Which estate documents should you update following your spouse’s death?

| Jul 19, 2021 | Estate Planning

Life is quite unpredictable. Each day, Nevada residents die unexpectedly.  These untimely deaths are difficult to process and cope with. They also serve as examples of the importance of having a current estate plan.

Adults should have estate plans that they update at regular intervals or when life-changing events occur, including when a spouse passes away. What are some of the most important things that need to be reviewed? Consider the following:

Health care power of attorney

One of the first documents that you will want to reassess is your medical power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy. It identifies the person you want to make medical choices for you in the event of your incapacity. This document will likely need to be updated if your spouse has died, since you most likely named your spouse to be your health care agent. You will want to make sure you designated the right people to make your health care choices, if needed.

Financial power of attorney

Another document that you should revisit is your financial power of attorney. Most spouses list each other as their agent or attorney-in-fact on this document. If your spouse has died, then you should consider naming someone else to make financial choices on your behalf, and under what circumstances that person can act.

Accounts, retirement assets, and life insurance

If your spouse has died, you should review how your assets are titled and what beneficiary designations you have on your accounts. Ideally, your accounts are in the name of your trust. If not, you should consider retitling those accounts. If you named your spouse as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other accounts, then you need to update those beneficiary designations so they go to the right people upon your death. All too often a surviving spouse does not get around to making sure their assets are properly titled and have the right beneficiaries designated, after a spouse dies. Failing to do can create significant issues when the surviving spouse dies.

Wills and trusts

If you have a will and/or a trust, then you will likely need to update those documents upon the death of a spouse. Even if a change is not needed, it is worth your time to review and make sure

Estate planning following a loved one’s loss

When a spouse or loved one dies, reviewing and making revisions to your estate plan may not be something you think about or want to do, but it is important that you do. As difficult as it can be to go through these experiences, failing to revisit your estate plan can bring further complications in the event of your incapacity or death.