You may have juggled a zillion family responsibilities both in and out of the house. But chances are you didn't handle everything. Perhaps your husband handled the investments. Or dealt with advisers, such as a CPA or a lawyer. But now, after a divorce or the death of your husband, are you prepared to take over the entire financial picture?

Maybe not. Where do you even start?

That's the question that a recent MarketWatch article asks. The article, titled "Women in transition: Where do I start?" acknowledged that women in transition usually face different challenges than men.

Some men are new to maintaining a household; likewise, some women are new to handling issues outside the house. These can include investments, taxes and legal matters. It can be a drastic change for many women and can be overwhelming.

With that in mind, the original article sets out four initial steps to consider:

  • Resist the temptation to conquer the world right away: You do not need to. Start with an experienced estate planning attorney.
  • Get a trusted adviser: A trusted adviser could very well be an estate planning attorney. You want someone who is well-qualified, well-networked and trustworthy. They may not have all the answers, but they can refer you to other quality professionals who do.
  • Build a team of advisers: Ask the trusted adviser to help you build a team of professionals around you. The team will eventually expand and might add insurance, banking, wellness and other professionals.
  • Develop a plan of action: While you may have to handle some matters initially, it is best to work from an action plan rather than react hastily with random, knee-jerk decisions. Let your estate planning attorney guide you in the development of the plan. Grab the initiative and learn what you need to know so you can empower yourself going forward.

Transition is not easy, but it can be a gratifying growth experience. You may even find strengths and capabilities you didn't think you possessed.

Reference: MarketWatch (June 20, 2014) "Women in transition: Where do I start?"

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