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Updating your estate plan when your spouse passes away

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Estate Planning

The loss of a spouse is a deeply emotional experience. In addition to grieving, there are practical matters that may need to be addressed, including updating your estate plan.

Among other things, an estate plan may outline how your assets will be distributed after your death, and it’s crucial to adjust it to reflect your current situation after such a significant life change.

Understand the estate-related impacts of your spouse’s passing

Before diving into revisions, it’s important to understand how your spouse’s absence affects your existing plan. In many cases, your spouse may have been named as the primary beneficiary in your will, trust or retirement accounts. Their passing can create a void that needs to be filled with new designations. Furthermore, you’ll want to consider how your financial picture has changed. Are there new tax implications for a single filer? Do you need to adjust your plan to account for increased living expenses?

Revisit your core documents

Your will and trust are the cornerstones of your estate plan and should be revisited when your spouse passes away. Review your will and, if applicable, your revocable living trust. You’ll likely need to update beneficiary designations, especially if your spouse was named as the primary beneficiary. You may also want to re-evaluate the distribution of your assets, particularly if you have minor children or dependents.

Another set of important documents you should revisit are powers of attorney and healthcare directives. These documents designate individuals to make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. If your spouse held these roles, you’ll need to appoint new designees.

Revising your estate plan is an essential step to help ensure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are protected in the wake of losing your spouse. By following these steps and seeking legal guidance, you can confidently approach this process and move forward with greater peace of mind.