Losing a spouse can be a very difficult time. For many, the loss can also come with logistical concerns, including considerations about where to live, finances, and what to do about estate planning. The latter issue may be easier than expected to tackle, as California estate law clearly lays out the process and professionals are available to help review options. Here are some of the main considerations for widowed adults as they look into estate planning matters.
- Review accounts and death beneficiaries: Bank accounts with death beneficiaries can be a great way to avoid probate on major accounts. Often, people name their spouses on these accounts. Check to make sure a living beneficiary is named so the transition process can go more smoothly.
- Consider what may be worth passing on before passing away: Many people consider downsizing or changing their residence type after becoming widowed. This transition period may be a good time to ask children if there are family items they particularly want. Trusts and wills can also be reviewed during this time.
- Create or amend Power of Attorney documents: It is important to plan for who will make major decisions should something happen in the future. This planning is especially important for single or widowed individuals, as the spouse is the usual default POA. Make plans to have these documents put in place as soon as possible, in order to prevent confusion or issues later on.
This may seem overwhelming, especially for those who are newly widowed. But, in fact, for those who have some existing estate plans in place, it may just be a matter of tweaking things and having a few conversations with loved ones. Even those who are new to estate planning may find it to be manageable, especially with the help of an experienced California estate planning lawyer.