Anyone who has lost a close friend or family member knows what a difficult, painful, and overwhelming time it can be. We are often asked to help our clients through the estate administration process when a loved one dies, but estate administration isn't the only thing you'll have to think about. In fact, it may not even be the first thing you should think about. We know that nothing can make this process easy, but we hope this brief guide can help make the process of dealing with the death of a loved one somewhat less overwhelming.
1. The first thing you'll want to do is call close friends and family. . They will share in your grief, and they can also share the responsibility of notifying others.
2. Contact a funeral director.. This person can help walk you through the process of planning a memorial, making burial arrangements, and even writing an obituary.
3. . Find out if your loved one had a will or a trust. Contact their attorney (if they had one) and make sure you have the original will for the probate court, or the original trust agreement.
4. Order multiple copies of the death certificate.. We're often asked how many copies of the death certificate will be needed. As with many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” You will generally need an original death certificate for each life insurance policy or annuity, as well as for retirement accounts. Banks are usually satisfied with a copy of the death certificate, as are credit cards, utilities, and other such companies. You may need other originals as well, but more can always be ordered later if you didn't get enough initially.
5. Notify Social Security and the Pension Administrator . (if your loved one was receiving these). These will need to be stopped. If payments are made after death, any overpayments will have to be repaid or reversed. Often, the Funeral Director will notify Social Security for you, but you should check and confirm that they have done that.
6. . Go through your loved one’s files and paperwork. This can be tedious, time-consuming, and confusing, depending on how organized your loved one was. You'll need to collect either the originals or copies of the following:
• Bank and investment account statements
• Stock certificates
• Vehicle Titles
• Retirement account or annuity statements
• Insurance policies
• Real Estate deeds and mortgage
• Information on Debts (credit card statements, loan documents, etc.)
This is important information you (or the executor or trustee) will need for the estate administration, so don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
7. Go through your loved one’s files and paperwork. You'll need to call to notify them of the death and stop services. They may need to be sent a copy of the death certificate when you have it.
If you have any questions about the estate administration process, please feel free to give one of our Ohio estate attorneys a call, and we'll be happy to assist you in any way that we can.