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Dealing with Unexpected Loss

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Loss is a real and pervasive part of life. Sudden loss tends to feel less likely with our subconscious telling us that it would never happen to our family. But every day we hear about these sudden losses in the media and is evidenced by startling statistics. In 2022 alone, no less than 200,000 people in America lost their lives due to accidental deaths – add in the over 600,000 cancer-related deaths (~30,000 of those children) and ~49,000 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia – and suddenly tragedy feels a little too close for comfort. This may all feel grim, but we can lead with compassion and resilience to move through tragedies, whether expected or unexpected.

Not all of life’s adventures are positive. Below we offer insights and approaches to facing the reality of the unexpected and how to build a village of support for those “just in case” moments.

Experiencing the loss of a beloved can be an immensely difficult journey. It’s common to feel overwhelmed by a kaleidoscope of intense emotions, ranging from deep sorrow and anguish to anger and confusion – often all at once. Navigating this loss can be challenging but whether we like it or not, even in our grief, the world continues to demand our time and attention.

The Demands of Life

Unexpected loss can be especially challenging when you are trying to balance the responsibilities of managing your family and career. Everyday events like dinners and carpools might feel like insurmountable feats during this time. This is where your communities can help. Don’t hesitate to put trusted family and friends in charge of everyday tasks to free your mental capacity for legal or financial to-dos that need your immediate attention. No one wants to prepare for tragedy, but in the same way that you have a team of professional advisors to manage your finances, so should you appoint your family and friends in case of an emergency.

With work bereavement benefits typically lasting only three to five days, be realistic about what you can handle and ask for help if you need it. Understanding how what-ifs might impact your business or your job is a crucial thing to pay attention to. Understand your employer’s bereavement policy or know if you can take extended time off to care for your family. Look for benefits you can leverage, like PTO, or mental health days, to give you more time to take care of your responsibilities at home. If you’re a business owner, be prepared with a continuity plan so your business can continue to run well in the day-to-day. During difficult times, prioritizing self-care is essential and if you’re worried about work, it could bring additional stress to an already stressful situation.

Understanding the Financial Implications of Loss

There are often financial implications associated with an unexpected loss. Whether the loss triggers an inheritance or serves up unforeseen debt, make sure to set yourself up to grasp the economic consequences and take steps to manage them. Take stock of your assets, including any savings, investments, and insurance policies. Look at your debts, including mortgages, credit card balances, and other loans. Review any life insurance policies, disability insurance, or homeowner’s insurance. File any necessary claims and follow the process for receiving the benefits you are entitled to. All this will give you a clear picture of your current financial situation and help you identify any immediate financial needs. Remember your long-term financial goals and how the loss may impact them.

When an inheritance is anticipated, pulling your professional team together to communicate with family members can help avoid unnecessary friction. Even better, make sure your family is on the same page long before a loss occurs. Our recent blog series on inheritance covers family communication and pre-death inheritance strategies that help communicate and execute your wishes today. If you inherit a large sum of money, consider the best ways to manage this new wealth. This could include investing in a diversified portfolio, setting up trusts for future generations, or making charitable donations. Be sure to understand the tax implications and reach out to your accountant or financial advisor to guide you through the process and help develop a plan that aligns with your values and goals. If you have any feelings of guilt that may accompany the unexpected loss and inheritance, know that it’s natural to feel guilty about receiving wealth that may have come at a cost. Still, it’s important to remember that the money is now in your possession, and it’s up to you to use it responsibly and meaningfully. You can channel your guilt into charitable giving or investing in causes that align with your values. It can feel overwhelming, but when you take steps to manage your newfound wealth and take care of yourself and your family during this difficult time, you’ll feel more secure in the long term.

At Treehouse Wealth Advisors, we understand that life’s journey includes many twists and turns. We are here to support our clients through good times and bad with the hope that we can help add stress-free stability and joy through whatever life presents.

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Garrison Point Advisors, LLC doing business as “Treehouse Wealth Advisors” (“TWA”) is an investment advisor in Walnut Creek, CA registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Registration of an investment advisor does not imply any specific level of skill or training and does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the Commission. TWA only transacts business in states in which it is properly registered or is excluded or exempted from registration. A copy of TWA’s current written disclosure brochures, Form ADV Part 1 and Part 2A, filed with the SEC which discusses among other things, TWA’s business practices, services, and fees, is available through the SEC’s website at:

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