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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, January 20, 2022

What to Do for Your Loved One’s Estate After they Pass Away

After experiencing the death of a loved one, you may feel extremely overwhelmed without any sense of what to do next. That’s why it’s so important to have a list of steps that can help you to take care of the legal and financial matters of their estate. Here’s what to do for your loved one’s estate after they pass away.

1. Protect their valuable assets from theft.

It may be difficult to imagine anyone being heartless enough to take advantage of the death of a stranger, but unfortunately, it happens. Sometimes people will use obituaries placed in the paper or online to determine the address of the deceased as well as the date, time, and place of the funeral. With this knowledge, they may choose to use the time during the funeral to steal the decedent’s assets from their home while no one is around. For this reason it’s best to remove all valuable assets from their home and/or to secure them with either the help of neighbors or a professional security company.

2. Obtain a copy of their official death certificate

Life insurance and death benefits can be very important for the decedent’s loved ones. But in order to file any claims it requires an official copy of your loved one’s death certificate. You are also responsible for contacting your loved one’s retirement account(s) and the Social Security Administration in order to notify them of your loved one’s passing. If there are specific individuals who have been named as beneficiaries, it’s important that they file a claim as soon as possible, as it can take at least a month before it processes.

3. Establish a thorough inventory of their assets.

When your loved one passes away, you are still responsible for filing a final income return for them as well as one for their estate. But in order to do so you must have an inventory of their assets. While some assets, like their bank account(s) have inherent values, others often require that you hire an appraiser.

4. Pay their creditors when possible.

Unfortunately, even after passing away, one’s estate is still responsible for their debt. If your loved one had any debt, you must follow all relevant law concerning the notification of their creditors as to their death. You must also pay any debts for which the estate has the resources. If you fail to do so, you may face legal consequences.

5. Ensure you aren’t missing out on additional benefits.

There are often many benefits that your loved one’s estate will be eligible for, but many people fail to identify them, essentially throwing away free money. This is why it’s so important that you consider all angles regarding potential benefits.

Biddle Law Can Help

When you work so hard for all of your assets and want them to go to specific people and causes in a certain manner upon your death, you deserve to be able to do so. However, without a properly structured estate plan, you can actually create detrimental circumstances for your loved ones, rather than help them. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California probate attorney who knows the current laws and has experience dealing with the probate process.

At Biddle Law, we are here to answer all of your questions and walk you through the probate process. We are also here to assist you with caring for your loved one’s estate in the proper legal manner. We care about your assets and your loved ones and want to help in any way we can. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!


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