Too often in life, our roles change throughout the span of our working years. We may change jobs, and careers, jump out of the workforce, or back into the workforce. We tend to be familiar with and understand these aspects, but what happens when the change is abrupt, often in retirement, and solely because of the death of a family member?
When viewing the family dynamic throughout history, but even more recent in post-war americana, women take on the brunt of the care duty for the family. This may be mothers helping children, daughters helping parents, or as in this instance, wives helping spouses. In this specific instance, we have seen and helped one woman navigate her changing role.
Women currently have a life expectancy of 79 years (CDC date 2021), while men have a life expectancy of 73. This means the odds are in the wife’s favor for outliving her husband. Further, it tends to be the wife in the relationship that procures and encourages the doctors’ appointments, check-ups, follow-ups, and routine prescription administration. This leaves the wife with the role of primary caregiver.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful client who had this exact case. My client was a homemaker until her husband retired, and unfortunately, after his retirement, he became ill. For a few years, my client was not only taking care of her husband but also her husband’s only sister, who had no spouse or children. Doctor’s visits, prescription administration, and assistance at home were all part of the daily duties. She was as much a nurse and a medical aide as a spouse and sister-in-law.
Then one day, it all came to a screeching halt. Her sister-in-law passed away in December, and in a couple of months, she lost her husband as well. Yes, she had to handle some final planning, but it was at this time that her role completely changed. Just as in Willy Wonka, “whatever was up is now down, and whatever is down is now up.”
These deaths, and so close to one another, precipitated the pivot. Now in existence were two estates that required settlement, each estate having various differing properties and components, including the fabled oil and gas minerals in Texas and beyond. What was she to do?
She did what any good Texas woman would do: she pulled up her bootstraps, hired a team of professionals, and began the process as the new family CEO. With the help of her lawyer, CPA, and Argent, she has been able to navigate the financial world which her husband had operated on their behalf for years.
Argent was appointed as both Agent to Executor and Co-Trustee of the subsequent trusts, and the client can better understand and delegate the required tasks for the undertaking. Argent Mineral Management was crucial for changing deeds and helping manage 310 individual wells within each estate.
If you asked her today if everything is perfect or how it is daily, she would tell you that sometimes it is slow, there is a bit of learning, but having a great team around makes all the difference. Good CEOs put great people in place to help guide the direction of the company, or in her case, the family.
This case should resonate with every professional in our business. Often, people are thrust into a role they have not ever occupied. Our job is to help guide, coach, teach, but most importantly, be a caring and compassionate face amid change. Just because someone has not worked in a role before, does not mean they are incapable….it simply means they need time to transition and quality people around for help. Leaders are born every day but historically overlooked because they wore the uniform of a caregiver.
Should you find yourself in this new leadership role, Argent is here to help. Please contact our advisors as you navigate your journey from caregiver to CEO.