Processing Your Loved Ones Estate? What To Do Before You Consult A Probate Attorney

If your loved one has passed away, and you're trying to get their affairs in order, you're going to need a probate attorney. Probate is a method of ensuring that a persons estate is processed properly and that no mistakes are made. While the process can be lengthy, a probate attorney can help make the process go much smoother. When you sit down with your probate attorney, you'll need to provide them with some necessary documentation. Here are four steps you should take to secure those documents prior to your first appointment with your attorney.

Order Copies of the Death Certificate

When you meet with your probate attorney, you'll need to bring several official copies of the death certificate. This document will be needed throughout the probate process. You should count on needing several copies of the death certificate for your attorney. These certificates will be provided to your loved ones creditors, as well as to insurance companies and various government offices – include the Social Security Administration.

Locate Any Existing Wills or Estate Documents

If your loved one had an existing will or estate plan in effect, you'll need to bring those documents with you. Your attorney will need to see the documents before they can submit a probate request to the courts. Not only that, but your attorney will be able to determine if your loved one had a trust in place for their estate. If your loved one did have a trust, your attorney may not need to initiate a probate case.

Gather Information About Assets and Debts

Prior to sitting down with your probate attorney, you'll need to gather documentation regarding your loved ones assets and debts. This should include copies of your loved ones bank account information, as well as information regarding investment accounts, pension accounts and real estate holdings. You'll also need information regarding debts, such as the names and addresses for all open credit accounts your loved one may have had. Your probate attorney will need the list of creditors so that debt can be cleared up before beneficiaries receive a distribution of the assets.

Make a List of Known Family Members

You may be the next-of-kin, but your probate attorney will still need to make contact with other family members. Before you sit down with your attorney, make a list of all known family members. You should try to include as much contact information as you can for each person. The sooner family members are contacted, the sooner the estate can be processed.

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