Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies
The hours, days, and weeks that follow the loss of a loved one are a difficult and challenging time. While you focus on the priority of grieving your loss, it can be hard to know what steps to take to settle the estate and when to take them.
Getting help from a probate lawyer with estate administration and probate can minimize your burdens and alleviate concerns about settling your loved one’s estate. But even before you contact an attorney, there are steps you can take to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
What To Do Immediately After the Death of a Loved One
In addition to notifying all family members and other loved ones, final arrangements must be made soon after your loved one passes away. Their final wishes may be contained in legal documents or a formal estate plan. If you don’t already have those documents, it’s important to locate and review them. If the deceased person had a safe deposit box, you may need to contact a probate attorney for assistance in gaining access to the box.
It is important to keep in mind that immediately after someone dies in Arizona, no one — not even close family members — has legal authority to access, control, distribute, or take their property or assets. Even if someone had authority under a power of attorney before death, that authority terminated when the principal passed away.
If the deceased person left a valid last will and testament, the will probably names an executor for the estate. However, a designated executor has no legal authority over the estate until the court appoints them as the personal representative of the estate. A probate attorney can help determine who is responsible for the estate under Arizona law and take the necessary steps to secure legal authority over the estate.
Even though there will be a delay until someone has legal authority over the estate, the deceased person’s real and personal property should be immediately secured to the extent necessary to protect it. Actions that may be necessary include canceling deliveries and subscriptions, notifying the post office to hold mail, and taking steps necessary to ensure that your loved one’s residence and property are safe and secure.
When making final arrangements, be certain to request copies of the death certificate from the funeral home. The certificate will be necessary to accomplish a number of tasks relating to the estate. Asking the funeral home for copies is the easiest way to get them.
Steps to Take in the Days and Weeks Ahead
Providing support for family members and loved ones during the bereavement process should continue to be a priority after completion of the final arrangements. In some situations, getting help from a counselor can be greatly beneficial. You should also continue to make certain the deceased loved one’s residence and property remain secure, and take necessary steps to address immediate concerns to accomplish that goal.
Talking with a probate lawyer is the best approach to getting started with the process of settling the estate. While Arizona does not require a personal representative to get assistance from an attorney, getting legal help ensures that all requirements and procedures for administration and probate of the estate are fulfilled.
If necessary, the lawyer helps the family determine who should serve as the personal representative according to Arizona law and take the required steps to secure the court appointment. Whether distribution of the estate occurs pursuant to a valid will or estate plan or under the laws of intestate succession, a probate lawyer ensures that all essential actions are taken for probate administration of the estate.
What To Do in the Months Following Loss of a Loved One
Settling an estate must follow a legal process, which takes time to complete. How long the process takes depends on several factors, including the nature and complexity of the estate and on what process is required for the estate.
When an experienced probate attorney assists the personal representative, the process will be more efficient and less time-consuming than it would be otherwise. Family members and other beneficiaries should be patient while the personal representative performs the substantial responsibilities involved in settling the estate.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an East Valley Probate Lawyer
At Peterson Law Offices, we assist clients with all aspects of estate administration and probate, regardless of the size and nature of an estate. Your first consultation is always free of charge. If you have questions and concerns about settling a deceased loved one’s estate, we are here to help.
We take pride in offering top-quality, affordable legal services and exceptional client service. We welcome inquiries from clients throughout the East Valley, including Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 480-878-5998 or using our online contact form.