After the Funeral, what’s next? – Steps to settling an estate

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I used to work for an Elder Law Attorney and prepare Estate Accountings for his clients.  When my parents died I was their Executor.  The difference in doing it for clients and my parents:  it was personal, sentimental and emotional.

It was my responsibility to honor my parents’ wishes as expressed to me verbally and in their Wills. I have 2 siblings and there were 7 grandchildren in the Will. My Mom died first, so everything she had went to Dad.  Then Dad died and I more work to do in the middle of my grief.  I was blessed to have supportive family members with whom I could communicate. And I was blessed to know what came next.

Now I can share that with you, so you can plan for yourself or your loved one.

Here are typical steps to settling at estate:

  • Qualify as Executor
  • Set up an estate checking account
  • Notify Social Security and other retirement agencies of the death so they will stop payments.
  • Notify financial institutions and those to whom the deceased owes money.  If there are credit card bills, some may stop interest charges as of date of death, once they are notified
  • Do an inventory of all the assets of the deceased.  When you qualify, the Court should give you a list of what needs to be included.  It can take some time to locate assets if you have not been familiar with the decedent’s property.  Going through mail, file cabinets, lock box, safe.  I recommend taking video or photographs of real property such as the household.  Home owners insurance may help identify anything of special value.
  • Prepare an estate accounting:  sometimes there is only one, but if the estate has a lot of assets it may take longer to settle.  There could be accountings due each year.  A lawyer can help with this determination.
  • An Estate Tax Return may also be a part of the process.
  • After the funeral, legal and other bills are paid, disburse the remaining funds to the heirs and close the estate.

NOTE:  This is general information, so please consult with your local government and legal representative to ensure you take the proper steps for your locality.  An Elder Law Attorney is your best resource. You may also find helpful information on government websites.

 

 

 

 

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