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Take these steps to protect your spouse after your death

A lot of estate planning centers around protecting your loved ones after you are no longer here with them. However, it's easy to overlook a few simple -- but very important -- things that you can do to protect your spouse and family if you are the one who handles the family finances.

A lot of couples divide up the household tasks -- leaving one person with the primary responsibility of handling the money. There's nothing wrong with that. However, if you die, your spouse could be left adrift. To prevent that, take the following steps:

Introduce your spouse to any professionals involved

Do you use a financial adviser? What about an attorney's services? If your spouse hasn't already met them, it's time to make the introductions.

Make sure your spouse knows the people that he or she can rely on if you aren't there. You don't want your spouse to be meeting these people for the first time while coping with the stress of your death. Having a least some familiarity with them will make it emotionally easier to lean on them for guidance.

Make sure your spouse has knowledge of all your holdings

This means making sure that your spouse is actively aware of everything that you have -- and how he or she can access those things once you are gone.

Whether it is a safety deposit box or a cache of cyrptocurrency, your spouse will need to know where these items are located and what keys or passwords are used to get into them. Consider putting together a list of online memberships and accounts (including social media) and their passwords for your spouse to use.

Review your beneficiary designations

Every year, do a review of all your retirement plans, life insurance policies, annuities and more to make sure that the beneficiaries are correct. Things change over the years and it's easy to forget to change something out of one person's name and into another's.

No matter what other estate planning tasks you must fulfill, these three steps alone can provide a framework for good habits that will keep your heirs secure, year after year.

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