When a loved one passes away, there are a lot of things that you have to think about. Some of the things that you will have to do might seem complex. One thing that you should be prepared for is how to handle your loved one's estate. Understanding the very basic steps that you might have to take regarding your loved one's estate might help you to feel more in control as you go through the process.
One of the first things you have to do is to gather all important documents. This must include any documents that the decedent had for estate plans. A will, trusts, powers of attorney and all other instructions the decedent had should be collected.
Once you have collected the documentation, you will have to look into the decedent's assets. Make a list of those assets. You must also make a list of all beneficiaries and heirs. Look into how these assets and beneficiaries go together. This information, along with the documentation you gathered, will be used to open the probate estate.
When the probate estate is open, the values of the items in the estate are valued based on the date of the decedent's death. After that, the bills for the estate must be paid. The executor is the person responsible for paying the bills. That person must also determine if the bills handed in are legitimate.
The final stage for dealing with the estate is distributing the estate so it can be closed out. When the discharge from probate occurs, the executor's job is finished.
Throughout each step in the process, things might come up that can affect your options and your next steps. Learning how to handle these bumps in the road might help you along the way.
Source: WealthManagement.com, "Estate Settlement: Setting the Process in Motion," Paulina Mejia, Sep. 09, 2015