Few spouses are thinking clearly after they lose their partner. Yet, it is usually at that time when many major financial and legal decisions must be analyzed and made by the grieving widow or widower. Our New York estate planning lawyers know that families are able to provide much relief at this difficult time by preparing ahead. As a Wall Street Journal story this week explained, proper estate planning not only eases stress for the surviving spouse, but it also may prevent legal and financial mistakes being made by that spouse in the immediate aftermath of the death which could be impossible to undo down the road.
For example, some grieving widows and widowers believe that they have little need for insurance benefits following the tragedy. However, as one professional in the field explained, “if you have been living on income from two people, you should get an idea of what your monthly expenses are before you’re magnanimous with the money you just received.” In addition, many individuals make quick decisions about the sale of a home or the transfer of other valuable assets without fully considering the long-term effect of those actions.
Following a death in our area it is vital for families to contact a New York estate plan lawyer to receive assistance with the wide variety of tasks that must be completed. The estate transfer process can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if professionals are not consulted and mistakes are made. For example, pension plans need to be notified of the death. Those involved have to determine what debts of the deceased must be paid and which do not need to be paid. Survivors must also be cognizant of what funds they can use to pay for expenses after the death. Sometimes a spouse may have been using a power of attorney to write checks out of the deceased’s account. That authority ends at death, which means that the survivor may not technically have the authority to access the funds.
The aftermath of a loved one’s passing is always a wrenching time, and survivors should never try to sort through these financial and legal details on their own in the middle of that grieving process. Proper planning while both spouses are still alive can go a long way to ease the stress of this time. Not only that, but as the story notes, in the aftermath of the death, “just as crucial is the support of trusted family and friends, along with expert advisors and support groups.” Trusted financial and legal professionals can help prevent the grieving family from making choices that they may regret down the road.
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