by Daniel Bell
When someone close to you dies, it begins a difficult period in your life. Grief is had to deal with, and on top of that you may need to sort out their estate. They may or may not have left a will, and it can take a while to administer their estate. Perhaps you have even been named the executor, and it’s your job to ensure their wishes are carried out. Many people have never had to deal with handling someone’s affairs after their death. If you have no idea what your first move should be, there are some steps you should follow.
Finding Out If There Was a Will
Not everyone manages to draw up a will before their death. Some people choose not to because they don’t have a partner or children. Sometimes people die young and never considered it, while others put it off until it’s too late. When someone dies, you need to find out whether they wrote a will and who they filed it with. You may already know this if they told you. Anyone who possesses a copy of their will needs to notify their next of kin. However, you might also discover one among their papers and important documents.
When You Need to Contact a Lawyer
You’re likely to need an attorney to help administer your loved one’s estate. You may use the probate lawyer they had drawn up their will. However, there are many law firms to choose from, and it could be someone else. If there is a will, the executor should select an attorney to go to probate court. Then the executor and lawyer need to submit the will to the court. However, if there is no will, the judge will name an administrator instead of an executor. Your legal counsel is there to help you through the probate process and ensure everything goes smoothly.
Going to probate court is a common way of settling a deceased person’s estate. The court begins by officially making someone executor of the will or by appointing an estate administrator. The rules differ in different states, so you’ll need to check up on the law. This is where having an attorney comes in handy. With an informal probate process, you only need to file paperwork. This is much easier than attending court hearings, but it isn’t always possible. If anyone wants to contest the proceedings, it needs to go to court.
In some cases, your loved one may have made arrangements to help you avoid probate. This is good news for you, as it can save time and money. One of the ways they might have done this is by holding their assets in a living trust. This enables anything in the trust to be passed to beneficiaries without the use of probate. They might also have used accounts with a “pay on death” clause, so their money goes straight to whomever they want.
Dealing with someone’s estate can seem difficult, but it’s often more straightforward than you might think. Although it needs to be arranged promptly, there’s no rush to do it right away.