What Happens When A Client Dies?

Published on:
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Barbara Boustead
Caring hands

One of the most difficult aspects of my work as a daily moneymanager is when a client dies.

Because I work primarily with seniors, usually the individual is in their late 80s or 90s and there are signs that the end of life is near. There is a noticeable decline in the physical health and/or cognitive functioning of the person. If the client is in an assisted living residence, they may have other professionals involved in their care, including aging life care professionals or social workers who take an active role in working with the client during the end stages of life.

If a client still lives at home, this is where hospice staff can be invaluable as they are able to handle many aspects of the dying process, and have a protocol in place for individuals who are nearing the end of life.

These are challenging times for the client's family and close
friends. It is also a sad time for me as well.

For most of my clients, I've spent many hours over several years
not only opening their mail and paying bills, but also hearing their stories
about the "good old days" and talking about their adult children and
grandchildren. We discussed their work lives when they were younger and hobbies and
interests as they got older. Because several of my clients' families live a distance
away, they are not able to visit very often, so I see their loved ones more
often than they do.

When I learn of a client's death, I allow myself some time to grieve the loss and share memories of the deceased, sometimes with family members. However, if there is no family available, maybe with a few of the staff and professionals who have been a part of the client's life. But then I need to put aside my personal feelings and focus on my client's final wishes and provide support to the family as appropriate.

One of my responsibilities as their daily money manager is to see that all estate documents are current and in a safe location. If this hasn't been done already, I may contact the client's Health Care agent and Power of Attorney to inform them about the client's impending death, as these individuals may be out of town and will need to make travel arrangements.

For a client who has died, I may be asked to notify the medical, legal and financial professionals who have worked with them. If the client's family member or the executor prefers to contact these individuals directly, I am able to provide the correct phone numbers, addresses and any other documents they may need.

Many of my DMM colleagues serve as Power of Attorney for their clients and take on additional fiduciary responsibilities. They become the decision-makers once a client has passed on. I do not usually work with clients in this way, but will assist the family members or other professionals as needed.  Having a DMM who is the fiduciary for their client may be the best alternative for individuals who have no family or trusted person to act on their behalf once they are gone.

It is often a time of sorrow and upheaval in the lives of
family members when their loved one dies. I feel very fortunate that I can assist my clients when they are alive by managing the financial paperwork; and after their death when I can
provide the necessary information for the families and professionals as they handle estate matters.

If you or someone you know could benefit from a free consultation to discuss whether a Daily Money Manager is right for you, please contact me at 608-515-4083 or barbara@marysdaughterllc.com