Reviewing Your Estate Plan after the Death of a Loved One

An unexpected or sudden death can be especially hard to come to terms with and you need time to grieve and live through that loss Once you feel up to it, it could be a good idea to update your estate plan if this loved one was a part of it.

One of the main objectives of having a will or an RLT prepared is for you to legally state in writing what will happen to your estate at your death. Because you may have strong feelings about who should receive the money and property, it is essential to consider who should receive them if your first choice dies before you. Was your loved one any of the following:

Personal representative (executor): This trusted individual, appointed in your last will and testament, is responsible for collecting all your accounts and property, paying your outstanding debts, and distributing your money and property to your named heirs. If this person dies before you you will have to decide who is next in line to take this role. 

Co-trustee or successor trustee of your RLT: Serving either with you (co-trustee) or after you (successor trustee), this trusted person or entity is charged with managing, investing, and distributing the money and property from your RLT to you during your lifetime and to your chosen beneficiaries after your death. If your deceased loved one was a co-trustee, review your trust agreement to see what happens next. There may be a provision that either allows you to continue serving as sole trustee, names a specific person to step in and serve with you, or describes how to determine who your new co-trustee will be. 

Agent under a financial or medical power of attorney: Your agent is an individual you choose to carry out financial transactions (such as signing a check or opening a bank account) on your behalf. If the person you selected is deceased and there is no named backup, no one else has authority to act on your behalf. If you become incapacitated, your loved ones will have to go to court and have someone legally selected to take care of your financial matters. This can prove an expensive and time consuming process.

Your medical power of attorney will act only in the event you cannot make decisions or communicate your medical wishes, you may not feel an immediate need to revise your medical power of attorney. The judge will look to state law in choosing the appropriate person, who may not be the person you would have chosen. Second, the selected person may not share your views about your medical care. 

Guardian for your minor child: If you are the only living parent or if the other legal parent is unfit to care for your minor child and your chosen guardian predeceases you, the probate court will look to state law to determine who is next in line to raise your child. 


When you are feeling ready, Music City Estate Law in Franklin, TN is here to help you take the next step in your estate planning journey, whether you are starting, completing, or updating your estate plans. Give us a call to schedule your in-person or virtual appointment today.

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