Case Study #1

A few years ago, we got a call from Lisa. Her husband had tragically had a heart attack and passed away. They had just recently become clients. Ricky and Lisa were retired educators and were living comfortably off of their pensions and social security. Ricky had always handled the family’s finances and all the decisions with that “stuff”.

When she called, Lisa was scared and in shock. She reached out to us for guidance. She was the sole beneficiary of the estate and all of his assets. In addition, she was also the executor of the estate.

First we started with sending a copy of Ricky’s will to our estate planning attorney. He drafted the petition to probate the will and we went with Lisa down to the courthouse to probate the will. We helped Lisa complete all beneficiary paperwork for his IRA and his life insurance. It was during this process that we discovered that when Ricky had retired years ago he elected the “life only” pension. There was no survivor benefit to her! This meant that immediately Lisa’s income was going to be cut in half.

Lisa determined that she did not want to stay in the house, so with the help of a real estate agent, we helped Lisa find a house closer to her kids and grandkids. We then worked with Lisa to create a realistic budget and analyzed her remaining assets to see if they would be able to produce the income she needed since her husband’s pension was now gone.

Finally, by making some adjustments to her portfolio and changes to our investment strategy we were able to provide her with a higher probability of having enough income for her lifetime. It was much tighter than we had hoped and it was certainly not what she was used to or what they had “planned” for during their retirement. Nonetheless, it was her reality and one she could live with.

Lisa was a trooper during this process! Losing a spouse is difficult enough, unfortunately, it is also a time when one has to make some crucial financial decisions.