When loved ones pass away, they leave behind their possessions, assets, and estate, which all need to be addressed. Their bank accounts must be closed, their unpaid bills must be handled, and any money they leave behind must be properly allocated. Often, these tasks fall onto family members.
Many families are caught off guard by the stressful, bureaucratic tasks they must complete while also grieving the loss of their loved one. Navigating this process alone is not only extremely overwhelming, but it can also be easy to miss some of the more important details. To properly settle a deceased family member’s affairs, you’ll need the help of a knowledgeable estate lawyer who can advise you on financial matters. Here are four steps to take after a loved one dies.
Get Copies of Your Deceased Loved One’s Death Certificate
The first action you’ll need to take before you can start closing out accounts is securing copies of the death certificate. It’s best to get at least 10 copies, as you’ll need to provide death certificates to close any bank or brokerage accounts and to register the death with government agencies. The funeral home you work with can get copies on your behalf. You can also request the certificate from the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Secure the Will and Determine the Executor
If your loved one engaged in responsible estate planning, they will have outlined where any leftover money, property, or belongings will go. In most cases, family members discuss a person’s will before they pass, so you might know where to find a copy. Next, you’ll need to determine the executor who will manage the estate settlement. Usually, people name an executor in their will.
Meet with an Estate Attorney
While having an estate attorney isn’t required to handle a loved one’s estate, it may greatly simplify the process. Specifically, if the estate is more than $50,000, having a lawyer is essential for navigating the proceedings and properly distributing assets that are left behind. The more money an estate is worth, the more complicated it can get, which is why having an attorney can be a crucial resource.
Take the Will to Probate Court
Probate is the legal process in which a person’s will is executed. Florida Statute § 732.901 states that the person having possession of the will (the custodian) must deposit the will with the clerk of court where in the county where the person lived within 10 days after receiving word that the person has passed away. Families will have to go through probate with the county’s probate court. This process ensures that the deceased person’s liabilities are paid and that any remaining assets are transferred to the rightful beneficiaries.
Contact a Trusted Orlando Estate Lawyer
It’s never too soon to start planning for the future. While it may feel uncomfortable to talk about how your property and assets will be distributed after your death, doing so will give you the peace of mind that you have done everything you can to protect yourself and your family. When you entrust your estate planning to Patriot Legal Group, you can feel confident knowing your estate is in the hands of experienced estate planning attorneys.
At Patriot Legal Group, we understand how overwhelming the estate planning process can feel, which is why our team is committed to standing by your side and upholding your legal rights. Our client-focused approach eliminates guesswork and creates a smooth, stress-free process for you and your family. To talk with one of our skilled estate attorneys, call (407) 737-7222 or complete our online contact form today!