Married couples typically share nearly every facet of their lives. However, even the most intimate partners may hesitate to broach certain subjects when discussing death. While discussions about burial arrangements and remarriage can be awkward, addressing them as integral components of crafting a thorough estate plan is essential. Estate planning is a profound gesture of care and consideration toward your spouse, ensuring their well-being even when you’re no longer present. Along with composing a thorough estate plan, here are four things your spouse should know:
Location of Important Documents
While some couples blend their finances, many prefer to separate their money. Even so, it’s not unusual for one spouse to assume responsibility for most financial affairs. When one spouse takes on the role of the primary financial manager, it can lead to challenges both in life and in the event of one’s passing. Therefore, couples must establish open communication and ensure they mutually understand their financial matters. Couples should share information about the whereabouts of crucial financial documents, including:
- Estate planning documents
- Loan documents
- Life insurance paperwork
- Financial account information
- Information for accessing digital accounts
A spouse is usually the first person to learn about their partner’s passing. Following this, there’s a sequence of individuals to contact. The surviving spouse will likely have a solid understanding of whom to notify and the order in which to contact them. However, don’t assume your spouse has stored these individuals’ phone numbers. For example, they may not have contact information for professional contacts or an employer. To ensure that any relevant contact information is accessible, it can be listed in a document for the spouse. Maintaining open communication with a spouse regarding relationship statuses, the appropriate contacts, and how to reach them are minor yet crucial aspects of estate planning.
One of the hardest things to discuss with your spouse is burial arrangements. However, following a spouse’s burial preferences is a way to honor them. Burial arrangements extend far beyond the decision of traditional burial or cremation. If a person chooses cremation, they may want to have their ashes scattered in a meaningful place. There will also be many decisions pertaining to traditional burial, such as whether they would like an open casket. While conversations about burial, cremation, or organ donation may be uncomfortable, engaging in them provides both the deceased and the surviving spouse with the assurance that these deeply personal choices will be respected.
Nowadays, it is generally accepted that a widowed spouse is not doing wrong by remarrying. However, a spouse who passes away before their partner might be comfortable with their surviving spouse remarrying but may not wish to grant the new spouse access to their finances. Estate planning can play a vital role in preventing such a scenario. For example, employing a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust can ensure the financial well-being of a surviving spouse while safeguarding the inheritance of the deceased spouse’s children from any claims by the surviving spouse’s new partner.
Estate Planning Shows Love
We know that discussing death with your partner can be difficult. However, transparency about your wishes and a thorough estate plan is essential. Keeping your spouse informed regarding your estate plan is a testament to your commitment and dedication to your spouse’s well-being. A proper estate plan is a legacy of care that transcends time, embodying your enduring devotion to your loved one. Contact us today to get your estate plan started.