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What should I do after a loved one dies?
In the first few days after a death, it is important to locate any estate planning documents that your loved one may have executed. Look for a trust, will and Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD).
The trust and will name successor trustees and executors, respectively. If you are named as successor trustee you have the authority to handle the trust administration without court approval. If you are acting as executor under a will, you must have court approval to act. In both cases you now have a fiduciary responsibility to administer the estate according to the terms of the documents.
The AHCD may provide important information regarding your loved one’s preferences for organ donation and burial and cremation wishes. Also look for any information regarding a prepaid funeral plan.
If you are unable to locate documents in the home, see if you can locate a safe deposit key.
You will need several certified copies of the death certificate ( I recommend at least five copies) These are usually obtained through the mortuary and are necessary for many of the estate administration tasks).
The remaining estate administration tasks will continue over the next several months to years. Typically a trust administration takes about one year. Whereas, a probate can take as long as three years. It is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney during this time, and it can be extremely helpful to work with an estate organizer who can provide hands-on help with the administration tasks.
What not to do after a loved one dies: You will have many tasks ahead of you in the coming months, however; there are some things you should not do without legal advice. You should not pay estate bills, distribute assets to beneficiaries or sell or lease property; and never co-mingle your personal funds with estate funds.
What is an estate?
What does a trustee do?
If you become the sole trustee after the death of your spouse, or successor trustee after the death of a parent or friend, there will be various trust administration tasks that will need to be handled. The tasks vary depending on the estate. But in most situations the trustee will be responsible for lodging the will, noticing creditors, obtaining date of death values for all assets, investing trust assets, filing tax returns, communicating with beneficiaries and making distributions to beneficiaries.
What is an executor?
I don’t have a lot of assets, do I still need an estate plan?
Although an estate plan typically includes four documents; a Revocable Living Trust, a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Management of Property and Personal Affairs (DPA) and an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD), estate plans are as unique as the people who create them. They are definitely not one size fits all. For a family with modest assets a good estate plan is especially important because it can help them pass more of their assets to their loved ones by avoiding the expense and time associated with probate proceedings. The most important part of an estate plan is not the estate it’s the plan.
What is the difference between a will and a trust?
What is probate and why is everyone trying to avoid it?
4% on the first $15,000
3% on the next $ 85,000
2% on the next $900,000
1% on the next $9 million
0.5% on the next 15 million
What happens if I die without an estate plan?
- The state gets to decide who your property goes to. heirbase.com
- The state gets to decide who will be the executor of your estate.
- If you have minor children, the state gets to decide who will become their guardians and manage their estate.
- Your estate will pay the government to make these decisions for you.
Most of us don’t want to think about our death, so we put off making important decisions, but it’s important to realize that if you don’t decide, the government will do it for you.
What is Durable Power of Attorney?
What is an Advance Health Care Directive?
Other types of directives are Five Wishes, POLST and DNR. These types of directives are more specific than an AHCD. In most states the Five Wishes replaces a regular AHCD. A POLST and DNR can be used along with an AHCD.