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A person who has just lost his or her partner has many things to think about. Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind in the throes of grief, a widow or widower in Arkansas really needs to pause to consider what steps need to take place in his or her own estate planning — to protect him or herself and any heirs, especially when those heirs are children. Not only does the will of the deceased need to be reviewed, the surviving spouse’s estate documents should also be reviewed and updated as soon as possible.

A widow or widower needs to ensure that documents in his or her estate plan are all-encompassing. They should at least include a durable power of attorney, a will, possibly trusts and a health care proxy. Just to note, if a health care proxy is not in place, a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release form will need to be signed.

It is possible that the deceased spouse was named in a power of attorney for the surviving spouse and likely on other documents as well. If an alternate individual was named, it should be re-evaluated as to whether the person is still a good choice. Another person might be named as an alternate choice.

No one who is grieving wants to think about handling the legalities of estate planning, but doing so as soon as possible may relieve some of the anxiety or uncertainty of the future. A compassionate Arkansas attorney will be able to sit down with a surviving spouse to discuss how to best update current planning documents. Once this important task is taken off the list of to do things, a widow or widower may have peace of mind knowing his or her heirs will be looked after.