How to Proceed with Widow

How to Proceed with Widow

We have a volunteer that lost her husband to complications of Multiple Sclerosis last year. She has indicated through direct mail that she plans to leave our organization in her will. She is moving on with her life but remains involved. I need to make a visit - should I mention her estate?


With anyone who just lost a spouse or other close family member, the focus should be on helping them with their grieving and coming to terms with their loss. If they bring up a discussion of the donations, whether under their will or otherwise, you can certainly pursue it. Often, the idea of setting up a chartiable fund in the memory of a loved one can bring tremendous solace to the survivors, but that is a personal decision. The widow (or family) might wish to do something currently in memory of her husband. Listen to clues during the visit. If the widow indicates concern about finances, what are they? Its possible that her husband left her adequate resoures (through insurance or othewise) and that her concerns pertain to outliving her money or investment decisions she might not have been involved with in the past. Some of these concerns might be alleviated through introductions to financial or wealth managers your organization has contacts with. To a limited degree the use of gift annuities might provide her double solace (so long as it reasonably fits her financial needs). A moderate component of her investment assets allocated to gift annuities from a charity engaged in helping those living with Multiple Sclerosis may give the widow some financial peace of mind (the regularity of payments) and emotional solace for helping the organization. Focus on helping her through her hard time and both she and your organization will likely benefit most. Be certain to encourage her to get professional financial help. Following the loss of a spouse is no time to make major financial decisions for anyone.

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