The death of a loved one and close family member is one of the most devastating, emotionally draining, and stressful experiences that any of us will ever experience during our lifetime. Not only are you personally grieving, but you also have to plan and pay for the funeral expenses, but you will also need to coordinate a schedule with the surviving family members on what to do with the loved one’s property after they are gone.
After the death of a loved one, the surviving family should make attempts to locate all the important documents and papers belonging to the loved one who passed away. This includes most recent statements for their bank accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies, IRA accounts, 401(k) accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. The surviving family should also immediately locate the Trust, Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Power of Attorney documents. Finally, the surviving family should immediately call the loved one’s attorney and schedule a meeting to discuss estate settlement with all the surviving family members present.
Depending upon whether the loved one had a will, a trust, or nothing at all, will determine the process. If the loved one died with a will or nothing at all, a discussion regarding the probate court process will take place including confirming the executor or administrator, keeping a detailed record of all the assets, debts, and expenses of the estate, as well as obtaining signatures and waivers of service of all the family members that are part of the probate matter. In addition, a discussion will take place on how the assets will be distributed once all the costs of administration and the attorney’s fees have been paid. Also, a discussion will need to take place regarding the sale of the personal property including whether to have an estate sale and having all the personal property auctioned.
If the loved one died with a trust, the discussion will be relatively simple and straight forward. The estate attorney will discuss with the surviving family members where all the assets are held, the final bills, and then will discuss the quick process of distributing the assets to the family members named in the trust as beneficiaries and who shall be in charge of settling the trust as the successor trustee.
As we all are aware, the death of a loved one is extremely stressful and emotionally draining. However, one thing you should have to worry about and go through is all the paperwork, mundane, and bureaucratic process of settling an estate. That is why it is extremely important to plan your final affairs in advanced so as to make things as simple as possible for your surviving family members after you are gone.
If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee, establishing a revocable living trust or an irrevocable Medicaid trust, avoiding nursing home poverty and Medicaid planning, probate, or any other estate planning topics, then I encourage you to attend one of our free live educational events scheduled this month. At these events, you will hear a lot of real life stories about families that paid thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses, families that were able to avoid unnecessary expenses, and families that were able to protect their assets from unnecessary nursing home costs and expenses.
I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!