Life is fraught with certain inherent challenges, and perhaps none is more significant than that of the loss of a spouse.
If your husband or wife predeceases you the emotional aspects are something that no one can truly understand. We are not in any way trivializing this, but whether we like it or not there are certain practical matters that must be handled during these trying times.
When you are planning your estate you should consider the steps that you are going to have to take if you are the surviving spouse. The matter of estate administration is part of the equation, and you are going to have to get the wheels in motion.
If the decedent used a last will to express his or her final wishes the estate must pass through probate before inheritances are distributed. If a trust exists the process of trust administration must be initiated.
Most laypeople are not going to be probate experts or knowledgeable trust administrators. And even if you were particularly business savvy and apprised of the intricacies of probate law you are going to be in an emotional state, and you would probably rather defer these responsibilities to someone else.
Many people find that the best way to proceed is to address the matter of estate administration while planning the estate in the first place. Your attorney can advise you, and in many cases you can simply arrange for the lawyer who drew up the estate planning documents to assist with the postmortem process.
If you go this route you simply need to make a phone call to your attorney, and he or she will guide you with regard to the steps that must be taken to properly administer the estate.