After losing a loved one, some things can — and must — wait. But there are also many things you should do immediately in order to protect yourself and your family.
Here is some estate planning advice for widows and widowers:
- Update your will. If you haven’t updated your will in the past five years, it’s time to do so now. Make sure the beneficiaries listed are accurate and reflect what you want; if there are any changes, make them accordingly.
- Appoint a trusted person to replace the decedent in a Power of Attorney. If the surviving spouse becomes unable to sign documents and does not have a POA in place, this will involve court interference, which can lead to costly and timely delays.
- Create or review your health care proxy designation (the person who makes medical decisions on behalf of another). Is your choice still appropriate? It may be time to have someone named as an alternate.
- Review and update all beneficiary designation forms for life insurance, retirement, brokerage, and bank accounts.
It may seem impossible to think of anything but your loss at a time like this. Add in legal matters, and you’ve got a recipe for confusion and overwhelm. However, the sooner you take care of these things, the better off you’ll be down the road. Not only will you be protecting your loved one’s possessions, but also their memories and values—which is what really matters anyway.
We’re here to help if you ever have any questions, and we wish you the best during this difficult time.
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