I originally wrote Widow’s Key as a tool to unlock the mysteries of the legal system surrounding planning or settling an estate. But discovered that being a widow is so much more than just legal or financial matters, so the book covers other areas of life that confront a widow before, during and after a loved one dies. The human spirit and mind are equally important because the heart, mind, soul and body work together in synergy.
Current books for widows seem to focus on only one aspect of the life and death spectrum. Reference materials cover only the financial or the legal or the dying/grief or the spiritual part of planning or how to work through the loss of another. Generally, guides for widows contain too much legal or technical jargon, causing many a widow to throw up her hands and quit. Then she may turn everything over to well-meaning but ill-informed or self-serving family members. Even some professionals don’t ask enough about them personally, their family or their unique circumstances to be of the greatest help. Armed with adequate knowledge in advance, any widow can make legal and life decisions that are in her best interests and the best for her family.
I have found that even clients with complete will and trust estate plan packages do not really understand what they have in place or how to proceed when someone dies. At one of the most difficult and confusing times in their lives, all the responsibilities of settling an estate are thrown at the widow or the children. The widow stands alone, confronted with strange and complex legal and financial duties. When one just needs to time to grieve and get her balance back, the government, financial institutions, court system and relatives are demanding that she take care of business right away. Many widows try to do it by themselves and unwittingly make serious errors that cost time, taxes, money and hard feelings among family members. Everyone knows a widow, or is a widow, who needs a guiding book like Widow’s Key, so I wrote one.
Widow’s Key is definitely not intended to be a complete, do-it-yourself kit or part of a widowhood for dummies series. I firmly believe that professional advice and assistance is a key component in estate planning, estate administration, court systems, tax, investment, as well as the grieving and healing process. As a necessary disclaimer, right up front, I tell you not to sue the book as definitive legal advice or a substitute for professional legal, financial or psychological advice. No book or kit is a substitute for competent up-to-date advisors. Through their knowledge and experience, trusted professionals can help you avoid potentially dangerous areas of personal liability for mistakes in judgment, omissions, errors and timeliness. Only a licensed state lawyer or other professional who knows and understands the intricate facts of your particular case can do that. Instead, Widow’s Key is intended to assist you to learn what you can about the various topics and to think for yourself; so that you can work with your chosen professional advisors. Especially important is gaining a sense of knowledge and confidence that reinforces the belief that you deserve to be treated respectfully. Especially now.
My book is written as an in-depth introduction of the various areas related to widowhood, so that you can understand the multitude of terms, concepts topics, issues and options available to you. This guide addresses a majority of the significant pieces in dealing with end-of-life issues. It will help you identify your unique challenges, avoid some of the legal and tax pitfalls, and show you how to save time, frustration and minimize expenses in the process. The information contained in Widow’s Key should help you determine which preliminary problems or organization you can work through on your own and which ones require the assistance of an attorney or other professional services.
Widow’s Key is not the final word, nor can it cover every scenario, but the reader is provided with straight forward, concise added-value outlines, checklists, indexes, resources and articles with additional information. I will help you, coach you, guide you and be that compassionate sister you need during this most difficult time.