The death of a loved one won’t just bring intense, adverse emotional reactions. It will also generate hundreds of hours’ worth of practical responsibilities in many cases.
Family members, especially those who anticipate serving as the executor or personal representative of an estate, will typically need to take certain steps shortly after someone dies. The right actions help ensure that they comply with state probate law and uphold the deceased person’s wishes.
Performing the three steps below can protect someone’s legacy and reduce the possible issues that may arise during probate proceedings.
Locate the most recent estate plan
Sometimes, people make changes to their estate plan without telling their family members. They could even have several sets of documents that contradict each other.
Ensuring that you have the most recent estate planning documents will be crucial both for the process of cooperating with the probate courts and of distributing the property to the beneficiaries of the estate. Some people may even reach out to the lawyer who helped create the documents to verify if there have been changes made since then or new documents added to the estate plan.
Secure and inventory the property
Even before you go to probate court to start the estate administration process, you have to think about protecting the property that belongs to the estate. Strangers who learned about the death and family members who want certain assets could target the deceased person’s residence and try to misappropriate their assets.
Securing their property may include removing some of it for safekeeping, changing the locks on real property and documenting exactly what was in someone’s possession when they died.
Notify the family members and probate courts
The chances are good that most of the likely beneficiaries of the estate already know that the testator recently died. It is crucial that you locate and contact every potential beneficiary and provide them with information about the estate plan.
You also need to notify the probate courts to begin estate administration. Once you involve the probate courts, they will help oversee the process. Learning more about probate proceedings can help you plan to handle someone’s affairs after they die.