Estate planning is a long-term process, and this is one of the reasons why you should think in terms of developing an ongoing working relationship with your estate planning attorney from the start. Things change in your life, and invariably these changes are going to call for estate plan updates.
Some of the changes are quite positive, such as additions to the family or an improved financial standing. Unfortunately, others are necessary because someone that you love passes away.
When you lose your spouse you are going to have to reevaluate your existing estate plan, but you also have to work up a financial plan for the rest of your life because the dynamic is suddenly quite different.
There are various things to take into consideration, including possible estate tax liability, potential future incapacity, final arrangements, and of course you have to create a logical budget for yourself.
One of the first things that you should do once you are emotionally capable of handling hand-to-mouth tasks would be to gather up all relevant financial information including bank and brokerage account statements, insurance policies, etc.
You will also want to gain an understanding of the debts that you have outstanding. You can combine your debits and credits on to a single balance sheet called a statement of net worth and bring this along to your estate planning consultation.
It can be overwhelming for some people to try to sort everything out after the death of a spouse. Experienced estate planning attorneys understand this, and your lawyer will be well-equipped to assist you during this difficult time.