5 Steps to Take after a Loved One Dies
If you are grieving the recent loss of a spouse or other loved one, you are likely dealing with a mix of emotions that include grief, anxiety, and confusion. Handling funeral arrangements, final bills, and end-of-life health care costs can intensify and prolong the mourning process.
This is where an experienced probate and estate planning attorney can provide assistance and peace of mind. By helping you identify the proper steps to take after a loved one’s death, your lawyer can ease the burdens that accompany wrapping up your loved one’s estate.
1. Contact a Probate and Estate Planning Attorney
Contact a knowledgeable probate and estate planning lawyer. Many people hesitate to call an attorney because they think it will be too expensive. Because the cost of the estate administration, including attorney’s fees, come from the estate’s assets, neither the personal representative nor the beneficiaries need to pay any costs from their own funds.
It’s also important to work with a lawyer if you have been named as the decedent’s personal representative (executor or administrator). Because the law imposes strict legal and financial obligations on personal representatives, it’s important to work with a skilled attorney who can help you fulfill your fiduciary responsibilities without incurring any personal liability.
2. Get Copies of the Death Certificate
Most financial institutions, utilities, retirement administrators, and creditors will not discuss a decedent’s account information without proof of the decedent’s passing. As a personal representative, you must provide them with a death certificate to gain access to your loved one’s account information.
3. Gather Estate Planning Documents
This can be a big task, depending on your loved one’s level of organization. Gather all important legal documents, such as the last will and testament and trust documents.
4. Obtain Letters of Administration
Sometimes referred to as “letters testamentary”, letters of administration give the personal representative official legal authority to oversee the estate’s administration. The powers of administration include the right to settle debts, transfer property, pay final bills, close accounts, and distribute bequests and assets.
5. Gather Financial Documents
Identifying and gathering financial documents can be time-consuming, depending on whether your loved one maintained clear and easily accessible records. These documents help your lawyer get a clear picture of the estate’s assets and debts. A typical estate features the following financial documents:
· Credit card statements
· Utility bills
· Retirement statements
· Investment account statements
· Mortgage statements
· Tax returns
· Bank account statements
Once you have taken an inventory of the estate’s assets and debts, your attorney can help you pay final bills, transfer and sell real estate, distribute assets, and take care of other important last steps.
Minnesota Estate Planning and Probate Law Firm
To discuss your case, call the Minnesota probate and estate planning attorneys at Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates, LLC today our office.
This website has been prepared by Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates, LLC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.