When a person experiences the loss of a spouse, he or she may feel like life is less worth living. Therefore, when an individual passes soon after his or her life partner, it is referred to as “broken-heart syndrome.” This is what happened to former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away months after his wife did. There are estate planning lessons that Ohio residents and other can learn from this famous couple.

For instance, putting survivorship clauses into a will or trust could make it easier to settle both estates in one probate session. Individuals should also consider what would happen to assets after the first spouse passes. It is possible to have assets flow to the surviving spouse, or the assets could simply be passed down to children, grandchildren or other beneficiaries. After a spouse passes, the second should work quickly to put retirement assets into their own name.

This enables a child or other beneficiary to receive the money in the account. Otherwise, it will need to go through probate, and the money may not be eligible for specialized tax treatment. As with other assets, it may be possible to direct money in an IRA or 401(k) to go directly to a child or another beneficiary when the first spouse passes.

Ideally, individuals will engage in estate planning regardless of their marital status or how much they are worth. Doing so may make it easier to transfer assets or to account for situations that may happen either soon or far in the future. An attorney may work with a person to create or review documents. This may ensure that they meet a person’s needs and are still valid after major events like a move or a change in the tax law.