Don't be controlled from the grave. Several months after my client Jane's husband died, she felt nervous about her investments because her late spouse, a retired medical doctor, had enjoyed "playing the stock market daily."
He had spent most of his days researching different companies and also happened to be lucky with his purchases. "Now I'm a nervous wreck with nobody paying attention to that brokerage account since Fred's gone," Jane said. "I never was interested in all that stuff before. I don't even know what he bought or sold. What if there's another market crash?"
Like many widows, Jane needed to feel financially safe. She wanted to spend time with her grandchildren and pursue her other interests, not worry about her investments.
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At Jane's request, I reviewed her portfolio. As suspected, the retirement account she inherited from Fred held a high percentage of very volatile Asian stocks. I agreed that these were not appropriate for a widow in her mid 70s who was not interested in "playing the market." She quickly agreed to reallocate her money into a diversified and balanced portfolio of funds.
But when it was time to sell her husband's prior investments, Jane froze. "I just can't do it," she said. "It's like I'm slapping Fred in the face, telling him his decisions were wrong." She felt disloyal in wanting to exchange his volatile stocks for more conservative investments. Yes, Jane understood why she needed to make changes, but emotionally, it was as if Fred controlled his wife from the grave.