Whenever the death of your spouse occurs, it is a life-altering trauma. At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., our capable, caring estate administration attorneys have spent decades assisting clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod in updating their estate plans after a spouse’s death. Contact us now so we can help you move forward.
We understand that at the same time, you are experiencing overwhelming grief, your daily life has irrevocably changed and the lack of familiarity is unnerving. In addition, there are myriad legal and financial matters to be taken care of in the immediate aftermath of this terrible loss. Several of these involve updating your estate plan. Though this may be something you’d like to postpone, it is essential that you attend to this matter promptly to protect your family, your legacy, and your assets.
How We Will Make Your Life Easier at this Difficult Time
Once you contact us, we will make an appointment to meet with you to help you make the necessary estate plan changes. Our priority is to make certain your estate plan meets your particular needs and that all changes to your documents are carefully crafted and legally binding.
Documents That Need to Be Altered After the Death of Your Spouse
1. Your Will
Several changes will have to be made to your will now that you are widowed. Since in most cases, your spouse has been named as the first or perhaps the sole beneficiary of your estate, you will now have to direct your assets to those you consider next in line, typically your children. If your spouse was also named as your personal representative, you will also have to designate a replacement.
Significantly, if your spouse passed while any of your children are still minors, you will have to name a guardian so that if you become incapacitated or die while they are still young, your children will be well tended to. In such a case, you should put their funds in a trust so it is protected until they reach the age of maturity.
2. Health Care Proxy
Your Health Care Proxy gives another person the right to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated and can no longer make these decisions yourself. If you originally named your spouse as your Health Care Proxy, you will have to choose another trusted individual to make these decisions on your behalf.
3. Durable Power of Attorney (POA)
If you had given your spouse Power of Attorney (POA) in your existing estate plan, it is important that you designate another trustworthy person now that your spouse has passed. Power of attorney is a crucial designation because it names the individual you give the power to handle your business, legal, and financial affairs. If you don’t create a POA in advance, a relative or friend might have to go through an expensive lengthy, public court process to have a guardian appointed if you become incapacitated.
4. HIPAA Release
A HIPAA Release, conceived to protect your privacy, names the individuals with whom you want your medical information shared if you are unable to communicate with healthcare professionals. During your marriage, you may have signed a HIPAA Release form giving your spouse this privilege, so the form will now have to be altered to make sure that there is someone you trust in this role. Without an updated HIPAA Release form, your family will be unable to access this vital information.
5. Beneficiary Designations
Most people are likely to have other documents with beneficiary designations that require updating, such as:
- Retirement plans
- Life insurance
- Brokerage accounts
If your spouse is currently listed as your beneficiary on any of these accounts, you should review your estate plan with us and make the necessary changes to protect your assets.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Administration Attorneys Today
When it comes to updating your estate plan after the death of your spouse, we are fully prepared to do all the heavy lifting. We realize how tough life is for you now and will do everything possible to ease your path forward. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we will help you regain your sense of balance.