Last Will and Testament

After locating your loved one’s Last Will and Testament, the person named Executor/Personal Representative must determine what steps need to be taken to administer properly and effectively your loved one’s estate. The Executor/Personal Representative should contact an attorney knowledgeable about probate and estate administration process to assist them in making decisions about how your loved one’s estate should be handled. The attorney can also advise on other matters such as how to handle the claims of creditors against the estate, matters affecting real estate owned by your loved one, and whether the Last Will and

Testament needs to be recorded in any other country or state and what steps need to be taken to transfer assets.

Final Bills and Expenses

Gather all of your loved one’s unpaid bills as soon as possible to get a good idea of the amount and type of financial obligations he or she may have had. Certain obligations, such as mortgages and home equity line of credit, which are secured by a deed of trust against the home, must be paid on time without interruption, even if the borrower had died. Therefore, it is very important to make arrangements to ensure that the house payment is made on time by the person or persons who inherit the home.

An attorney experienced in estate administration can help you in making these determinations, especially if it appears that there may not be enough cash to pay all the bills in full, this process is particularly demanding and warrants an experienced attorney’s review.

Tax Matters

Contact your loved one’s accountant or tax preparer to find out what tax returns, if any, may need to be filed as a result of death. The typical returns that may need to be filed include your loved one’s final income tax return, an income tax return for the estate (often called “the fiduciary return”), and possibly an estate/gift tax return (depending on the dollar value of the estate).

Update your own estate planning documents The death of your loved one

may cause you to think about getting your own “affairs in order”. If you already have estate planning documents including a last will and testament and powers of attorney, your loved one may have been named in those documents as beneficiary or as your executor or agent under a power of attorney. Now is a good time to review those documents to determine whether any changes need to be made, or, if you have never completed estate planning documents, to meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss your situation and put the appropriate documents in place for you and your family.

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