Losing a spouse is a traumatic experience that naturally produces strong feelings. What is worse, added to the loss and grief is the sudden recognition that “the estate” must be dealt with.
After caring for your spouse’s remains you will receive an official death certificate from the funeral director who assisted you. This is an important document for administering the estate and it is advisable to get at least two of these certificates.
If all of your spouse’s assets and liabilities are held jointly with you, your tasks to administer the estate may be relatively straight-forward and not take too long to handle. For example, using the death certificate, you can quickly remove your spouse’s name from joint bank and investment accounts.
Other common points to consider include:
- Inquire if you qualify for a survivor pension or death benefit from your spouse’s employment or pension plan.
- Discuss your spouse’s final income tax returns with an accountant.
- If there is jointly-held real estate, update the land title (you may enlist the help of a lawyer with this).
- Review your own estate plan, including will, power of attorney, and representation agreement.
This article assumes the deceased was primarily resident in British Columbia. It is not a substitute for accounting and legal advice.
Beacon Law Centre offers surviving spouses a no-obligation initial consultation. This provides an opportunity to discuss your situation in a safe and confidential setting, to gain reassurance about the next steps needed, and to receive a quotation if further legal help is needed.