Getting Your House in Order: A Consultation Service for Widows and Divorcees

A 56 year old woman, Elizabeth Brownell, was referred to Relative Solutions by her family lawyer shortly after the sudden death of her husband, Arnold, to whom she had been married for more than thirty years. Throughout their marriage, her husband had managed the family business, family finances, and the establishment of a small family foundation. Although Elizabeth was a college graduate and had been interested in learning about Arnold’s decisions after he made them, her main interests in life had been raising their four children, spending time with their six little grandchildren, and working in a ceramics studio where she created beautiful bowls and pots.

With Arnold’s sudden death, Elizabeth became the sole beneficiary of his estate. He had set up a trust that would be dispersed to their children at the time of Elizabeth’s death, but Elizabeth was responsible for all family business and financial decisions for the rest of her lifetime. She was shocked, grieving, overwhelmed by the complexity of tasks that confronted her, and unable to make decisions about them.

Relative Soultions’ Direction
In collaboration with Arnold’s accountant and estate planning lawyer, Relative Solutions consultants met first with Elizabeth, and then with her and her adult children. As part of our “Widows Service” we were able to help Elizabeth through her initial shock, and then create a plan for supporting her development of competence and confidence in finance and business. Her intelligence and sense of responsibility to her husband’s legacy helped Elizabeth rise to meet the challenges of her situation. We provided support, mentoring, and on-going coaching for her throughout this process.