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Estate planning for a spouse near death

Most people generally don’t enjoy thinking about the end of their own life, but something that may be even more painful is considering the death of one’s spouse. As troubling as that thought may be, it is often a necessary exercise, especially if the spouse is unwell and near death. Though this is understandably a difficult time, there are important considerations for handling that spouse’s assets so that distribution happens as that person desires. California families will want to think about estate planning for that person and what updates or changes may need to occur.

Starting with straightforward matters may be a way for one to ease into this process, such as looking over the person’s fiduciaries. These are people like the executor or trustee who often influence legal proceedings of a person’s asset distribution. If the spouse of the dying has any need to change those designations, it should be high on the to-do list. Second is looking over both assets and any existing trusts. The spouse needs to know whether there are any accounts or properties that he or she cannot access, and act accordingly.

Some estates will go through an extensive probate process, so it is best if the living spouse prepares for that event as much as possible. A will’s provisions will often determine how involved probate gets, so reading and understanding the will can help. For assets that have specific beneficiaries, the living spouse should look over those designations to make sure they know what they are and if they need to be updated.

Watching a loved one die can be an isolating experience, and a spouse may understandably not have estate planning matters top of mind at this time. One thing that may ease that burden is working with an attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney here in California can manage several of the legal concerns that spouses may have, freeing them up to focus on their loved one as they pass from this life.

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