California Estate Planning: What to Do Following the Death of a Loved OneApril 3, 2012 6:42 pm Estate Planning, Probate
When a loved one passes away, there are many details that need to be handled. Unfortunately, these tasks require time and attention, despite the fact that this is an emotional time for everyone involved.
In most cases, there is no need to rush, although some tasks are time sensitive. While you are planning your final farewell and informing others of the death, there are some practical matters that can be understandably overlooked.
Remember that you will need copies of the death certificate to get life insurance benefits and prove to various institutions that your loved one has passed on. It is a good idea to order five or six copies so you have enough on hand.
If your loved one is collecting a Social Security Check, you need to inform the Social Security Administration within a month of the death to avoid problems with checks issued after the person has died. The same holds true for pension funds and any other sources of monthly income.
Locate important papers; if you are fortunate, they are organized and in one place. These include bank accounts, mortgage papers, loans, insurance, credit card accounts, and other financial documents.
If there is a Last Will and Testament or Living Trust, it should state who is in charge of handling all the paperwork and legal matters; this person is called an executor or personal representative. The personal representative must file a petition for probate with the probate court within 30 days of the notice of death. If there is no will, the court will appoint someone – usually the surviving spouse or an adult child – to be in charge.
If someone is not already specified as an executor in the Last Will and Testament and there are doubts as to who should handle the probate process, then it may be necessary for the heirs or beneficiaries to seek help from a California probate attorney. This is an overwhelming time, and a person who has daily experience handling probate matters can be a welcome ally.
Get started by contacting our Orange County asset protection estate planning law firm as soon as possible.