I was reminded last week, at a client’s memorial service, of the good efforts demonstrated by husbands taking care of their wives. During the past three years it was quite the opposite. You see, the spouse served as her husband’s primary caregiver. Over the years she was able to reach out for financial guidance in consolidating bank accounts, making calls to long-term care providers, and even consulting with attorneys about the potential financial hardships of ongoing care. It was a difficult road but one that was made easier by having shoulders to lean on and hands to help.
This situation brought to mind another client who is marking the one-year anniversary of her husband’s sudden death this April. About four years ago, I began working with her husband, who made it very clear his goal was to make sure his wife was in good hands should something happen to him. We spent several years consolidating assets, getting a new CPA on board to assist with foreign assets, selling rental properties, and above all getting a plan in place so that all the loose ends would be tied up for their retirement. During the downturn of 2007-2009, I remember speaking to him about their accounts. I thought he would be distraught over declining balances, but he kept reassuring me that he was very happy to have a plan in place to look after his wife in the event something happened to him. That memory made a lasting impression with me. I was happy we were meeting his needs.
The very next spring, I got an unexpected call from his wife telling me that after a routine surgical procedure her husband had suddenly died. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe his prophecy was coming true in such a profound way. Things went very smoothly for her during the next year. The plans we worked so hard to put in place helped her through this very difficult time. I, of course, realize that the value of working with a financial professional goes well beyond investment performance. The satisfying and important need for husbands to take care of their wives often reveals itself in the most astonishing ways.