As I mentioned in my Part-1 blog  on this difficult topic several days ago; I had heard from a woman whose husband was just diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Her question to me: “What should a woman do before her husband dies”?

Her question caused me to recall the agony my mother and I went through when my father became ill, forcing us to make difficult decisions and plans at an already difficult time.

In Part-1, I outlined steps 1 through 3.  Here I’ll finish the series, with steps 4 through 6:

4.       We envisioned a future without Dad.  My mom started thinking about living single: how much money she’d need to live on (a lot…  she wasn’t going to work nor did she have to, but she did like to spend), how she wanted her money invested (very conservatively), and who would assist her with this.  The whole family helped her find an investment advisor (we interviewed 3).  She also hired a CPA – after a while, it became clear he wasn’t a good fit, so she recently hired someone else.  She meets with her “team” on a regular basis to this day.

5.       We had  regular family meetings. These meetings, though often emotional, were absolutely wonderful in getting everyone on the same page while Dad was still alive.  Meetings included my sisters, spouses, and all the grandchildren (we eventually had great grandkids crawling around too).  My Dad let everyone know what his wishes were, especially for philanthropy, and enrolled the whole family to the board of his foundation.  These meetings drew us closer in many ways.

6.       Mom talked to friends.   She’d had several friends who lost their husband’s, so she talked to them at length. They gave her great advice which really helped her see life goes on, happily so.

Having done these things, by the time my father died, all my mother had to do was grieve.  Every detail was in order.  There were no surprises.  All papers signed.  All major decisions made.  Her team was in place.  Practically speaking, his passing was seamless.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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