When someone close to you passes away, you may be faced with the question of how to handle his or her estate. The process of handling an estate is complicated and can involve a lot of paperwork. There are four steps to taking care of your loved one’s affairs. However, it is a good idea to contact an attorney or other professional advisor to help make the process easier. You will also need to gather important information about your loved one’s finances.
A comprehensive estate plan includes several items, such as wills, a living will, a power of attorney and end-of-life care preferences. It may also include one or more trusts. This type of planning can be challenging, especially when a loved one dies intestate, meaning they don’t have a will.
One of the most important things to do when handling an estate is to write down all of the assets and liabilities of the person who died. These are important because you’ll need to determine which assets you need to distribute, and which you can pass on to your heirs. If you don’t have an estate plan, it’s a good idea to contact an estate planning attorney, who can help you draft a comprehensive plan.
Another important item to remember is to write down the location of all of your loved one’s financial documents. This can include bank statements, tax returns, and other important paperwork. Be sure to document where everything is stored, and keep a copy of all correspondence. Your estate should also have a separate account, such as a checking or savings account, to collect the funds from the deceased.
An executor is a person who has been named by the court to take charge of an estate. In most cases, the executor will be the person who makes sure all of the deceased’s financial assets are distributed according to the will. He or she will also settle any debts, pay bills, and settle any legitimate claims against the estate.
In addition, an executor should comb through the deceased’s bank accounts, credit cards, and other debts. This will help you determine which creditors you must notify. Once you have identified all of the debts, you’ll need to subtract them from the total value of the estate.
While you’re collecting the pertinent documents, you should also consider your family’s wishes. For example, do you want to have your child buried? Do you want to leave your daughter a china set? Many times children don’t have a clue about their parents’ wealth.
Other important pieces of information to gather are legal documents and birth certificates. If you don’t have these, you’ll need to file a petition with the probate court. After the court approves the petition, you will be assigned a personal representative to manage your loved one’s affairs.
The final step in handling an estate is to settle any debts. This may include any debts that the deceased owed you, such as a mortgage or loan. Also, be sure to get copies of any tax returns that are due. This is a good time to find a tax professional, who can help you with any issues that you might have regarding your inherited assets.