Death of a Parent

There were over 3.4 million deaths in the United States in 2021 alone. Many of those deaths were older people – including parents.

Losing a parent is a difficult and emotional time, and dealing with legal matters can add stress to an already difficult situation.

However, it’s important to take care of legal matters as soon as possible after the death of a parent. Here’s a checklist of important legal tasks that should be addressed.

Obtain a Death Certificate

For your after-death checklist, you will need several certified copies of the death certificate, which you can obtain from the funeral home or the vital records office in the area where the death occurred.

If you are not sure where the death occurred, you may need to do some research to determine the correct location.

Notify Relevant Parties

Notify relevant parties, such as insurance companies, banks, and credit card companies, of your parent’s death.

You’ll also need to tell certain government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, of your parent’s death.

You should notify any creditors your parents owe money to and any beneficiaries named in the will. You may also need to publish a notice of the proceedings in an area newspaper

Review the Will and Estate Plan

One major part of the checklist after death of a parent is to review your parent’s will and estate plan to understand their wishes for distributing their assets. You should locate your parents’ will as soon as possible after their death. If you do not know where the will is located, you may need to contact their lawyer or the probate court in the state where they resided.

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You should also gather important documents such as property deeds, bank statements, and investment records. This will ensure nothing is missed during the estate process.

If your parent had a will or if their estate exceeds a certain amount, you may need to go through the probate process. If so, you may need further legal help.

Contact An Attorney

Consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in probate and estate planning.

There are other professionals who may be useful for your needs. For example, you might be interested in an estate litigation attorney.

Transfer Ownership of Assets

Transfer ownership of assets, such as property or vehicles, to the proper beneficiaries. You will need to determine how each asset was owned, as this will affect the transfer process. For example, some assets may have been owned jointly with a spouse or other person, while others may have been owned solely by your parent.

Once you have all relevant assets transferred, close any remaining accounts that are in your parent’s name.

You’ll also need to think about any debts your parents might owe before closing their accounts. Determine and settle any debts your parent owed and make arrangements to pay any taxes.

Prepare for the Death of a Parent Today

It’s important to remember that the specifics of legal tasks may vary depending on your situation and your parent’s estate plan. It’s best to consult with an attorney or financial advisor to ensure that you are taking all necessary legal steps.

Do you need more legal or organizational advice? We can help. Take a look at some of our other posts on related topics.

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