What should I know before the death of my spouse?

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

We know that talking about our better half’s death is an impossible conversation. But, in truth, it is a conversation every couple needs to have before one passes. And, if a couple plans appropriately, the surviving spouse can focus on grieving, instead of logistics.

If an estate plan has not been done, do it now

Remember, the key is planning now, before the unthinkable happens. If one does not already have an estate plan, create one now. If the couple does not have an estate attorney, CPA or some other fiduciary to help with an estate plan, get one. Especially for high net-worth couples, this can be imperative.

Bills, bills, bills

Make sure that there is a full list of all the bills that need to be paid. Missing bill payments can not only hurt one’s credit, but also result in real consequences, like shut off electricity, disconnected phones, reprocessed cars, foreclosed properties, etc. And, remember that both spouses need to be authorized users because some companies do not allow anyone other than an authorized user to pay bills.

Plan for cash

Depending on the financial institution, once they receive notice that an account holder has passed, the account will be frozen. In addition, payable on death accounts and insurance take time to process. This is why couples should plan now for how the surviving spouse will pay for bills during the probate process, including funeral and burial costs.

The key takeaway

For our Hanford, California, and throughout the Central Valley, readers, the key takeaway is to plan, and to plan now. Think about how one will survive if the other spouse passes. Be practical and logical because doing that now will be much easier to do than when we are dealing with the death of a loved one.

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