The death of a spouse is often a challenging experience. However, in addition to grief and mourning, many survivors quickly realize that loss can pose very practical complications, both to their finances and to their estate plans. Left unaddressed, any oversight or discrepancy in those plans could make it more difficult for surviving spouses to retain their independence in a time of unprecedented emotional turmoil.
The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has spent decades helping California families push through difficult times to honor a loved one’s legacy. Our experienced team of Los Angeles and Orange County estate planning attorneys could help you review and renew your estate plan, ensuring that your family remains protected against uncertainty.
Revising and Renewing Your Estate Plan
Married couples often name each other as beneficiaries in their respective wills, trusts, and insurance policies. After one spouse has passed away, many of these plans must be reviewed and amended. You should consider:
If your spouse played a leading role in managing family finances, you may need to make an exhaustive list of your joint holdings. These could include:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement plans
Creating an inventory is typically an unavoidable step in either administering the deceased person’s estate or in deciding which assets must be re-titled to their surviving spouse.
Although California is a community property state, many marital assets can still be titled as either individually owned or jointly owned. Widows and widowers may need to revise property deeds and motor vehicle titles to reflect that they are now sole owners.
Filing Insurance Claims
If you or your spouse had a life insurance policy, you may have a limited amount of time to file a claim. Be aware that it is possible your spouse may have had life insurance policies that you either did not know about or that were simply forgotten after a career change or retirement.
Many spouses name each other as beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement plans, and bank accounts. If you still have your own policies and accounts, you must review your beneficiary designations—otherwise, your preferred heirs may have a much harder time claiming their own inheritances.
Revising Your Estate Planning Documents
Since spouses figure so prominently in estate plans, you may also need to look over the following:
- Your will
- Your revocable living trust
- Your advance health care directive
- Your durable powers of attorney
- Other estate planning documents
The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. is committed to providing unparalleled estate planning services. If you need help understanding probate, planning an estate, or revising existing documents, we could help you obtain the resources you need to retain your independence and protect a partner’s legacy.