"Lots of inheritors feel frustrated with the kind of communication they get from advisors," he observes. "They either talk way over their heads or act in a condescending manner, particularly if someone is young. It's up to professionals to reach out and get feedback about what they are doing right and where there is room for improvement."

While connecting with inheritors is important, serious discussions about crafting a new investment strategy should wait at least a couple of months after the death, says Stuart. "People need some grieving time. In the beginning, the best thing you can do is help the estate get squared away and act as a calming influence."

Client Death "Action Plan"

Following the death of a client, financial advisors play a key role in assisting family members, attorneys and other professionals involved with settling the estate. Below is a partial list of "action items" developed by RegentAtlantic Capital in Chatham, N.J.
Change account records to reflect the status of the client as "deceased." Eliminate obvious headings such as "Mr. & Mrs.," which might be painful for the family.
Arrange for flowers to be sent to the funeral home, and prepare a sympathy card for the family.
Obtain a taxpayer ID# for the estate and establish an estate account.
Read through documents to determine key roles in the estate, such as executors or beneficiaries.
Find out who will receive employee benefits, life insurance, trust assets and IRA accounts, as well as the names of professionals likely to be involved in settling the estate, including the attorney, accountant or trust officer.
Meet with heirs and/or selected professionals to volunteer for responsibilities and avoid duplication of effort.
Obtain documentation, such as a certified copy of the death certificate or an affidavit of domicile. Separate
originals of these documents may be necessary.
Prepare a valuation of assets.

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