How to Settle an Estate After the Death of a Loved One

Last will and testament

The death of a loved one is a challenging time for anyone. If you’re tasked with being the sole individual who has to settle their funeral or cremation arrangements and legal affairs, it can be especially burdensome for you. Some of these processes are quite simple, but others aren’t as straightforward. That is especially the case if your loved one wasn’t able to prepare a will before they passed. In any case, here are some steps you can take to make the process much smoother for yourself.

Seek legal assistance

During this emotionally charged time, it’ll be incredibly difficult to do things alone. That is why you’ll need to seek the advice of family law attorneys who can guide you through the complicated process. They’ll be able to help you draft any necessary documents and provide assistance regarding income tax, donor’s tax, and estate tax.

Locate any important documents

Unless your loved one explicitly divulged the specifics of their memorial service and funeral or cremation arrangements before they passed, you’ll need to locate written instructions to carry out their intended plans in the form of a document of instruction.

The most important document, of course, is the will. If they did prepare a will before they passed away, and you’re named executor in the will, you’ll have to apply for the Grant of Probate. This document will allow you to deal with your loved ones’ estate and execute the will.

If your loved one failed to leave behind a valid will, their estate would be disseminated by way of the Inheritance Law. The court will appoint an administrator who will carry out the distribution of the estate. Before they’re legally able to, though, they have to apply for Letters of Administrators. In this instance, it’s helpful to consult your lawyer to figure out how to proceed.

Obtain copies of the death certificate

You may order copies of the death certificate from the hospital, hospice, funeral director, or the Department of Health. You’re required to present one certified copy of the death certificate for every asset that they had that requires you to transfer ownership. That includes bank accounts, real estate, and cars.

Keep valuable property safe

Take stock of all valuable property such as real estate, cars, furniture, photographs, clothing, jewelry, as well as essential documents. Make sure all of these items are safely stored away and safeguarded.

Cancel any personal accounts

Any payments being made to your loved one from Social Security and pension companies should be discontinued. Any payments made by your loved ones to specific accounts or subscriptions should also be canceled, including memberships and subscriptions.

Deal with any outstanding debt

Unfortunately, creditors will not automatically forgive any of your loved ones’ debts upon their death. That means that you’ll be left responsible for settling these accounts. If you’re having difficulty paying them off, you can liquidate some of the decedent’s assets. It is a standard option for those whose loved ones did not prepare a will or possess more debts as opposed to assets.

Distribute their assets

Settlement of estate

Once you’ve resolved all debts and any other legal matters, it’s time for you to distribute assets depending on the last will or what state intestacy laws or your administrator decides.

Losing a loved one is never easy. Settling their legal matters while you’re in the middle of grieving can make the process even more difficult. Keep these pointers in mind, and you can make the proceedings go a lot smoother and more favorably.

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