Before Probate: What To Do After Someone Dies?

Compass on top of a will

The old saying is that the only thing guaranteed in life is death and taxes.  Like all sayings, there is a grain (or a boulder) of truth.  Even though we don’t want to think about it, at some point those we love will die.  If you have been asked to be the personal representative of the estate for Probate, it can make a tough situation even harder.  You were entrusted by your loved one to take care of their interests after they’re gone, and we know that you take that responsibility seriously.

Whether you’re preparing for the inevitable so that you know what to do, or someone you love has passed away recently, here are the first steps that you should take to ensure that the estate is protected.

First Steps Before Probate Checklist

  • Order at least 10 death certificates: You will need to provide these to many people, so its better to have more than not enough.
  • Inform their financial institutions: The best way to ensure that their money is safe is to let the financial institutions know that the person has passed. This will close the accounts and only allow the designated personal representative or beneficiaries to collect money.
  • Keep all receipts: Its common that family members help pay for last expenses like the funeral or house bills until you can be appointed by the court. Make sure that you get a receipt of all of these payments from anyone who has helped in that way.  You will need them in order to pay back your loved ones from the estate.
  • Freeze their credit: Sadly, people will prey on families in distress by creating fake accounts in the name of people who have died. If you freeze your loved one’s credit then these criminals cannot take advantage of your grief.
  • Secure their home: If they left real estate you need to ensure that it is safe and maintained. This includes ensuring that it is locked, and getting a copy of the keys from anyone who had them.  We also recommend that you set up a security system.  Don’t forget to ensure that the home remains insured, and that you keep up with routine maintenance.  This includes lawn care, ensuring that there are no frozen pipes, and going inside every week to make sure that nothing has happened.
  • Handle their mail: Another way that criminals prey on the deceased is by taking their mail and using the information to try to access accounts. You should either forward the mail or have a trusted neighbor pick it up for you.  The mail is also likely to have other important statements, like retirement or investment accounts that you didn’t know about.  This is a good way for you to make sure you know where all of their accounts are.

It’s Ok To Get Advice

Contact us at Rutherford Law Center for a consultation: We will help your family with care and compassion. Probate can be overwhelming even in the best of times.  Let our dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals help you with the legal side so that you can focus on what is important—yourself and your family.

Fountain pen on top of old fashioned will

More Information

If you’re looking for more information, here are some helpful links:

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