Losing a spouse can consume you. Apart from the emotional toll, there are also practical matters that you have to deal with. Managing administrative tasks like estate planning may be the last thing on your mind. Still, it’s crucial to handle these matters now to prevent problems in the future. The death of your spouse can change your life; your estate plan should reflect that.
Your spouse is likely an integral part of your estate plan, making it necessary to update your documents after their passing. Here are some of the key documents that you should consider updating:
1. Will or trust
Because they are your life partner, your spouse is likely your estate’s primary beneficiary or personal representative. However, after their passing, you must update the contents of your will or trust to reflect this change.
This may involve redistributing assets or appointing a new personal representative or trustee.
2. Financial power of attorney
It’s common for people to name their spouse as their financial power of attorney, giving their spouse the duty and authority to manage their financial affairs and properties.
Revisiting your financial power of attorney document and appointing a trusted person after the death of your spouse can help ensure that your financial matters remain in good hands in an emergency.
3. Health care power of attorney
Similarly, your health care power of attorney can make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapable. If your spouse is the primary health care agent, it’s crucial to designate a new one immediately.
You never know what can happen. If you were to become incapacitated and incapable of communicating your medical preferences, an outdated health care power of attorney could cause confusion and delay medical treatment.
4. Deeds and titles
If you’re like most married couples, it’s likely that you jointly own real estate properties and assets with your spouse. After their passing, you may want to update your deeds and titles to reflect the recent changes in your life. This may involve transferring ownership to your name alone or adding a new co-owner.
Coping with losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with all the legal and administrative tasks that follow can be overwhelming. It is important to remember that asking for help is always an option. An experienced estate planning attorney can consider the changes in your circumstances and help you update your estate plan accordingly.