After a loved one dies, your first thoughts are probably not about his or her estate plan. But it is important to take certain steps soon after the death in order to protect the estate. These steps include making funeral and burial arrangements, locating the will, and maintaining the estate’s value.
What Should You Do First?
When someone passes away, you should not immediately start taking items from their home or distributing their estate. There is a legal process to follow for estate distribution, and violating it can get you in trouble. Instead, first focus on funeral and burial arrangements.
The deceased person may have had specific wishes surrounding organ donation, anatomical gifts, funeral arrangements, and burial or cremation. You and other people close to the loved one should look for a document that lists these wishes. It may be a will or a separate piece of paper, and it may be with other important documents, with the person’s lawyer, or in another safe place. Sometimes, people include wishes about organ donation and anatomical gifts in their health care directives too. If you find a document listing these wishes, then notify family members and do your best to carry out the wishes.
Looking for the Will
In addition, you and others close to the deceased person should look for his or her will. Again, it might be in a safe place like a safe deposit box or with a lawyer. You may not be able to gain access to the safe deposit box right away without help from the probate court.
If you can’t find a will, don’t stress out. Sometimes wills are difficult to locate, and sometimes people do not make wills. Again, you should not start distributing the deceased person’s property. Talk to an estate planning and probate lawyer instead for help beginning the estate administration process.
Maintaining the Estate’s Value
Finally, you can take important steps towards maintaining the estate’s value. This may involve tasks like keeping an eye on the loved one’s house or caring for a child or pet. You may receive reimbursement from the estate later, and you will help out enormously until the executor or personal representative of the estate can step in. Once the executor is located and takes charge, he or she will handle finances, maintaining property, and other needed tasks.
Not sure what to do after a loved one’s death? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.