This is a very common question. Nearly every week in my law practice I am asked what should someone do when their loved one passes away. Unfortunately, it depends on the circumstnaces, the assets that they own, whether there was a will or trust in place, and where the property is located. When I was speaking with this particular client, it turned out that this family's father did not have a will. I informed them the first thing would be to make a list of all the assets and debts that their father owned. Next, I informed them that we would need to determine who was going to act as Administrator of their father's estate, and go through the process of filing a probate administration and getting that person appointed and confirmed as the Administrator. We would also need to get releases signed by everyone who was an heir of their father's estate and file a detailed accounting and inventory of all the debts and assets of the estate. I informed this family that all valid debts and taxes would need to be paid before a judge would authorize the distribution of their father's estate. I explained that this process would take a minimum of four to six months and could last as long as two years.
If you have had a loved one pass away recently, I'm very sorry to hear about your loss. The most important thing you can do right now is focus on your family and getting through this very difficult time. However, once you are through your family's grieving process, and before you do anything else, please download one of Our Free Reports on Probate and Estate Planning. Should you need anything after reading this Free Report, please feel free to contact our office.
Daniel A. Perry