There are multiple legal documents Florida residents will have to review and update immediately after their spouse dies. While they may not feel inclined to do so while they are grieving, updating the documents is necessary so that they will be protected during their lifetime and their own wishes are honored if they should become incapacitated or die.
Durable powers of attorney are used to designate individuals to make financial decisions on behalf of other individuals who are no longer able to do so for themselves. Spouses tend to name each other as the attorney-in-fact in order for one spouse to be able to provide signatures on behalf of the other spouse.
After a spouse dies, surviving spouses will have to designate someone else as an attorney-in-fact. They will also have to decide whether the power of attorney can only be used if they become incapacitated or if it can be used by the attorney-in-fact at any time. In situations in which the power of attorney is not updated or in place and surviving spouses no longer have the ability to sign for themselves, it will be necessary to go to court, which can be expensive and cause delays.
Surviving spouses also need to review and update their own wills and trusts. It may be necessary to alter to whom certain assets should go. For example, an adult child may have need of certain financial assets due to going through a divorce or experiencing financial difficulties.
An attorney who practices estate planning law may consider the estate and goals of clients and recommend which types of legal documents should be completed to create an effective estate plan. Assistance may be provided with completing certain types of wills and making sure powers of attorney are in place.