attorney

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

September 26, 2019
daybreak

Today I pray the Serenity Prayer for friends whom I hold close to my heart: May God grant you the wisdom to understand and evaluate all the doctors say, to ask the questions that need to be asked and to make the decisions that need to be made. May God grant you the courage to go forward with your usual optimism and faith, even if …

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Men: Don’t Do This to Your Wives

May 2, 2019
Ella in file room

Everyone—all the banks, all the media—seems to have waked up at the same time to the fact that women outlive men and almost all will have to be responsible for their own financial affairs at some point in their lives. There’s not a week when I don’t see another story about it. It’s not just the Wall Street Journal or Brown Brothers Harriman’s Women and …

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“Will Your Book Help Me?”

September 23, 2018
STSCS library gift

With the publication of Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows and the publicity surrounding it, I am hearing the question often, “Will your book help me?” The answer in most cases is YES. Near the back of the Bible, you will find a short letter—barely four pages in my version—from the Apostle Paul to the small, poor, discouraged, divided congregation at Philippi. Fourteen times Paul …

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A Letter to My Fellow Widows

September 11, 2018
letter to widows

After the publication of my memoir, Reclaiming Joy, started generating attention on social media, I began to hear from people who found their way to this website. They shared their loss—or their friend’s or mother’s loss—and asked, “Will your book help?” I can’t make any promises, but perhaps the letter I wrote back in 2014 when I first began to plan a book—now the introduction to …

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From Smiling Spouse to CEO

July 13, 2017

On April 9, 2009, I was transformed in an instant from smiling spouse and gracious hostess to executor, trustee, CEO and client. I am not sure that anyone had confidence in me. I certainly had none in myself. Through the years, Lev repeatedly told me that I did not need to know his business because “they will be here for you.” They were not. He …

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David Rockefeller: A Worthy Role Model

April 6, 2017
Colonial Williamsburg

Lev died April 7, 2009—eight years ago tomorrow. There I was, unprepared for all that I must do, immediately confronted with practical and legal realities. Overnight, I moved from the role of smiling spouse and gracious hostess to that of executor, trustee, CEO and—most dreaded of all—matriarch. I am not sure that anyone had confidence in me. I certainly had none in myself. Because I …

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Living Life Between the Hash Marks

November 10, 2016
football hash marks

About a year after Lev’s death, I found it necessary to replace my attorney. As a new widow, I had no experience in hiring and firing advisors. Fortunately, I did not need to turn to the Yellow Pages, for I was acquainted with an attorney who represented people and institutions I respected. When my son and I met with him for the first time, I …

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How Much Is Safe to Spend?

October 20, 2016
Pray for the best

The question raised in the headline nags at me. Should you save enough to live to 100? The subhead promises that “here are ways to insulate yourself against outliving your money”—everyone’s fear—but the recommendations are almost opposite those I received from my husband’s professional advisors after I became a widow in 2009. Instead, the writer seems to say, “Oh, chances are you won’t live that …

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Finances: A Widow’s Nightmare

April 14, 2016
desk

Seven years ago today—one week after Lev’s death, my first day alone in my empty house—I was walking across the library when I received an unexpected call from his financial advisors—three people sitting around a speaker phone in another city. I was given no forewarning, no opportunity to have my attorney on the line. The team leader informed me that the bank (this was one …

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13 Ways to Prepare for Widowhood

February 11, 2016
until death do us part

Absolutely no one (except possibly fortune hunters who marry older men for their money) wants to consider the prospect of widowhood. We are all in denial. It as if by refusing to acknowledge the possibility, we shake our fists in the face of the gods. But the facts are undeniable: The most recent American Community Survey, published in 2014, estimates that there are almost twenty-five …

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