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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Estate Planning to Prepare for the Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse can be emotionally overwhelming. In addition to the grief, the surviving spouse may be overwhelmed by the financial decisions and requirements of handling an estate. When a deceased spouse handled all the family finances, it can be difficult for a surviving spouse to take over this role. If a person did not have an estate plan, it could make the job much more complicated and stressful.

You can spare your spouse some of this worry and stress by creating an estate plan. Our Florida estate planning attorney suggests these estate planning tips for preparing for a spouse’s death.

Execute a Last Will and Testament

After your death, your spouse needs to probate your estate. Without a will, the probate process could be much more difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Your spouse might not have access to money and property if you do not have a will.

Through your will, you can appoint your spouse to serve as your personal representative. Your will gives your spouse the authority to pay bills, secure property, and manage assets until the estate is finalized. You also choose who receives your property and in what amount. Florida’s intestate laws make that decision for you if you do not have a will.

Purchase Sufficient Life Insurance

Life insurance can be one of the most effective ways to ensure that your spouse has the money to pay bills and living expenses after your death. Your life insurance proceeds are paid directly to your beneficiary. They do not pass through your estate. Therefore, your spouse can quickly receive these proceeds after your death and use the proceeds for whatever your spouse might need.

Create a List of Online Accounts

Accessing online accounts can be impossible without logins and passwords. Create and regularly update a list of online accounts, especially financial accounts, with their current logins and passwords. Keep this list in a secure location. Place a letter with your will that tells your spouse where to locate this list if your spouse forgets.

Execute a Power of Attorney

Make sure that you have a plan in case you become incapacitated. A Durable General Power of Attorney gives your spouse the authority to make financial decisions for you. The authority ends upon your death.

You may also want to consider executing a Living Will and other health care directives. Even though your spouse may have the authority to make health care decisions for you, outlining those decisions can make the process easier and less stressful.

Make Plans for Your Funeral

Some individuals prefer to prepay their funeral expenses so that their spouse does not need to worry about this expense. Writing out directions for your funeral, such as whether or not you want to be cremated and your preferences for a service makes it easier for your spouse. It can be difficult for some people to make these decisions while they are grieving.

Create a List of Household Information

Taking care of a household alone can be overwhelming. In most marriages, the spouses divide these duties. One spouse might not have any idea of what the other spouse takes care of to keep the household running smoothly.

Leaving a list of helpful information can make it easier for your spouse to manage the household alone. For example, a list of repair companies and contact numbers can be very helpful if you are the person who takes care of those things when something goes wrong. Notes about when to change air conditioner filters, what filters are needed, and where to purchase filters can be useful.

Contact a Florida Estate Planning Attorney for Help

Preparing for death is never a comfortable topic. However, the steps you take now to create an estate plan can protect your loved ones and make it easier for them to move forward after your death. Our Florida estate planning attorney can help you identify your estate planning goals and take steps to ensure you meet those goals. Contact our office today.


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The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A. assists clients in Florida, including North Pinellas County, Palm Harbor, Trinity, West Pasco County, and the surrounding areas.



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