Half of all wives in the United States are widows by age 60, and seven of 10 baby boomer wives will outlive their first husbands. Roughly 1 million women become widows each year.
Seventy percent of widows fire the financial advisor they used as a couple following their husband’s death. Married couples often prepare inadequately for the possibility of their spouse’s death. Not only are their wills out-of-date, their account information and passwords are not shared.
Enter Kathleen Rehl, owner and founder of Rehl WEALTH Collaborations LLC, who became acutely aware of statistics and lapses such as these after the death of her husband when she was just 60. At the time, she was owner of Rehl Financial Advisors, which she had started in 1996.
At 1 p.m. today at the Chautauqua Women’s Club House, Rehl will speak from personal and professional experience about emotional and financial transitions. Her talk is titled “A Widow’s Journey: The Club No Woman Wants to Join.”
Based on attendance at and responses to her previous addresses to the Chautauqua Professional Women’s Network in August 2014 and July 2013, CPWN founder and chair Avivah Wittenberg-Cox recognized a continuing need within the Chautauqua community for Rehl’s practical advice. She convinced Rehl to come back this summer.
Nearly 20 years after earning her doctorate in education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and starting a career in teaching and development, Rehl became a licensed financial planner.
Two years ago, she relinquished her financial planning license to reach more widows through speaking, teaching and writing.
Last January, Rehl completed a new two-year program through the Sudden Money Institute and became a Certified Financial Transitionist. She is also a member of SMI’s teaching faculty, and dean of women at the Purposeful Planning Institute.
Since 1999, Rehl has written three financial books for widows: Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows, Working with Widows: Understanding Grief and Emotions of Women in Transition, and Planning for the Times of Your Life: 45 Great Financial Planning Ideas.
Rehl decided to write only e-booklets last year. She said she provides them for free on her website, kathleenrehl.com.
“One is a chapter from my book, Moving Forward on Your Own. Anyone can download it,” she said. “I say, ‘Share the love; pass it on.’ It is not copyrighted material.”
In 2014, Rehl began writing e-booklets. To date she has completed five.
“I have an idea for a sixth e-book for this fall,” Rehl said. “I first think of the title, and then I write it. This will be called ‘Living Forward.’ It will be about how to help professionals work with new widows so they have clarity and vision about the coming stages in their life, including the grief stage.”
Rehl established the Kathleen Moore Rehl Moving Forward on Your Own Family Foundation last year. Through it she provides grants to nonprofit organizations that help widows.
“This is a calling for me,” Rehl said. “This is my personal ministry. It’s what keeps me jazzed. It’s a very creative encore career for me.”