Does your estate plan tie in directly with that of your spouse? This is one of the most common approaches to estate planning, but it can have dangers if you haven’t considered individual plans beyond both of you. While it’s natural to have an estate plan that passes on assets to the other person when the first passes away, there’s a lot to consider when you lose a spouse. Many people have also reported it’s one of the most challenging things they’ve gone through in their life. Having a plan can make this difficult experience a bit easier.
Make sure that you understand the important and difficult role that you may have to play immediately after losing a spouse. Being a surviving spouse is one of the most difficult roles to fill, but there are certain tasks that must be taken care of immediately. As soon as you are able to do so, you need to prepare your legal documents and plans to protect both yourself as well as your heirs. The sooner you can reach out to your estate planning attorney and probate lawyer, the easier this process will be. After a spouse passes away, most of the attention is typically diverted to administering the decedent’s estate.
This means that very little time is spent addressing the legal needs of the surviving spouse. However, there are important legal steps that must be taken during this time to protect the survivor. Legal documents must be reviewed immediately to ensure what will happen after the death of the second person and to verify that the surviving spouse is still protected during the course of his or her lifetime.
The surviving spouse should always have their own trust and will reviewed at this time. Many of these documents have an automatic provision that will apply to the treatment of the spouse that has now passed away, whereas others may address the treatment of the heirs.
A consultation with a lawyer is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have done enough in the estate planning process. It can be very difficult to sit down and talk specifics with an attorney, but many lawyers who are very familiar with this process approach the concept with care and consideration. The support of a lawyer is instrumental in helping you through this otherwise very difficult time, and the services of an attorney should be retained immediately.