What Actions Must Surviving Spouses Take?

Actions by surviving spouse
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Certain actions should be taken after the death of a loved one.

Although death means the end of the life and responsibilities for the decedent, the responsibilities of others increase.

Often those who must take action are those who are closest to the person who died.

These duties can feel overwhelming in the midst of grief.

According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “A Checklist for What to Do (and NOT Do) After Someone Dies,” delaying certain actions is not wise.

Actions to updated estate planning should be taken by surviving spouses.
Taking actions after the death of a loved one is hard.

Often one spouse dies prior to the other.

When the deceased spouse has made the surviving spouse an heir, the widow or widower will need to retitle assets held jointly with or individually by the deceased spouse.

For older couples, the surviving spouse often dies within a couple of years after the first spouse with health declining rapidly.

Failing to take actions like retitling assets or updating estate planning documents can lead to greater complications for future heirs.

What can happen?

A husband and father dies.

The widow and mother makes phone calls and takes actions to gets affairs in order but misses a few assets.

After their mother dies, the children must sort through the messy estate.

Because of this, the adult children will need to go through a few more (or many more) steps.

By failing to transfer the assets to herself after the death of her husband, the mother has unintentionally made her own estate more difficult to settle.

If your spouse has died recently, talk with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure you have take the appropriate actions to retitle your assets and update your estate planning documents.

Your family will appreciate your thoroughness.

Reference: Kiplinger (Aug. 24, 2022) “A Checklist for What to Do (and NOT Do) After Someone Dies”

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