When a loved one dies, most people are overwhelmed and have no clue what to do first. You may wonder whether it is more important to plan the memorial service or to get copies of the death certificate. When it comes to distributing a loved one’s estate, a few tasks cannot wait.
1. First Things First
Before you think about the estate, take care of a few things:
- Notify relatives and authorities of the death
- Start planning a funeral, cremation, and/or memorial service
- Arrange care for pets and children
- Locate keys for cars and the house
After you handle the basics and get friends and family to help you out, there are a few urgent matters you must start addressing.
2. Most Urgent Steps in Estate Distribution
Depending on which assets your loved one owned, you may need to perform a few tasks immediately to preserve the estate value and protect assets. Think about whether any of the following is needed:
- Notifying employers, business partners, employees, and close friends of the death
- Paying utilities and rent bills
- Obtaining money to pay for the funeral costs
- Locating the will or trust documents
- Talking to the family estate planning lawyer
For several of these steps, you will need copies of the death certificate. Get many copies – you will need it for countless different matters. Talk to utility companies and the bank about accessing your loved one’s accounts to pay bills and funeral costs. They will undoubtedly ask for the death certificate. In addition, if you know who the estate executor is, you can ask him or her to take over these tasks while you handle other matters. If you run into any obstacles completing these urgent steps, talk to a California estates lawyer.
3. Next Steps in Estate Distribution
After you handle more urgent matters, the estate executor or a personal representative (maybe you) will need to gather and distribute all of your loved one’s assets. Sometimes this involves a probate court, and sometimes it does not. If you found a will, it explains how most of the assets get distributed. There may be a trust, life insurance, retirement accounts, and other assets to handle too. Again, talk to a lawyer for assistance.
Dealing with the death of a loved one? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate distribution advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.