There has been a tremendous amount of loss in our world recently. In one way or another, the pandemic and resulting economic downturn have affected all of us.
You may have lost a loved one, a job, your sense of financial security or maybe even your idea of freedom.
When significant changes or losses happen suddenly and in such an unexpected way, it can feel completely overwhelming. It’s a lot to process, especially at a time when there’s so much uncertainty about what lies ahead.
When faced with uncertainty, fear often creeps in. Stress and confusion can quickly follow suit. When we’re in this state of mind, it can be difficult to navigate or make any major financial decisions.
But you don’t have to go at it alone: This is when financial advisors can provide guidance and support.
Dealing with the loss of financial security
If you are concerned with your financial security, now is the time to review your financial plan with your advisor to make sure you’re still on track to reach your goals.
While many things in life are out of our control (e.g., the economy, market fluctuations, etc.), there are certain details you can adjust in your plan that can help get you headed in the direction you wish to go. These details may include things like your retirement strategy, risk management, and cash flow (e.g., saving and spending).
Knowing what you can do to make the most impact on your financial plan can get you back on track faster than you may realize. As advisors, our job is to give you clarity, confidence and control around your money.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one
One challenging aspect of losing someone is finding the time and space to work through your grief. This becomes even more difficult if you’re the one who has to take care of their estate (e.g. as the trustee or executor).
This is a time when you may want to turn to your trusted team of advisors and let them guide you through the process, which may include the following steps:
- Locating any legal documents available such as a trust, will, or health care directive. Most financial institutions require an original death certificate and cannot hold a discussion unless you have it on hand, so it’s a good idea to request several copies.
- Scheduling a meeting with your family’s wealth advisor to get a list of all known assets. This is where you may want to gather any financial statements and compare them with the advisor’s list to make sure nothing is missed.
- Paying attention to the advisor’s responsiveness and methods of reviewing the information. It is important that you feel comfortable asking questions and that you fully understand all explanations.
Many people work hard to build and maintain assets so they could financially support themselves and leave behind a legacy for those they care deeply about. If you are a trustee or executor, it’s important to respect the legacy built by your loved ones and work with professional advisors who have experience helping people successfully navigate through uncharted waters.
If your loved ones are still with you, think about setting some time aside to have a conversation about what their intentions are should something unexpected occur. For example, have they created a wealth transfer strategy? Is there a trust in place stating specifically what they would like their legacy to do upon their passing?
You may also consider asking if you’re welcome to sit in on their next appointment with their trusted advisors – even if it has to be conducted online via video conferencing. Advisors can be great at facilitating these difficult conversations.
Dealing with a job loss
If you have lost a job, this is also a time you want to stay connected with your advisor and your team of professionals. It’s imperative to assess how this situation may affect your financial plan in the short term as well as in the future.
For example, do you have stock options, restricted stock units, an employee stock purchase plan, or a 401(k)?
Before making any big decisions about what you might want to do with your assets, it’s a good idea to consult with your advisor and tax professional. You want to fully understand the financial implications of any actions you may be considering.
Cashing out or withdrawing money from these assets often comes with complex tax considerations, which your tax advisor can help guide you through.
Here are some more questions you may want to think about: Are you able to take some time to regroup and focus on family? Have you reached a point in your life where you can think about retiring? Or must you determine your next steps right away?
Getting a fresh perspective from your team of advisors – people who understand what is important to you – can help you feel more confident about the decisions you want to make for the next phase of your life.
The bottom line
If you’re unsure about your next steps, know that you can lean on our experience as we work together to navigate through these difficult times.