3 Estate Planning Tips for Widows and Widowers

Dec 7, 2011

Being single again is a shock for most widows and widowers; it changes everything, including your estate planning needs.  If your spouse has died, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney and implement these 3 tips for widows and widowers.

  1. 1.       Update Your Estate Plan

Your goals, needs, and finances have likely changed since the death of your spouse.  This means that your estate plan needs to be updated.  In addition, because your spouse was likely your primary trusted helper, you need to name new trusted helpers.   Trusted helpers are executors, trustees, power of attorney agents, and guardians for minor children.

  1. 2.       Determine How Your Assets are Owned

Determine how each of your assets are owned and how they should be owned with your estate planning attorney.  If you previously owned assets such as your home or financial accounts in joint names, re-title them in the name of your own revocable living trust.

If you’ve inherited assets from your spouse in trust, absolutely keep them in trust.  These assets have asset protection, meaning they can’t be taken from you in a lawsuit and will keep your children from being unintentionally disinherited.  Potential lawsuit creditors include a bankruptcy trustee, future divorcing spouse, unhappy client, or car accident injured person.

In addition, NEVER put your assets in joint names with a new spouse.  If you die first, your new spouse will inherit, no matter what your will or trust says, and your children will be DISINHERITED.

  1. 3.       Don’t Lend Money to a New Friend or Spouse

When you fall in love again, do not lend money to a new friend or spouse.  Even though your intentions will be good, you need to keep the money in trust for your future and your children’s future.  If your friend or spouse’s business plan isn’t strong enough to get institutional lending, it’s not strong enough for you to invest in it.

Widows and widowers, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.


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