The personal cost of failing 
to make plans when you can

Too often, we meet with a recently widowed spouse who knows little or nothing about their estate plan. Usually it is a surviving wife, and she is very frightened.

Anyone can understand how difficult it must be to deal with the challenges and emotions of losing a spouse. There may be no lonelier time in that person’s life. It must be especially painful at that time to carry the additional burden of not knowing what will happen next. 

■ “What is going to happen to what we spent a lifetime building?”

■“How long/expensive will that process be?”

■ “How do I even begin?”

We have received phone calls soon after a spouse passing, asking these questions. What a terrible additional burden to carry at that painful time. We are convinced that if someone could see what their spouses go through, they would never allow that to happen, especially because it is so easily preventable.

The experience is very different for the couple who has met with us before someone passes. Of course, the grieving is still there, but the fear about these questions is not. The surviving spouse knows what is going to happen, even if they may (or may not) need some assistance to make it happen. Even if all they have done is to become more educated about the process, there is much less reason to fear. The focus can be on the intensely personal feelings that matter most at that difficult time. 

“Doing nothing” is never a good estate plan. It is not solving anything, and too often is simply heaping on the surviving spouse more difficulties that must now be handled alone. Do not let this happen to your loved one. Find out about the issues that you and your spouse should be discussing.

Garrett Forsgren is a local attorney who provides free estate planning presentations. His office can be reached at 970-245-8021 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Steve Wright is an attorney in Idaho Springs, Idaho.


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