As a recent widow or widower, the process of finding the right financial advisor is often discouraging and frustrating. In fact, over 70% of widows change the financial advisor originally picked by their husband. Many of these advisors had a working relationship with the husband, but never took time to acknowledge the wife’s concerns. Go figure…
Some surviving spouses, not wanting to get involved or simply lacking interest, may have completely relied on their husbands to manage their investments and personal finances.
Whether you did or didn’t rely on your husband or partner to manage your finances, they are now your responsibility. You can either try to manage your finances solo, or like many widows, you can find a financial advisor who will work with you to manage your finances.
Over a million people across the U.S. call themselves financial advisors, but not all are created equal. Picking the wheat from the chaff is tricky. Everyone appears to be a financial advisor or financial planner, including brokers, insurance agents, even accountants and attorneys.
Some advisors have college degrees or professional certifications while others have securities licenses or titles on their business card such as “1st Vice President of Investments”. Some advisors charge commissions, a few charge fees (Fee-Only), and the remaining vast majority can charge both commissions and fees (Fee-Based). Some only manage investments while others provide comprehensive financial planning. Some advisors are always fiduciaries, a person who is legally required to look out for your best interest, while others are only part time fiduciaries. How does one even begin to make sense of all of this? Really…. it’s very difficult.
Over the past 20 years in the financial services industry, I’ve heard many stories of widows being told by their neighbor, coworker, brother-in-law or even the funeral director, which financial advisor they should call. The problem is these people, with good intentions, don’t know what they don’t know. If your brother-in-law has an advisor who only manages his investments, which are all profitable at the time, everything will seem great. He is going to think his advisor is really good, but he’s basing his opinion on his own experience, which is probably very different from yours, especially if you just lost your spouse. For your unique situation, what you need is a professional, planning-oriented financial advisor. And the easiest way you can find the right advisor for you is to use the Financial Advisor Evaluation and Selection Tool™.
The free Financial Advisor Evaluation and Selection Tool™, exclusively available on this website, provides you with the right questions to ask. It also gives you the answers to those questions so someone won’t be able to pull a fast one on you. The tool covers critical areas like fiduciary duty, professional qualifications, assumptions used in your financial plan, what documents are important to collect and review, and more.
For example, which one of your documents do you think is really important? Of course, all of your documents provide information to your advisor, but the single document I’ve found most helpful is your tax return! Without your tax return, the advisor has no way to determine which investments are better for you, what opportunities exist to avoid future taxes, and if any time-sensitive strategies might go away at the end of this year or next. If your advisor isn’t asking for your tax return or doesn’t know how to properly review it for opportunities, you should probably look for a better qualified advisor! This is just one valuable tip from the Financial Advisor Evaluation and Selection Tool™. with many more included. You really can’t afford to risk your financial future by using the wrong advisor.
The Financial Advisor Evaluation and Selection Tool™ comes with two versions; the full version for when you want to go deep into the advisor evaluation process, and the abbreviated version, which helps you work through a basic evaluation to narrow down your choices from many to few. After you narrow down your choices, you can use the full version to evaluate your remaining candidates. Both versions of the tool are included in the free download below.
Hundreds of your fellow widows and widowers have already benefited by downloading this checklist and other valuable documents from our site.
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Additional Financial Planning Tools for the Recently Widowed
New Widow’s Complete Checklist
A comprehensive step-by-step checklist covering vital financial, tax and legal issues during your first year as a new widow
Widowed Community Financial Planning Blog
Financial Planning Knowledge, Wisdom and Know-How for High Net Worth Widows and Widowers
WC Wealth Reminders™
Timely reminders to help you manage important tax, legal and financial tasks as well as protect and maintain your home and vehicles