Advising clients in bereavement

  • List why there is a wellbeing gap among those aged above 60.
  • Describe the grant of probate process.
  • Identify how much a funeral costs and what you can do to help bereaved clients.
Advising clients in bereavement

We see it all too often. Your clients see you when they are fresh into retirement with the hope of many years ahead of them.

They are likely to have plans for holidays, spending time with the grandchildren – and, more importantly, giving them back – and finally having the quality time to do the things they have always wanted to do.

They invest for growth, income and to save tax, and they take your advice.

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You recommend they also take out wills and lasting powers of attorney (LPA).

Then, over the following years, they come back for reviews occasionally, although this dwindles away as their health deteriorates and things slow down.

Unfortunately, and all too often, many of these customers will have made their initial investments and then dropped off the radar quite quickly, not wanting to trouble anyone for further advice.

It is likely that they would then not review their finances again, including their wills, if indeed they followed your advice and took one out, and this would also include any advice for the LPA.

They have made whatever plans are necessary for ensuing health problems and inheritance, be that equity release, retirement homes, gifting and so on.

And as they age, their risk profiles may reduce to a point where they might be more comfortable with cash-based investments.

So they drop down the priority order in your client banks – but that could be doing your clients a disservice.

Understanding the wellbeing gap

According to Age UK’s Wellbeing Index, the average wellbeing score for people above the age of 60 in the UK is 53.2 per cent - presenting us with a wellbeing gap.

The factors the Index is measured against are personal wellbeing, social wellbeing, health, resources and local factors, such as leisure and medical facilities.

Unsurprisingly, the wellbeing of this age group deteriorates with age.

But the report is well worth your time to help understand what this generation goes through.

According to research by Co-op Legal Services, 85 per cent of adults have not set up an LPA, and according to Royal London, 54 per cent of UK adults do not have a will.

Even if your clients did make a will or set up an LPA when they first retired, circumstances may well have changed in the following years, and that is certainly true when your clients have to deal with bereavement.

Dealing with bereavement

With all of the advice on offer from legal and financial services professionals, the current will and LPA statistics remain worrying.

There is a high likelihood that the first person to die in a relationship is the husband, who is also likely to have organised the family finances without wanting to worry his partner or children with the details.