Yesterday, we looked at the first steps to take after a loved one passes away. Specifically, we noted that it is important to ensure the safety and security of the people, pets, and possessions that the decedent (i.e. the person who passed away).
Today, we’ll look at the next steps to take after a loved one passes away:
#1 – Search for a Will and other important documents
After taking the urgent actions we talked about yesterday, one of the most important things to do is to search for a Will and any other important legal documents the decedent may have had. This should always be done BEFORE distributing any of the assets to any person. Many times, family members allow relatives and friends to come into the decedent’s home and take whatever they want that will be meaningful to that person. But it is vitally important that this not happen until AFTER reading the decedent’s Will.
So, take reasonable measures to find any Will that may have existed. The decedent may have kept his/her Will at their lawyer’s office, in a safety deposit box, in a fireproof storage container, a filing cabinet, or some other place. Typically, the Will is kept with other important legal documents, so if you know that the decedent kept all of his/her files in a certain place, look there first.
After finding the Will (if there was one), make sure to take the Will to a Probate Attorney, who can help you understand the legal implications of the Will. Again, this should be done before ANY assets are given away or sold so that you are not found liable for a breach of the Will.
#2 – Construct a List of all of the Decedent’s Assets and Liabilities
After searching for a Will and any other important legal documents the decedent may have had, start to construct a list of all of the decedent’s assets and liabilities. This will be very important so that you can know what assets to distribute to family and friends (according to the instructions under the Will or as provided at law). Likewise, this exercise will be vital so that you can properly notify any creditors of the decedent–including credit card companies, utility companies, mortgage companies, and other creditors.
Having a list of assets and liabilities will be extremely helpful for your Probate Attorney. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the next steps to take so that you can probate the decedent’s estate and legally wrap up his/her affairs.
Note: If you have any questions about these issues, or any other probate issues, please give our Probate Attorneys a call at 214-236-2712 or click here to learn more. We regularly help families probate the estate of their loved ones, and we can help walk you through this trying process.