Gentreo Life Events: Why You Should Update Your Documents After a Death in the Family

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family gathered around a grave for funeral service

Whether it is expected or not, dealing with a death in the family is never an easy process. This life event is a lot to handle, and at Gentreo we understand that it can be an emotionally difficult time for you and your loved ones. Between funeral arrangements, coordinating with family and loved ones, and handling any estate plans for the deceased, it can be easy to forget about their impact on your own estate plan. If your late family member was designated in any way in your own estate plan, it is important that the necessary changes are made to protect yourself for the future. 

If you previously included your deceased loved one in your estate planning documents and don’t update them after their death, your wishes could be in jeopardy if something were to happen to you later. If your deceased loved one were designated as an executor of your Will or had legal authority if you were incapacitated, such as a Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, you would not have anyone legally prepared to handle these tasks. In a time sensitive situation where you need someone to make any medical decisions quickly, you and your specific health care treatment wishes may not be upheld. Similarly, if your deceased family member was a beneficiary of your estate, their inheritance may be designated elsewhere. Any of these situations could require court intervention, adding additional stress to your family during grief stricken times and putting your wishes at risk. 

We know that protecting yourself and your loved ones is a priority, which is why keeping your estate plan updated is incredibly important. According to a 2016 survey conducted by USLegalWills.com, 8.6% of Americans have a Will that isn’t up-to-date. Combined with the 63% who have no Will at all, over 70% of Americans do not have a Will ready and available. We cannot predict the future, but we can plan for it, and taking the steps needed to update your estate plan plays an important role in ensuring your family and future are protected. Through Gentreo, these steps are made easy and affordable so that you can spend less time worrying about the future and more time focusing on the present.

Steps to Take to Update Your Estate Plan After the Death of a Loved One

Update Your Will

Your Will ensures that all of your wishes for your estate and assets are upheld after you pass away, however there are some situations which can unfortunately interfere with the process. If one of your loved ones passed away but was included in your Will as either a beneficiary or as an executor, you would lose your right to choose who takes their place if you passed away before updating your Will. By updating this critical estate planning document, you are assuring that it will be handled exactly how you would have wanted, without the need for legal intervention.

Update Your Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy - also known as a Power of Attorney for Health Care - is both an estate document and a person who is designated by your estate plan to make all health care decisions for you in the event that you were incapacitated and couldn’t make those decisions yourself. If your Health Care Proxy were to pass away and you didn’t nominate a secondary or tertiary successor, you would be left with nobody to make your medical decisions. A court would have to appoint someone to serve as your guardian, which may not be someone you would want. This could interfere with you receiving timely care, and may not follow your wishes for the type of care you would want to receive.

Update Your Power of Attorney

Similarly to a Health Care Proxy, a Power of Attorney ensures that your financial decisions can be made if you were unable to make these decisions yourself. A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to pay bills and handle your finances, preventing you from financial risk while you are incapacitated. If your Power of Attorney has passed away, courts would have to decide who would manage your finances, taking your wishes out of the process and leaving you at financial risk.

Update Your Other Documents

There are many other ways that loved ones can be included in an estate plan, and it is important that you make all of the necessary changes to ensure that court intervention isn’t needed. For example, if you had a Pet Power of Attorney or Pet Trust in place and your late loved one was involved in the caretaking process, you would want to make sure you assign a new caretaker, as your pet would have no protection if you were to pass away. Your loved one may also be listed as a Trustee or beneficiary in your Revocable Living Trust, or as an emergency contact on your Emergency Card.

A death in the family is an unfortunate life event, and with it comes many life changes. At Gentreo, we know that protecting yourself and your family is the number one priority, and want to make sure that you have all the resources needed to ensure that you are prepared for anything. Gentreo makes it easy and affordable to create, update, and store your estate documentation. With the Gentreo Digital Family Vault, everyone knows where to turn in the event of an emergency and instant access is always just a few clicks away. Sign up today to get peace of mind and give your loved ones the protection they deserve. 

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