When a loved one passes away, the grief doesn’t go away after the burial. This is especially true for surviving spouses who have most likely spent the majority of their life living with, and caring for the deceased.

While life may return to normal for the rest of the family, the surviving spouse is often left with a houseful of memories which tend to prolong the grief that they may be experiencing.

And along with prolonged depression and sadness, the surviving spouse may now also be experiencing self-care issues and a lack of independence. This is undoubtedly hard to watch, but when it happens, it’s important to evaluate whether or not the surviving spouse is still fit to live alone.

As an Orange County wills and estates lawyer, I help families on a regular basis who are dealing with this same issue. That is why I have put together a list of questions to help determine whether a surviving spouse is capable of staying in the home, or if it is better for them to live elsewhere:

– Can the person get up and down stairs without assistance?

– Is using the restroom or bathing difficult without someone there?

– Can the person cook for him or herself?

– Will the cleanliness of the home suffer if this person lives alone?

– How will the home maintenance be handled?

– Is there someone to care for the yard and garden?

– If the person were to fall and injure themself inside the home, is there a way for them to get immediate medical attention (for example, does this person wear an emergency call button necklace)?

– Will living alone hinder the person’s recovery from grief?

– Is transportation readily available?

These are tough questions to ask, especially if the person is used to being independent.  However, these issues must be addressed as the family will need time to legally and financially prepare for long-term care.

If you are now in this position and not sure of the best way to proceed, contact our Orange County estate planning office by calling (949) 260-1400.  With the mention of this article, you can come in for a Family Wealth Planning Session (normally $750) absolutely free of charge.  However, these sessions are limited to 10 per month so call today.