It's never easy to say goodbye to a loved one. On top of the challenges that come with grief and loss, there are legal and financial details to address. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to ready the estate for the probate process. Below, Jeremy L. Clark, Attorney at Law, in Catlettsburg, KY, offers some legal advice to help settle an estate after the death of a loved one.
How to Settle an Estate
1. Alert Social Security
Contact the United States Social Security Administration as soon as possible after a loved one passes away. If Social Security payments continue to come in afterward, that money must be returned, which can be an additional headache. While you'll eventually need to contact the deceased's creditors and the financial institutions where they held accounts, Social Security is the most time-sensitive, so alert the department immediately.
2. Open a Probate Case
If the decedent left a will, they likely named an executor. This individual should visit a courthouse and open a probate case, filing the original will with the courts. If no will was left, an administrator will be appointed; in this situation, you can file a petition at the courthouse to be named the administrator of the estate. Once the probate case is opened, the executor or administrator will tackle the legal aspects of resolving the estate. This includes paying any outstanding debts and taxes, filing an inventory, and ensuring beneficiaries receive the property they were left. A lawyer will provide the necessary legal advice to guide you through this process.
3. Take an Inventory
Once a probate case is opened, the court will request an inventory of the estate. Some property and assets may be included in the will if one was left, but an estate encompasses everything the decedent owned. Before loved ones claim the property, try to keep everything where it is and create a record of each item. Some will need to be appraised and, ultimately, the courts will oversee the process of distribution.
An attorney will offer legal advice and counsel before, during, and after the probate process. Boyd County residents can turn to Jeremy L. Clark, Attorney at Law, for help. He proudly offers services in probate, family, and personal injury law and has been assisting clients for over a decade. Call (606) 739-6774 or visit him online to make an appointment for legal advice today.