If you are the spouse that handles the finances, take my advice seriously. Don't frustrate yourself and cause your spouse unneeded stress. Do both of you a favor by finding a professional you trust and instructing them to guide your surviving spouse through the process once you're gone.
Does your family know what to do in the event of your passing? Have you tried preparing them, only to get blank stares and frustration in return?
Estate administration can go awry for a plethora of reasons. One key culprit is a failure to communicate.
Family members do not know what to do or what to expect. This is new territory for them.
When they do not know what to do, they make mistakes in administering the estate. When they do not know what inheritance to expect they sometimes get upset with what they get (or do not get!).
This problem is the reason many estate planning attorneys advise their clients to talk about their issues with family beforehand. Telling your family what to do and what to expect goes a long way to stopping any problems before they start.
However, many people are uncomfortable talking about their own death and many family members are uncomfortable with it as well.
Recently, an article in Forbes entitled "The Single Most Important -- And Unconventional -- Estate Planning Tip You Will Ever Get" suggested an alternative.
Instead of talking to your family, talk to a trusted professional who must maintain your confidences and secrets. Tell that professional everything that needs to be done.
Then give your family that professional's contact information, and the professional will be able to guide your family through the process when the time comes.
If you have a proper estate plan, then you already know a professional who can provide this service - your estate planning attorney.