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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Handling Financial Matters After the Death of a Loved One

How do I start the probate process if my loved one dies?

Following the death of a loved one, you will be faced with confronting all of the emotions surrounding the death, as well as wading through the financial issues that come with a death in the family. Dealing with finances after a person dies can be stressful, particularly when your loved one dies without a clear estate plan. Review some pointers for handling the financial aspect of your loved one’s death below and consult with an estate planning attorney for assistance.

Avoid Making Emotional Decisions

When people are under stress, they often make rash decisions that they may later regret. As emotions will be high following the death of your loved one, it may be wise to put off major decision making. Take some time before you elect to sell the family home, move, or make another life altering decision.

Request Copies of the Death Certificate

You are going to likely need over a dozen copies of the death certificate to complete the necessary financial affairs. You will avoid needing to make multiple trips or phone calls to the funeral home by requesting several copies of the death certificate in advance. Prepare to provide the death certificate to your loved one’s financial institutions, insurance companies, employer, the courts, and like places.

Find the Will or Trust and Initiate Probate

If your loved one died with a will or trust in place, you will need to locate these items. For those unsure as to whether their loved one had an estate plan, now is the time to search. Check all locations where your loved one could store important documents, like a safe or office desk. Additionally, call your loved one’s attorney and financial institution to determine if the will is located with either one.

Once you have found your loved one’s will, you will need to deposit it, along with the death certificate, in the nearest probate court to start the probate process. If you have been named as the executor, you will now start the process of gathering all financial documents. Probate must also be opened for individuals who die without an estate plan. Contact a probate attorney for more assistance with handling financial matters following the death of a loved one.


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