A debut guide offers advice on navigating the financial complications that arise in the wake of a loved one’s death.
In her slender and powerful book, Luzzatto, an experienced financial planner, describes warily recovering from the shock of her husband’s successful leukemia treatments and planning a vacation and house renovations. Suddenly, her husband’s cancer returned more aggressively, and before she could really take her bearings, he died. In addition to the tragedy, Luzzatto was suddenly confronted with a host of financial decisions at a time when she least wanted to deal with them. Hence, this book. In clear and concise language, the author takes some of the key concepts of this kind of financial chaos and explains them with exactly the kind of calm, reassuring confidence readers in crisis will find most helpful. Luzzatto clarifies thing like the various kinds of power of attorney, the nature of an executor’s responsibilities, and what a beneficiary is. These and other subjects can be formidably complicated, but throughout the book, the author urges her readers to take things slow and parcel them into small, nonthreatening bits. Make a to-do list, block out time, take small steps, and so on, all marshaled for the task of examining bank statements, searching databases for unclaimed assets, and locating electronic accounts. She urges her readers to reach out to professional advisers whenever possible, and not to feel guilty about shifting some of the “grunt work” to people who aren’t traumatized by grief. Luzzatto takes readers inside the world of a financial adviser, fleshing out the human aspects of people facing surprising monetary problems or the unexpected emotions of a windfall. This personal element appears with wonderful consistency throughout the volume. “After trauma, we never really go back,” she writes, “but we establish how we’re going to live again.” This undercurrent of simple compassion transforms what would in any case have been a thoroughly useful guide into something more.
A heartfelt and invaluable manual on the settling of a loved one’s estate.