The death of a spouse is one of the most life altering events you will experience. Beyond the sense of loss and the grief you naturally feel, there is a gauntlet of responsibilities. Even if all the arrangements have already been made and the estate is well planned, there are many tasks large and small. You may find yourself running a gamut of emotions in the period immediately following the death. You may smile or even laugh at the most solemn moments and burst into tears at recollections of a cherished secret.
Even if you are not the executor of the estate, you will be involved. It is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. You will be in regular contact with your estate planner and other members of your financial team. There will undoubtedly be some paperwork involved. As the estate is closed out, including the probate process, you will return to what passes for normal.
Once the estate has been passed along and any liabilities have been cleared you should consider planning your own estate. Your existing last will very likely listed your spouse as a beneficiary. Assets will need to be reallocated to the remaining heirs. Issues such as guardianship or care of the family pets may need to be reconsidered.
This is probably one of the most difficult periods of your life. Your decision making process is at a fraction of its full power. You may choose not to make any plan that you cannot change. It is your prerogative. You can always update your new estate plan. It is important to have one to change.