09/23/2013 05:10 EDT | Updated 11/23/2013 05:12 EST

The One Relationship Everyone Should Have

Every time I see a headline like the one this blog has, I automatically think about relationships with other people such as one's spouse, child, parent, etc. Today I include in this very important set of relationships my financial advisor and right about now you are probably asking yourself "what in the world is she talking about?"

When my 39-year-old husband walked out of the house one Sunday morning and a police officer walked up my driveway later that afternoon to inform me he had been killed in an accident, one of the most important relationships in my life was forever changed. At that moment, little did I know, that another relationship I had been building over time was about to become one of the most important in my entire lifetime, the relationship with my financial advisor.

After my husband died I was unable to give my mother a definitive answer as to whether I wanted peas or carrots with my dinner, but there I was making some of the most monumental financial decisions of my adult life. I knew everything that went on in our household from a financial standpoint because I was in the life insurance business but even armed with all of that knowledge, the second call I made that fateful day was to my financial advisor. Never in my life have I been so scared and all I wanted was for someone I knew and trusted to tell me that my 12-and-a-half year old daughter and I would be alright. That answer came from the lips of my financial advisor!

What if I told you that if the primary wage earner in Canada were to die, 30 per cent of families with dependent children admit they will have immediate trouble meeting everyday living expenses, and another 27 per cent say they would only be able to cover expenses for a few months? Thirty per cent of Canadian households, (3.9 million) state they "don't have enough life insurance" and only 44 per cent of all U.S. households have individual life insurance. Thirty per cent of U.S. households (35 million) have no insurance protection at all.

I often have people say to me, "I want to work with a financial advisor but I am worried about how I go about finding the right one." September is Life Insurance Awareness month so I thought this would be a good time to offer up some tips to help make the search and selection of a financial advisor easier. It is extremely important that you have a financial advisor as part of your professional planning team. There is no six-second hotline to heaven and critical illnesses do not come with a calling card. When the tsunami has already hit you, that's not the time to try to develop a relationship with someone new.

Here are my top five tips to help find the right financial advisor for you and your family.

  • Ask your family and friends if they are working with an advisor. If they are, ask them what they like most and the least about working with that advisor. If you like what you hear then ask them to facilitate an introduction to that advisor for you.
  • Set up an appointment to meet the advisor to interview them. Take notes during your meeting and review them afterwards to determine what you liked and did not like about what you heard in the meeting.
  • Interview more than one advisor before deciding on whom you are going to work with.
  • Google the advisors you are considering working with to find out what kind of reputation they have out in the public domain.
  • Once you start working with an advisor, have them meet your spouse, adult children, your parents and your executor. Why do you want them to do this? If something happens to you, they are the people who will most likely be meeting with your advisor not you. Therefore, you want to make sure they already have an existing relationship with that person and it is not the first time they are meeting. (Some 70 per cent of women replace their spouse's financial advisor within one to three years after a death because there was no pre-existing relationship.)

If, after all of the due diligence you have done before choosing your advisor, you feel that the relationship is not developing the way you would like it to, do not hesitate to find another advisor. Remember they are working for you and you have to feel comfortable with them and believe that they have your best interests at heart!

The FPSC (Financial Planning Standards Council) offers up 10 tips that can apply to both sides of the border when choosing a financial advisor.

My financial advisor provided a much-needed lifeline for me at my darkest hour. To this day, I rely upon him when making major financial decisions. Who do you have watching over you and your family's future?

To learn more tips and strategies to help you take control of your family's financial future please visit Jane Blaufus to order my book, WITH THE [STROKE] OF A PEN®, Claim your life and join the Claim Your Life Community. Become part of the 'Courageous Conversations' by following me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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