannot open.
We have been told that there are several stages of grief, but what I have seen in my experience, is that confusion should be added to that list… and this needs to be addressed.
I set up a meeting with my client’s widow and had her review with me all the mail that had piled up. I reviewed her husband’s will, looked at the insurance policies, and bank statements, the retirement accounts and the tax returns, and all new bills and credit card statements.
I prepared a list for her: what needs to be done first, who needs to be called, what banks and brokerages to contact. If she wants to make these calls, fine, or does she want me to act for her and make these contacts? A review of her husband’s will set up priorities, and then I prepared a binder for her with instructions and “follow ups”.
After a few meetings I could see her demeanor change… she could see some daylight through this difficult time. She now had a “roadmap” as to how to proceed; she had a binder of instructions which she could refer to… and someone she could call to ask the questions that invariably come up.
My “new” client has a long road in front of her. The stages of grief, dealing with a different life now, but the confusion that seemed to paralyse her has given way to an orderly method she can follow.
Take it for what it is… it’s just as I see it.
To find out more how we can help someone who is suddenly solo: https://www.legalbaer.com/services/suddenly-solo/