Losing a parent is never easy, even when it is expected. But as you are trying to deal with the emotional realities of losing your loved one, the logistical challenges of dealing with what they have left behind can be overwhelming.
And improperly addressing or neglecting to address important issues can create even bigger headaches and potentially raise probate issues. That is why it may be in your best interests to consider taking the following steps after your parent passes away:
- Notify family members: You don’t want your family members to hear about your parent’s passing through the grapevine. Therefore, take the time you need to ensure that everyone is properly notified. By doing so, you might even get some help dealing with everything that awaits you.
- Figure out funeral plans: Hopefully, your parent gave you some direction as far as what they wanted here. But even if they did not, you might be able to turn to their estate plan for guidance. This is because in many instances people leave behind letters of instruction that specify how they want their final arrangements to play out.
- Secure personal property: Shortly after your loved one passes away, you may want to lock up any valuable personal property until it can be properly disposed of in accordance with an estate plan or the probate process. There are probably going to be a lot of people in and out of your loved one’s home, which puts loose valuables at risk of being taken.
- Reach out to your parent’s employer: If your parent was still working at the time of their death, you will want to reach out to the employer to figure out how to handle any outstanding paychecks and benefits.
- Obtain death certificates: You will want to make sure that you have multiple copies of the death certificate so that you can provide them to those who will need them.
- Locate estate planning documents: In the coming weeks, your parent’s property is going to be distributed in accordance with their estate plan. So, start locating those documents and having conversations with any named executors and trustees. If there isn’t an estate plan in place, you will need to start gearing up for the probate process.
- Take inventory of all assets and debts: In order to ensure that your parent’s estate is properly handled, you will need to ensure that you have an accurate and thorough list of all assets and debts in play. This should include everything from bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, jewelry, and even furniture. Credit card and medical debt can be important here, too.
- Cancel any unneeded services: This may include cable and internet at your parent’s house as well as cellphone service.
- Send notices: A lot of people need to be notified of your parent’s death. This includes banks, the government, financial advisors, insurance companies, and creditors. You will want to be thorough and timely here.
Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed
We know that this list, which is not comprehensive, may seem long and daunting. But you don’t have to try to handle all of this on your own. In fact, you can secure help from an attorney who can assist you in navigating the intricacies of these matters, including the probate process.
After all, if you just leave things to chance, your loved one’s estate could be left at risk. You do not want that. So, if you think that you could benefit from some assistance in dealing with these issues, you might want to discuss the particular circumstances of your situation with an attorney who is ready to help.