Alone and Alive

a practical guide for dealing with the death of your husband

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did you write this book?

I wrote this book because of my personal experience as a widow. Even though I’d handled probate and estate planning for many years, I found myself facing issues that were new to me, and as difficult for me to handle as they are for any other widow. As I dealt with these issues, I began to realize that, while there were many good guides for dealing with grief, there were not many that helped a widow with all of the other decisions that she needed to make. Many decisions have to be made during a certain timetable. Tax returns have to be filed within a certain time period, financial decisions have to be made quickly. Without a guide to help you through this maze of new things, the widow is vulnerable to fraud, abuse, and depression. I wrote this book to help the widow find her way successfully through that maze and come out alive and happy on the other side.

Is the book simply a cut and dried guide full of legalese?

Not at all. The book not only contains simple, easy to understand explanation for many of the issues that a widow faces, it is also filled with my own personal experiences, and experiences out of my practice. Those experiences are used to illustrate the advice covered in that chapter. But, more than illustrating, they remind the widow that she is not alone. Others have gone this way and survived.

Can’t the widow get all of this advice from friends and family?

No. My experience is that well meaning friends and family will provide lots of advice, much of it conflicting. While their intentions are good, they are limited in the amount of accurate information they have. I frequently see women in my probate practice that have been told by well meaning friends that they did not need to probate their husband’s will. By the time they get to me, it is too late to probate their husband’s will, and often with very detrimental effects on the widow. Such advice can result in loss of ownership of property and money, as well as other tax and financial repercussions. While friends and family mean well, they may not have the necessary information to provide professional advice on all the issues the widow faces.

Can’t the widow just go on the Internet to find what she needs?

While the Internet is a tremendous tool for doing research, and can be a valuable asset to the widow, the information provided in it is not always accurate. Related to probate, the laws are different in each state, and you must find a site that accurately reports the laws of your state. Financial planning information is often skewed toward an agenda by someone who is selling financial products. Sometimes that can be of benefit to the widow, and sometimes it is not in her best interests. Because the Internet pulls in information from such a wide variety of sources, it is sometimes difficult for the grieving widow to sort out useful information from that which is not useful, leaving her even more confused than she was when she started the search.

Does your book cover everything a widow might need to know?

While I tried to make the book as comprehensive as possible, there can always be an issue that is not addressed in the book. My advice to women who find themselves faced with something which is not addressed is to get competent, professional help. Professional help comes in many forms. It can come from a probate and estate planning attorney. Help comes from your family physician, from your accountant, from a trusted financial adviser. Where you should not get advice is from your next door neighbor’s aunt’s experience, or your first cousin’s hairdresser’s grandmother. Always choose to use someone who has actual knowledge of the events.

What are your credentials for writing this book?

Obviously, I have experience through my practice. I am an estate planning, probate, and elder law attorney. As such, I’ve dealt with many widows in crisis and families in crisis. Those experiences have helped me to understand what issues most families see in common and the best ways to handle them. Additionally, I have an MBA, which allows me to assist in explaining the financial questions that the new widow faces, and a Masters of Divinity. But mostly, my experience as a widow, just like all of my readers, allows me not only to empathize with them, but also to have walked along the same trail they’re walking. It gives me an understanding that cannot be acquired from reading. As such, I understand what the widow goes through, and can apply my experience and education to that understanding.

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Contact Info
Texas Law Office of
Janet Shafer Boyanton, P.C.

211 Executive Way
De Soto, Texas 75115-2336
Phone: (972) 298-6111
Fax: (972) 298-6301