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DiesIf you have been appointed the personal representative or trustee of a loved one’s estate, and that person dies, your life has gotten a whole lot busier.  Not only are you grieving, but others are turning to you to administer the estate, and you often do not know what you are supposed to do.

To help you with that list of things that you have to do, here is a quick list of things for you to gather as your prepare to administer the estate and meet with a probate or trust administration attorney to help you do a good job administering your loved one’s estate.  And you do want to be pretty on top of things, as there are deadlines attached to some of the actions that you have to take.

Tips After Your Loved One Dies

  • Take control of the loved one’s home, cars, and other property.
  • Tell the post office of the loved one’s death so they can take appropriate steps.
  • Share the will with other loved ones in a good setting.
  • Get the death certificate and make copies.
  • Notify Social Security
  • If the loved one was on Medicare, you need to notify Medicare.
  • Communicate with the loved one’s employer about benefits.
  • Notify all insurance companies and stop payments on some insurance policies, such as health insurance.  The companies should at least give you access to their forms so you can prepare those applications for after you have begun administering the estate.
  • Find and meet with a probate or trust administration attorney.  You will need to prepare and bring a few things to that meeting, such as:
    1. The loved one’s trust and will.  If you cannot find the original, copies, while not as good, will suffice.
    2. A list of your loved one’s bills and debts.  Gathering the statements is easier than creating your own list, but a list would be good enough.
    3. A list of all the financial advisors of your loved one, including accountant, financial advisor, insurance agent, and others.
    4. Names and contact information of all the family members who survived the loved one, even if they are not named in the loved one’s estate plan.
  • You need to cancel their voter’s registration, driver’s license, passport, and membership of any clubs.
  • You need to address your loved ones’ e-mail and social media.  While you may not be able to formally shut any of these accounts down until you officially become the personal representative or trustee, you can begin figuring out the procedures to do this.
  • If someone prepares your taxes, contact them so you can begin to work on your loved ones’ final taxes.  If you do not have someone who prepares taxes, begin to try to find someone.

That is a long list of things to do.  Many individuals want to try to save expenses and do all that by themselves, but this list is just the beginning of what you need to do.  Mistakes, no matter how small, can have big consequences for your family, and especially for you.  It is a wise decision to work with experienced professionals who can help you.

General Principles

  1. Working with financial and legal professionals can not only help your administration be smooth and efficient, but it helps your administration look proper in all aspects.  This can help lower the chances of lawsuits.
  2. You must be accurate.  Even innocent mistakes cause problems.  You need to understand the rules to govern how you can administer the estate, or you may personally suffer some big negative consequences.
  3. It is difficult to anticipate everything that can go wrong.  So, you need to be careful, organized, and prepared.  This will help you handle any unforeseen problems.