When a spouse passes away, whether in Ohio or elsewhere, the initial legal concerns appropriately lie with administration of the estate for the recently deceased. It is often forgotten, however, that the surviving spouse typically needs an estate planning checkup as well due to the changed circumstances. A grieving spouse may simply not place priority on wills, trusts and other estate planning essentials, but doing so can circumvent a lot of confusion and hassle for future heirs if properly addressed.
In addition to considering potentially revised heirs and assets to be inherited, some essential documents should be updated that could come into play before death. Couples often execute estate plans together and make each other the designated power of attorney and healthcare proxy in the event of medical emergency. If the designated person has passed, or it leaves an absence regarding a secondary choice, prudence mandates revisiting these documents. Likewise, it is important to execute proper health and medical record release forms to document the potential need for a healthcare proxy or other eventuality.
If a spouse dies and leaves surviving children in a blended family, attention must be paid to the remaining estate plans related to the children of the deceased. Without proper wording, stepchildren could be forgotten if the surviving spouse is the sole heir and leaves everything to his or her biological kin. The death of a spouse should also bring attention to life insurance policies and investment accounts requiring beneficiaries. While there may be a secondary beneficiary listed that gets bumped up the list, an additional secondary beneficiary may need to be appointed.
Estate planning is rarely an exciting prospect, but it is an act of diligence that makes things much easier after death for surviving loved ones. Consulting a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney may help provide comfort and peace of mind regarding all end-of-life decisions.