07 Apr 2021
Losing Love and Finding Advocates
Rethinking Plans in a Time of Grief
By Laura J. LaTourette, CFP® (she/her/hers)
Few things are harder than losing a spouse or life partner. Often times, your entire world turns dark and appears upside-down, including the plans you thought you had for your future… together. You now have to reimagine and try to think about deeply personal decisions you established together, like who will take care of things at your end of life – who can you trust to be your personal administrator, trustee, power of attorney and carry out your healthcare wishes?
When you’re a member of our LGBTQ community in this situation, you face even more challenges. Your adult children and immediate family members might be estranged, you may have ongoing healthcare expenses, and your social network may be narrowing down. You need to find a trusted friend to help with important estate planning documentation.
Find Your Voice and Your Advocate
How do you get started?
In these times you need to be fully heard and understood. You need a mediator and an advocate, someone who knows all the pieces of your story. And often times, this important role is best filled by a non-family member to ensure an objective but compassionate approach.
One option is to find a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Professional who can relate to your personal situation and with whom you can build trust. Be confident that you can find a CFP® Professional who has listed in the membership directory and their client focus is working with the LBGTQ community. You need a professional partner with you, to serve your best interests, and be the mediator that you need to help you make complicated decisions during a deeply challenging time of loss.
Once you identify your advisor, you’ll want to build trust – and this takes commitment. One of my core beliefs is “remember we are mirrors and see each other fully when we talk from the heart.” This means I dig deep with each client and make sure we can build real trust, have important conversations, and show up in each other’s lives in authentic ways. So when it’s time to advocate for clients – or ask clients to stand up and advocate for me (being LGBTQ) – we are committed to our relationship.
Prepare to Make Personal Decisions and Redraft Documents
Estate planning starts with your answers to some basic questions, and you should be reviewing them regularly with your advisor. Examples of these questions are:
- What do I want my end-of-life care plan to look like?
- Who should make medical decisions if I become unable to do so?
- Who should take care of my finances if I become unable to do so?
- How do I want to distribute my assets?
These questions are always complicated, but addressing them during a time of loss when your head is cloudy adds an additional challenge, which is why working with a trusted advisor is so important. Take your time; move slowly through this process. You don’t have to make all the decisions today.
Ask your advisor to discuss your options now and help explain the consequences that are particular to your situation. Once you are comfortable with the process and have reviewed your current estate documents, it’s time to evaluate and ask if you need to get documents redrafted. Often times, the answer is yes. I am not an attorney and do not give clients legal advice; however, in my over 25 years of experience, I find some things hold true for most clients. The need for updated estate documents is important for many reasons:
- Financial institutions prefer a power of attorney document to be less than five years old in most cases to make sure the current wishes of the client are known.
- Clients can misplace estate documents, which becomes a problem for personal representatives who have to work through probate if the original will is unavailable.
- Elder fraud is a well-documented ongoing problem, so clarity is vital.
- Estate documents cannot be updated if the elder’s mental capacity is compromised.
- Life has changed. The loved one who you thought would be there for you is gone, and now you need to find a trusted friend to help you rethink important decisions.
Take the Next Step
Financial decisions after a personal tragedy are challenging. Remember that trusted professionals can help you make wise decisions during a time of grief.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through WCG Wealth Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor. WCG Wealth Advisors, LLC, The Wealth Consulting Group, and Family Wealth Management Group are separate entities from LPL Financial.
SAGE is not affiliated with Family Wealth Management Group or LPL Financial.