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Dealing with the death of a loved is never easy.  The most important thing anyone can do during this very emotional time is take the time to grieve and surround yourself with loved ones.

We always tell our clients that when things have calmed down a bit and all of the family matters have been taken care of to come in and see us so we can spend time reviewing their estate plan and go over the necessary steps to administer it.

There are some necessary action items that have to be taken when a loved one dies.  Today I would like to focus on the top five items that should be taken care of as soon as possible when a loved one passes.

    • Order at least one death certificate for each asset that exists.  Most financial institutions will accept a copy, but it is always better to have an original just in case.  It usually takes 2-3 weeks to get the death certificate and the funeral home will usually order the death certificate for you. You just have to let them know how many you will need.
    • Call social security/pensions if there were any benefits being received.  You will want to contact the Social Security Department to let them know of the passing if the deceased was receiving benefits.  You don’t want them depositing the next check only to ask for a reimbursement later on.  The same thing applies for any pensions that the deceased was receiving.
    • Do not close any accounts down or liquidate any assets until you have had a chance to come in and talk to your estate planning attorney.  There may be some harmful tax ramifications if you liquidate certain assets.  Your estate planning attorney should advise you of your options and what the best course of action will be.
    • Locate your estate planning documents and inventory all of your assets.  Make a list of all of the assets you are aware of.  Try and find out how each asset is titled.  This information will be critical when you see your estate planning attorney to review the estate plan. It would also be a good idea to come up with an estimate of what the value of the estate is worth.  This does not need to be exact, but just a rough estimate.
    • Schedule your appointment to see your estate planning attorney to review your estate plan.  They will spend time with you going over the estate plan, answering any questions, and discussing the necessary steps that have to be taken to administer the plan you have created.  I always advise my clients to bring their kids or a loved ones in with them to this meeting.  It is a very emotional time and it is always good to have a second pair of eyes and ears to help understand what all needs to happen in order to get all of the protections of your estate plan.

There are many valuable protections built into your plan that will only take effect if your plan has been administered properly, so it is imperative that you come in and talk to us before too much time lapses.

Contributed by MH Estate Planning Attorney, David T. Eastman.

Morris Hall Can Protect You in Today’s Litigious Society:
We live in a litigious society, where over 1 million lawsuits are filed every year in America alone.  Financial predators are looking for ways to take funds from others and often use litigation as their means to do so.  At Morris Hall we provide your assets and your loved ones with important protections that can prevent financial predators from taking advantage of you.  We do this through proper and current estate planning techniques.  With an MH living trust, we can also protect your property, assets and loved ones from probate, estate taxes, gift taxes, creditors, Medicaid spend-down, guardianship proceedings, ex-spouses and more.  A living trust also keeps your asset and beneficiary information private and secure to avoid giving financial predators information to use against you and your family.  Without a living trust, this information will be made public.

For those living in Arizona, we serve the areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Arrowhead, Avondale, Goodyear and Tempe.
In New Mexico we serve the areas of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, White Rock, Alamogordo, Truth or Consequences and more.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment with an attorney in your area!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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