When your parent or other loved one dies, you may be faced with the long process of settling their estate. This can involve selling assets to pay off debts and taking inventory of possessions. You'll need to involve the court, so you want to hire a probate attorney to guide you through the process. The laws for handling estates vary by state, so you'll want guidance from your attorney on how to proceed, but here is a general overview of what you can expect.
File With Probate Court
If your loved one left a will and identified you as the executor, then you'll need to file the will with the court within a specific amount of time. If there is no will, then you'll need to go to court to be named the administrator of the estate. Once you are legally able to handle the affairs of the estate, you can begin to take inventory of the assets.
Determine The Estate's Assets
You'll need to gather information concerning your loved one's assets. This might be easy if there is a detailed will. If there is no will, you may face challenges in determining what property and financial accounts were owned by your loved one. In addition to assets, you'll also need to know the debts of your loved one so a value can be placed on everything in the estate. Your attorney may need to file all of this information with the court.
Notify Creditors Of The Death
Creditors must be notified of the death of your loved one. You may need to do this directly or in the form of an announcement. The creditors then have a certain window of time to file a claim with the court to get their money. You can pay the creditors with money from the estate or sell assets to come up with the cash. Things that may need to be paid are the funeral expenses, mortgage, car loan, and credit card bills.
Carry Out Final Wishes Of Your Loved One
As the administrator of the estate, you'll also have the responsibility of passing on your loved one's assets according to their will. If there is no will, your attorney will help you settle the estate according to state laws. However, receiving the inheritance is usually the last process in settling an estate and it could take many months before that can be done. Inheriting from an estate is different from being a beneficiary of a life insurance policy where the money is received right away.
If your loved one had a lot of valuable possessions, savings, investments, and property, settling the estate can be a lot of work and very confusing. You want to hire a probate attorney right away, such as from Davis 2, so you avoid making any mistakes that could prolong or complicate the process.
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