After a death, there are many legal details to work out. While it is not necessary to work with a lawyer, it is strongly recommended. The time following a death of a loved one is extremely emotional, and even the closest family may have disagreements. A lawyer is the easiest way to make sure everything is handled appropriately.
Before getting in touch with a lawyer, there are several important documents that you may wish to gather. These include:
- Any wills that you are aware of.
- Bank Statements
- Insurance Policies
- Vehicle and Boat titles
- Tax Documents
Procedures for bank accounts following death vary regionally. In some areas, bank accounts are automatically frozen after a death. To avoid any complications, the bank should be notified immediately. The bank employees will guide you through the next steps from there.
A certified death certificate is frequently necessary in the wake of a death. A death certificate can be obtained through a funeral director. It is a good idea to obtain multiple copies of a death certificate, as many agencies require a certified certificate and not a photocopy.
Everyone knows they should have a will, but the vast majority – about 70% of us – do not. Writing a will is easy and inexpensive, and once you are done you can rest easy, knowing your hard-earned money and property will be distributed according to your wishes, and that your loved ones will be taken care of in your absence.
Probate is the legal process that transfers the ownership of property from the estate of the deceased to their beneficiaries. During the probate process, the executor of your will goes before the courts and identifies all the property you owned, appraises the property, pays all debts and taxes, proves that the will is valid and legal, and distributes the property according to the instructions of the will.
An estate trustee is the personal representative of your estate. They are the person in charge of taking control of your assets, paying off any debts, and distributing assets to your beneficiaries per the terms and conditions of your will.