Friday, October 5, 2012

Boise Probate Attorneys (208) 472-2383 Idaho Estate Planning Lawyers

Tips About Probate and What to do After the Death of a Loved One
As a Boise Probate Attorney I often counsel people about estate planning and probate.  One thing I always remind clients about is preparing for their death.  I don't do this to be morbid, I mean it in a practical way.  When I see people in probate, I am always amazed at the difficulty loved ones have finding the will or getting access to it.  People often aren't sure what to do next.  Today I am going to give you tips about what to do after a loved one dies.  The aim of this list is to help you remember all the things you should do as a family member or personal representative.  It is by no means exhaustive but it is a practical list of steps to take.

Notification tends to be the first step. While it may be an obvious statement you should first notify all family members and close friends.  Other people that need to be notified are the social security administration if the deceased person is receiving any benefits, as well as any other government office providing benefits.  This could be Medicaid, Medicare or the Veterans' Administration.  Additionally, you should notify the deceased employer, bank, landlord and creditors.  In general, any one that the decedent has fiduciary, business, religious or personal contact should be notified.

Death Certificate
Creditors will often require that you provide them with a death certificate.  These can be obtained by calling the Department of Vital Statistics and paying for certified copies to be sent to you.  The certified death certificates operate as proof to the creditors of the decadent's death.  You will also need the death certificate to have insurance funds released to you.  It is important to remember that while any life insurance is technically outside of probate and the estate, you, or the personal representative may need to the proceeds to pay creditors so it is wise to hold onto the money until the estate has been closed.

Also, remember that deaths are reported in local papers.  Anyone preying on this sort of thing has access to the knowledge that the home is now vacant.  You should remember to stop mail and newspaper delivery and ensure that the home is secure.  In addition, you should notify the utility companies of the death.  You may want to keep the electricity as well as the other utilities on but you will most likely need to change the name on the bill.  Depending upon the company, they may only require the bill to be changed to "The Estate of  John B. Decedent" or "C/O the Estate of John B. Decedent".

Location of the Will
You will need to locate the most recent copy of the will.  As a Boise Estate Planning Attorney I always remind my clients not to store their will in a locked safety deposit box.  Without the will it can be difficult to have the personal representative identified correctly and letters testamentary created in the name of the representative appointed by the decedent.  It is very difficult and often not possible to do anything for the estate without letters testamentary.  While some creditors or individuals will deal with a person who identifies themselves as the personal representative without the letters, the majority will not.  An example where this happens is the transfer of property.  It is important to remember that a power of attorney expires upon death.  If you held the power prior to death and dealt with the finances of the decedent, upon their death you will need to replace the power of attorney with the letters testamentary.  You will not be able to transfer property without them.

Boise Probate Attorney
While you may not be required to go through probate it is always important to contact a Boise Probate Attorney.  These trained professionals can explain to you what further steps you must take.  In the administration of an estate, the person who has been appointed personal representative has many duties and obligations.  A Probate Lawyer can help you get started on the right foot.  The last thing you want to do is to compromise the estate, transfer of property or waste funds intended for beneficiaries.

If you need to speak with a Boise Probate Attorney or an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney, please give us a call, (208) 472-2383 and see what we can do for you.


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