If you have a loved one who has passed away, and you need guidance on what to do next, we can help.
If your loved one passed away with no estate plan or a Will
Dying without an estate plan is called dying intestate. The estate will be subject to state intestacy laws and go through probate court. This means the division and distribution of the estate will be subject to a predetermined formula, usually providing half of the estate to a spouse, and the remaining half allocated in equal portions to the biological children.
A Will guarantees death probate. The probate court will take over at the time of death to make sure debts are paid, assets are distributed to heirs, and any loose ends are taken care of. All property that is controlled by the Will must go through the probate court. It is a demanding and challenging job, with many deadlines to be met, most of which are within nine months of the person’s death, the mourning period for the family.
Depending on the size of the estate, the complexity of the estate plan and the nature and extent of the assets involved, there may be additional demands placed on the executor.
If your loved one created a Living Trust
Your family will go through a process called Trust Administration. Upon death, the Successor Trustee must take steps to distribute Trust assets to beneficiaries and fulfill any other obligations of the Trust. We serve as counsel to the Trustee and provide assistance with the administrative duties required of the Trustee, and take advantage of any benefits offered by the Trust. When a Trust is not administered properly the Trustee runs the risk of causing the beneficiaries to pay penalties or additional fees. This checklist outlines the steps to take when a loved one passes away with a Trust.
Do not retitle any assets before speaking with a qualified estate planning attorney. That meeting should take place approximately two weeks after your loved one has passed.