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4 Steps to take after the loss of a loved one

First off, we are very sorry that you have landed on this blog post. Whether a loved one passes away suddenly or spent several years in memory care or a skilled nursing facility, it is never easy.

In this blog, we want to provide a road map for what you need to do to take care of the estate of a parent, relative or friend.

1. Take time to grieve 

It cannot be overlooked. You need to take time to process the loss. While still in a highly emotional state, you aren't in the best position to handle estate affairs.

Of course, this does not mean you can wait forever. For example, creditors must follow certain requirements and may start collection efforts.

2. Locate a will and any estate planning documents

To smooth this process, it is ideal to have the difficult family conversation about where to locate a will or estate plan at the time it is prepared. Hopefully, your loved one provided a copy of his or her estate plan. Otherwise, you may want to check filing cabinets, bank security boxes or any other location where your loved one stored important documents.

Whether a will and estate plan exists will directly affect administration of the estate and the need for probate.

3. Learn about personal representative/trustee duties

When the will is read, you may find you were named a personal representative of the estate or maybe you were listed as a trustee. In these cases, you need to learn what you need to do. This will usually depend on the size of the estate and types of property.

4. Contact an attorney for answers

Number three leads into number four. But even when you are not listed as a personal representative or trustee, you may have questions about the contents of a will. For example, there could be legal issues if you were completely left out of a parent's will or when a trust accounting is not forthcoming.

By seeking the counsel of a skilled probate attorney you can avoid mistakes that could delay administration or lead to conflict down the road.

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