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 implemented when a loved one dies. Today I would like to focus on the top five items that should be done as soon as possible when a loved one passes.
- Order at least one death certificate for each major 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 do not 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 us. There may be some harmful tax ramifications if you liquidate certain assets. We want to be able to 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 and document how each asset is titled. This information will be critical when you come in to see us to review the estate plan. It would also be a good idea to come up with an estimate of the value of the estate. This does not need to be exact, simply a rough estimate.
- Schedule your appointment to come in and see us to review your estate plan. We 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 children or a loved one 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 everything that needs to happen in order to benefit from 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. To schedule your free consultation with an MH estate planning attorney, contact us today at 888.222.1328.
Contributed by Arrowhead, Prescott and Flagstaff MH Estate Planning Attorney and Partner David T. Eastman
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
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.