Estate planning continues after the death of a spouse

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2017 | Estate Planning

For people in Minnesota concerned about the future of their homes, a detailed estate plan can be an essential part of planning for homeownership. Many couples own their homes as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, meaning that each person will take on the full ownership of the property if the other passes away. This is a particularly common form of shared property for married couples as it allows many families’ primary asset to transfer without engaging the home in probate, protecting both parties’ interest in the home.

However, some situations can be more complicated, particularly if one of the property owners becomes incapacitated and the second one passes away. Many estate plans assume that the spouse who remains alive after the other dies will take action to handle the property and deal with passing it on to heirs. This can be difficult if the survivor is incompetent or needs a guardian, reducing their ability to correctly will or transfer the property in the event of their own death.

Another type of situation arises when the property is not included in the estate plan for both partners because of the right of survivorship. While this works well while at least one of the two parties is alive, upon the death of the second person, if there are no provisions for the property, it will pass according to state law. This property can also be willed according to the wishes of the surviving spouse but will be subject to probate. A critical part of an estate plan can include non-probate transfers like transfer on death deeds.

Estate planning for a family does not stop after the death of one spouse; on the contrary, it can become even more important. An estate planning lawyer can help couples, widows and widowers to develop and revise estate plans that protect assets and provide the easiest and most secure means to transfer them upon death to heirs in a way that reflects the property owner’s desires and interests.