Making estate planning user friendly for a surviving spouse

Contemplating death is not something that most Delaware residents like to do. Even so, it is necessary in order to create an estate plan that fulfills their wishes and provides for their families. The estate planning process is made up of several parts, and missing one of them could cause complications for a surviving spouse. 

How assets are titled can also make a difference. If an individual wants to make sure that his or her spouse is able to live in the family residence after death, it might be beneficial to ensure that it is either titled jointly or held by a trust in which both spouses are beneficiaries. Who is listed on the beneficiary designations of retirement accounts and insurance policies will also need to be reviewed and verified periodically. Regardless of what a will says, these accounts are distributed in accordance with these forms. 

With the advances in technology, most people have accounts that are only online. It is essential to provide the other spouse with the usernames, passwords and any other information needed in order to access and manage those accounts. As many accounts as possible should be jointly owned as well in order to ensure that any funds in them are easily accessible and available after death. Both spouses should also be aware of the status of every asset and liability, income and budgetary expenses.  

The more user friendly an estate plan is, the less frustration and stress it will cause the surviving spouse when the time comes. Estate planning can be tailored to the desires of a Delaware resident and the needs of the family members being provided for in the documents. Even so, it will not matter how well the documents are drafted if steps are not taken to make sure that the surviving spouse has all of the crucial information. 

Source:, “How to prepare for loss of a spouse“, Mark Daly, Nov. 28, 2016



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