Help your clients prepare for the death of a spouse

By Brett Anderson

St. Croix Advisors

For many, the death of a spouse is unthinkable. This is the first person they see every morning and the last person they see before bed. They just couldn’t imagine life without him or her.

As you’ve heard me discuss over and over again, bad things can and do happen, but the most important thing is to be prepared. When it comes to planning for the unimaginable, most people don’t want to deal with it, because they don’t want to be confronted with their own mortality (or that of a loved one).

Last summer, I read the story¹ of Amanda Crow, a retired Naval officer, who was widowed at 26. She and her husband, Jeremy, were both looking forward to retirement from the Navy when he was killed. The article went on to detail how Amanda moved forward with a Plan B for her life, as she opened a PostNet franchise and became an entrepreneur. In April of this year, she was even looking at buying a second PostNet location, using crowdsource fundraising.²

Here’s a disabled veteran who had to move beyond difficult circumstances to continue living her life and realize her dreams. Not only did she have to adapt, transitioning from life in the armed forces back to civilian life, but she also had to cope with the death of her spouse and all the challenges of being a small business owner (not to mention a mother of two). What an inspiration!

To ensure that your clients' spouse is taken care of in the event of their passing, encourage them to sit down together and review their estate plans annually. Make sure they think beyond the initial expenses, such as care, funeral costs and debt payoff to future plans. The discussion should include what hopes and dreams each spouse wants out of life and how they might still come true even if the unthinkable occurs. After all, moving beyond the death of a spouse is all about maintaining quality of life. While it’s true that life won’t ever be the same without a spouse, there is still life to live.

¹ Daley, Jason. “Ship to Shore.” Entrepreneur. August 2011: 122
² Franchise Chatter. “Crowdfunding Pitch for Amanda Crow’s Second PostNet Location: “Keep Amanda Going, Keep America Going!” Franchise Chatter April 6, 2012. June 27, 2012