When addressing the challenges of widows and widowers in estate planning, we all know the last thing anyone wants to think about after the death of their spouse is “What’s next?” Emotions run high after the death of a loved one or spouse, making it a challenge to chart the way forward.
Everyone who is married will become a widow or widower at some point in their lives. Please know that there are ways to deal more effectively with the fallout that comes from the loss of a spouse.
Emotional support is different than legal counsel. Make sure you are seeking out the proper guidance for your feelings. Close friends, family, ministers/rabbis, and counselors are often quite useful to rely on for emotional support.
As for legal counsel and professional advice, it is best to turn to your estate planning attorney, your accountant, and any other professionals whom you know and trust and have worked with you. While many well-intentioned family members will offer their advice on these matters, it is better to seek the advice of professionals who are well versed in these topics.
Assess your financial situation. Determine what your immediate expenditures will be and keep track of recurring expenses like credit card payments and taxes. In addition, it is important to be aware of your liquid assets, such as bank and brokerage accounts. For example, your bank may have frozen your joint account without your knowledge, which can cause issues for you down the road.
Know the whereabouts of your important documents. These include birth certificates, marriage certificates, titles to cars and real properties, insurance policies as well as your estate planning documents. Your estate planning documents, whether a will or trust, will have to be administered.
In the event of a death of a spouse, there are often tough decisions that need to be made. Make sure you stay organized and work with your professional advisors to make all important decisions. Above all, make sure that your health and wellness is taken care of and that you have the proper support systems around you during this hard time.
This post was inspired by Attorney Leigh Hilton of Denton, Texas.