Sorting out the finances associated with a loved one’s death can be overwhelming and can send even the most organized family into a state of confusion. Scheduling a consultation with an estate planning or probate administration lawyer can help to clear out many of the most common questions surrounding dealing with someone’s estate.

It’s never easy to recognize that your loved one has passed away and that you are now responsible for resolving finances, but if you are the immediate loved one or a personal representative, you have a responsibility to do so. You might discover that your loved one had your financial accounts in a notebook, but these could be written in code. One man recently shared that sorting through his mother’s estate that was written in code took more than a year in an attempt to decipher it.

The first thing to do is not make any emotional decisions. Under emotional duress you could make decisions that you could later regret. Ask for help from a financial advisor or an estate planning attorney. This person can be a crucial point of contact for tracking down difficult finances or coordinating with other professionals. In the midst of the grief process, you don’t need one more thing to be concerned about that could cause you additional and unnecessary stress.

A lawyer will be familiar with the probate administration process and the various steps that are involved in it and clearing this up can give you the peace of mind and opportunity to truly grieve. Where possible, obtain multiple copies of the death certificate. Usually the funeral home handling arrangements can help you with this. Ask for help from an attorney estimating how many you will need and what type because people frequently underestimate.

You may need them for various insurance providers, financial institutions and more, so it is important to have ample death certificate options. Finally, where possible, locate the original will and trust. Hopefully, the person who passed away had clear records and this information is easy to obtain, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. When you have these original estate planning documents, it will be easier for you to move through the probate administration process.

The support of an estate planning attorney is instrumental in helping you to gather all of these materials and to effectively present them to the court. When you have questions about the process, you can turn to your attorney.

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