Your loved one just died–what should you do now?

We recognize that this is a very difficult time for you and your family having just lost a loved one.  The process to administer an estate after a loved one dies can seem overwhelming.  For some clients, the stress of meeting with the attorney shortly after the passing is too much.  For others, they feel reassured to start the legal process, often while other family members are in the area.  We are available to meet with you to discuss the basic steps of the estate administration either immediately after the passing or within the first month.  We recommend that the first meeting be within the first month of the passing.

Although you do not need to meet with us immediately, there are some decisions which have to be made immediately.  The questions most often asked are: “How do I get death certificates? and How many death certificates do I need?”  Typically the funeral home will assist you with obtaining death certificates.  It is important to review the form with the submitted death certificate information.  Of particular importance are the spellings of names, and the decedent’s social security number.  For most estates, at least five (5) certified death certificates are needed, and often we recommend that ten (10) be requested.  The exact number will depend on the types of assets the decedent owned and the process which will be used to administer the estate.  Should you find you need more death certificates later, we can assist you with ordering more from the county.

The process to administer a deceased person’s estate will depend on the type of Estate Planning documents the decedent had.  If the decedent had no documents or just a will, the estate will most likely need to pass through Probate.  If the decedent had a living or revocable trust, then a Trust Administration will need to be commenced.  The estate administration process depends not only on the type of documents, but also the type of assets the decedent owned.

At the first meeting, we will request that you bring the originals of all estate planning documents, as well as a certified death certificate. The type of estate planning documents will dictate the process required to administer the estate, as well as the type of assets and the title of those assets.   In order to review the type of estate administration work which will be necessary, we will need copies of all asset statements which cover or are as close to the date of death as possible.  Information relating to life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities and other assets which may have named beneficiaries should also be provided.  Upon review of all of the information, we can then provide you with the guidance necessary to administer the estate efficiently with the least amount of stress for you.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.