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Which Documents Should a Widow or Widower Review After the Loss of a Spouse?

Most older married couples have their estate plans connected to one another. This calls for an evaluation of all of these estate planning materials when a husband or wife passes away. Many of these documents may be invalid and leave you without an important safety net if the primary person named on them was your now deceased spouse.

Finding an experienced estate planning attorney who has an understanding of the sensitivities involved in this process is extremely important for navigating your new life. There are a few different kinds of documents that should all be reevaluated after losing your spouse. These include:

  • A medical power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy, which determines who can make end of life and medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated
  • Existing durable powers of attorney because you most likely named your spouse as the person to have legal authority to handle financial matters if you’re unable to do so
  • Last will and testaments, which might include significant language passing on many of your assets to your now deceased spouse
  • Medical release forms that only named your spouse
  • Beneficiary designation forms that retirement companies and life insurance policies
  • Any other estate planning materials

Given that you likely tied together your estate plan with your spouse, it is time to reconsider who you wish to make important decisions for you, take actions for you and who you want to receive your assets if something happens to you. All of these goals can be accomplished with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer. We can help you navigate this difficult transition.


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