What to Do When Someone Dies
The best advice we can provide is to make every effort to get along and communicate with all family members. Just a little conflict within the family can add thousands of dollars of unnecessary attorney fees.
Within first 24 hours
- Determine whether any of decedent’s property needs to be safeguarded, such as a motor vehicle, vacant house, personal property in the house, etc.
- Ensure that proper funeral arrangements have been made.
Within two weeks
- Locate the original Trust, Will and other Estate Planning documents, and read it.
- Locate important records such a titles, deeds and life insurance policies.
- Inventory personal property.
- Make appointment with an attorney to discuss estate.
- Notify all life insurance companies of the death and request claim forms.
- Determine if any bills must be paid immediately.
- Contact creditors who are demanding immediate payment and notify creditors of death.
- Notify credit card companies of death and cancel the cards.
- Order at least ten (10) death certificates from the funeral home.
- Contact Post Office to make any necessary changes in delivery of mail.
Within one month
- Notify Social Security and companies paying pension benefits of the death.
- Gather and organize financial documents.
- Bank accounts and Certificates of Deposit owned by decedent.
- Mutual funds and Brokerage accounts owned by decedent.
- Stock Certificates registered in decedent’s name.
- Titles to Motor Vehicles and/or Mobile Homes that are listed in decedent’s name.
- Deeds to real property owned by decedent.
- Gain access to and inventory any safe deposit box.
- Obtain the account balance on mortgages, loans, checking and savings accounts as of the date of death.
- Notify any tax professionals of the death.
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What is Probate?
Probate is defined as “the official proving of a will” and is a legal proceeding to administer certain kinds of assets owned by someone who has died. The probate process provides order and rules to see that all claims, expenses and taxes are paid and that the beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to.
What does probate involve?
Probating an estate requires the Probate Court to appoint a person to conduct the administration of the estate. If there is a will, this person usually is named in the will and is called the Personal Representative, commonly referred to as “executor”. The Personal Representative takes care of the following tasks:
- caring for and gathering up all probate property of the decedent;
- determining the heirs and beneficiaries;
- investigating the validity of all claims against the estate and paying all outstanding obligations including federal, state and local estate and income taxes;
- preparing and filing federal and state estate tax returns, when required;
- after all debts and expenses are paid, distributing the assets of the estate to the heirs.
With proper Estate Planning, it is possible to avoid Probate altogether. Contact Casterline Law Offices to learn how to create an estate plan that is right for your family and will avoid probate. Casterline Law Offices handle all aspects of probate and estate administration process including:
- Full Probate Estate Administration
- Small Estate Probate Administration
- Estate / Guardianship Special Needs Trust Creation
- Trust Administration
- Non-Probate Trust Administration
- Non-Probate Asset Transfers
- Michigan Estate Tax Returns
- Federal Estate Tax Returns
The Michigan Probate Lawyers of Casterline Law can assist you with probate and estate administration as well as proper estate planning that would lead to Probate Avoidance.