Estate Planning after the Death of a Spouse

There are few things as painful in life as the death of a spouse. In addition to weathering the devastating emotions like loneliness and sadness that accompany this process, it is still important to plan for your future as a widow or widower. 


Unfortunately in some situations, the surviving spouse might have even been left out of financial and estate planning decisions that were made before death. 


This article reviews some of the important strategies that you should remember when it comes to estate planning and the death of a spouse.


# 1 – Make Sure Both Spouses Are Financially Prepared


While it might seem like a mistake that can be easily avoided, there are a number of cases where surviving spouses are unable to locate the deceased spouse’s financial account or are not listed as joint owner of the account. 


Not only should both spouses make sure to avoid these errors, they should also make sure that they can readily access an account to pay for sudden costs or funeral expenses that arise. 


# 2 – Spouses Should Share Estate Plans

The estate planning process is a private one, but it is a wise idea for both spouses to share details about estate plans. The spouses should also know where to locate copies of the other spouse’s estate planning documents. 


Successful administration or execution of estate planning documents is often dependent on a person’s ability to locate these documents. 


# 3 – Routinely Update Estate Planning Documents


Even if your life has no major changes in it, it is still a wise idea to routinely update your estate planning documents approximately every five years. During the review process, you should make sure that your estate planning documents are still capable of fulfilling your wishes. 


If you do experience substantial changes in your life like births, divorce, or marriage, you should make sure to promptly update your estate planning documents. In addition to any personal changes, it can be helpful to remain up to date with important legal changes that might impact your estate plans. 


# 4 – Plan around Common Problems


By understanding some of the challenges that married couples commonly face during the divorce process. Some of the obstacles faced after the death of a spouse include:


  • Individuals who pass away and fail to name the other spouse as a beneficiary on an account. This can result in additional complications before the surviving spouse receives this amount. 
  • Many spouses take a substantial amount of time to create a trust, but fail to transfer assets into a trust before they pass away. 
  • Some individuals enter a second marriage, but fail to change designations on life insurance policies. 


Talk to a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Attorney


The loss of a spouse can be devastating, but this process can be even more challenging if you encounter difficulties with the other spouse’s estate plans. 

To greatly decrease the number of obstacles that you encounter, it can be a wise idea to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today for assistance.

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