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If you are married or in a permanent relationship, instead of only drafting a will, it is necessary for you to understand how your marital property administration will affect the distribution of your assets after your demise. Also, if you are staying with your partner but doesn’t lie in the category of being a spouse and thus the planned inheritance could also get impacted. Further, if you don’t understand this impact it can cause you a lot of financial problems like inability to pay taxes and debts, forced assets’ sale and insufficient allowance for the surviving spouse.

Estate Planning-

The people, who are married, as well as homo and heterosexual people living together that are recognized permanent by the state law. Hence, if you are staying together in a long-term relationship and don’t know if you fall in the category of spouse then you must have signed affidavits that provide permanence. It is required so that the family members can’t claim the property that you have provided for your spouse. Also, if in case the surviving spouse hasn’t been adequately provided, he/she can claim from your estate for survival.

If you are the surviving spouse, then you need to attend a few matters that we have listed below in a timely fashion and after a death certificate has been issued.

Identifying where and to whom the financial assets has been bestowed:- If you are the death beneficiary of the accounts of your spouse who has expired then after receiving the death certificate of your spouse, you need to contact all such financial institutions where your spouse has accounts, informing them about his or her demise. You have to provide a copy of the death certificate to these financial institutions so that they could proceed further in transferring the accounts to your name or updating the account registration to report the demise of your spouse. However, you need to ensure that you are the beneficiary and can access those accounts.

Apart from this while the paperwork is being done, you also need to ensure to update your pay on death beneficiary so that after your demise your account will have an owner or purpose to fulfil. Once you have rollover or inherited your spouse’s retirement accounts and are handling your own retirement account at a financial institution then you must review and update the pay-on-death beneficiary for all such accounts. It might sound hectic, however, it is really essential and you can start with your account that’s holding the larger value and moving further to the accounts with smaller values.

If in case, you are not allowed by a financial institution to access the accounts of your dead spouse maybe because it was owned only by him/her or there is no pay-on-death beneficiary assigned by him/her, then you need to proceed for the title clearing procedure like a probate, property petition or a small estate affidavit. However, the procedure you opt for solely depends on the monetary value of the account and if there is a will or trust left by your spouse. It is highly recommended to consult with an estate planning attorney to check out for the best procedure to tackle the difficulties with account transfers.

Check for the property mutually owned: If both of you have a property that is jointly owned with right of survivorship then, you need to inform the county recorder where the property lies about the death of your spouse along with the death certificate. Also after being the complete owner of such property, it is advised to set up a living trust so that your property will not have to face probate after your death. In case, the property was already vested in a trust upon the death of your spouse, then you are required to check with the trust administration attorney what you need to do in connection with the trust upon the death of your spouse.

Apart from this, the county assessor’s office must be reported about the death of your spouse who was the property owner for all the home and real estate kind of properties through the forms which are available online at the assessor’s websites. However, you can also seek assistance for this from your estate planning attorney.

Updating registration of the vehicles owned: After the death of your spouse it is required to update the ownership of the vehicles that were owned by him/her to reflect the owners that are alive. You need to contact the insurance company regarding the insurance for your vehicle and reach the auto club to get assured that the title has been cleared.

Review and update or replace your estate planning documents: Estate planning documents in which you have authorized or designated your spouse need to be updated so that your property along with medical and financial decision-making authority will not have to face probate. If your deceased spouse has been named first by you, then the secondary agents will firstly have to explain and prove that your spouse has been dead and hence, they are authorized to take financial and medical decisions for you in case of your incapacity.

Cancellation of debit and credit cards of the deceased spouse: If there are accounts that have been solely owned by your deceased spouse then you need to cancel all the cards credit or debit related to those accounts to avoid any kind of fraudulent charges later.

The aforementioned tasks are mandatorily required to be done to avoid any small or big problems that might come into your way. It is always better to fix these problems as soon as possible instead of leaving a mess for your children.