Big transitions. They are at the heart of most of the major work we do with clients— inheritance, selling a business, retirement, divorce and even death. But most of these transitions require more than our planning skills. We are called on to become counselors and confidants beyond the financial as we help them navigate sudden change and uncertainty.

In most cases, we advise our clients to step back and make no decisions until time, and emotions, have passed and they feel ready to move forward. It’s critical for them to recognize they are not in a normal state of mind. That they should wait until they can deal with the transition—in many cases a trauma—in a thoughtful way and avoid costly mistakes. No one needs to decide anything today, or even this week. It’s really best to withdraw from further action until they are able to sort things out.

Because we have seen so many clients go through these situations, we try to prepare them for transitions we can anticipate such as retirement or selling a business. But we also try to help them understand that there likely will be unexpected events, and let them know we can help them to deal with those as well.

In her book, Sudden Money, Managing a Financial Windfall, author and financial advisor Susan Bradley examines the issues surrounding people who experience financial windfalls in varying degrees, and she identifies eight common events, all of which affect people emotionally as well as financially:

·       Winning the lottery

·       Taking a lump sum retirement payout

·       Insurance settlements

·       Divorce settlements

·       Intergenerational inheritance

·       Spousal inheritance