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How surviving spouses can avoid a post-death cash crunch

When a spouse dies, the survivor often has a liquidity problem for several months following the death. The surviving spouse usually is a woman, although not always. Whether a widow or a widower, Nevada residents can avoid cash flow problems when their spouse dies if they plan ahead.

Avoiding limited resources

A spouse’s death, even when expected following a long illness, puts a lot of stress on cash assets. While many people have a durable power of attorney in place that allows a spouse to access investment and other accounts when a spouse is incapacitated, that estate planning document expires upon death. Social Security payments for the deceased person will also end.

Several steps can avoid these cash flow problems. Pay attention to how your bank and investment accounts are titled. Married couples should ensure they are co-owners of their accounts and not just have access to them. The latter can block access to an account until the estate process finalizes. Another way to prevent cash flow problems is through a life insurance policy. Senior citizens often hear that they don’t need one, but having even a small one can help with funeral and other post-mortem expenses.

Review your estate plan

As you age, your wishes on asset distribution to your heirs may change. Consider reviewing your estate plan every few years to ensure that beneficiaries for various assets are accurate. At the same time, review the names on all accounts to ensure liquidity following a spouse’s death.

Other estate planning tools may give you access to assets after your spouse’s death. Consider creating living trusts that specify how the money will be distributed. Having a variety of estate planning documents in place can help surviving spouses pay their bills following the death of their wife or husband.