By Cass Grange, Senior Advisor Associate and Chaney Barton-Nichols, Marketing Assistant
We frequently share that many of our clients come to us during times of transition. Perhaps it’s children going off to college, parents growing older and passing, or retirement, a divorce, etc. All these examples of transition require a great deal of planning – financially and emotionally – and the logistics can be quite complicated. Often powerful messages from our past can resurface during these times: we should do this ourselves, we need to keep this within the family… Crises or difficult situations make us think that the best solution is to buckle down and tackle issues head-on and bear the burden alone, or that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It’s not.
We’re here to remind you that you do not have to go through challenges or transitions alone. There is no shame in recruiting an expert to assist you. In fact, it is a sign of intelligence. The most difficult part of the process, however, may be finding the expert. At Lucien, Stirling & Gray, we’re happy to help analyze your situation, no matter what you may be going through, and we’re here to assist you in finding additional resources. We may not have all the answers, but we will work with you as a quarterback to build a support system of professionals to help you confidently address all kinds of challenges.
Among some of the outside experts that we frequently refer our clients to are estate and probate lawyers that can assist in writing your wills, marriage counselors, insurance experts, CPAs, employment lawyers, business brokers to assist in selling a business, and senior resources- which include transportation, bill-paying, and assisted-living locator assistance. We’ve even referred folks to a trusted expert that assisted in writing a eulogy for a funeral. Although we have these resources readily available, we cannot know what you need unless you ask, so please do!
One of our advisors once worked with a rather reclusive client who was reluctant to come in for an appointment. When she finally did schedule an appointment, she shared that she had been too overwhelmed to open or read her mail, which meant that her bills weren’t being paid. Fortunately, most of her bills were on auto-payment, and we had set up her investments to directly deposit money into her checking account every month, so most important payments were being made. However, household finances were not being paid any attention. “I feel so ashamed,” she said to her advisor, in tears. “I can teach, but I’ve always hated paying bills and taxes. It just got away from me.” For her specific situation, we arranged for a social worker from Family Eldercare, a non-profit provider of services to seniors, to meet with her. This caring professional was a certified bill payer and was willing to meet our client here in our office to ensure that she was comfortable. We helped her articulate what she needed and the social worker agreed to go to her house each week to assist her in sorting out her bills. As a result, the client is feeling much better, and a burden has been lifted from her shoulders.
The important point is that once she was willing to share the burden, we could help her solve the problem. We all have talents and gifts, but we must remember that we are not talented at everything – if you have a task that seems daunting, why not ask for an introduction to someone who can help? Hire someone who loves organizing to help with your house, and as a result you have more free time for gardening. Hire cleaning help so that you can spend more of your spare time with grandchildren – the trade-off of passing on a task to an expert is oftentimes very rewarding!
Another piece of advice that some of you may find relatable: Hiring a competent CPA can help your marriage. Another client once shared that every April, she and her husband had the same fight over money, taxes, deadlines, and paperwork. It turned out that both of them despised working on their taxes, but they had it in their heads that “everyone should be capable of doing their own taxes.” Maybe your dad gave you that advice in 1972 when you graduated from high school, but you are busier now… and your taxes are much more complicated! Lucien, Stirling & Gray can introduce you to a CPA who can work with you and with us on your behalf.
Many times a client will refer a relative to speak with us, and they will forewarn us that this relative is difficult and won’t share information or doesn’t like to take advice. Just remember, an objective professional can often get further with family money issues than an adult son or daughter can with their parent. In these situations, we’ve found that with expertise and objectivity, we can bring thoughtful solutions. This is one of the benefits of consulting an expert in a highly charged situation – and money is always highly charged.
Places like Home Depot love the do-it-yourselfers… But, if the thing that you are doing brings you no joy or fulfillment, drains you of your energy, or is just too complicated to tackle on your own, there is no shame in asking for help. As you talk with your friends and family and they mention stress over money or their finances, I hope you will share your knowledge of our firm with them. We never do business on the first appointment and we will treat anyone you have recommended with the respect and courtesy we give to all of our clients.
Finally, after sharing our stories, we hope that you too will not hesitate to ask for help. There is a solution for every challenge. Bringing someone new to a situation, who has a different set of skills, can reduce stress and solve problems. Often, the social worker, CPA, lawyer, or financial advisor can become a trusted friend and colleague. Expand your circle. Ask for an introduction or make one!