5 Steps to Take After Losing a Parent

Losing a parent can be one of the most devastating events in your life. However, even as you and your family members work through your grief, you likely need to take steps to handle your parent’s affairs. Working with an estate administration lawyer can help you determine the appropriate course of action to administer your parent’s assets and debts. A Florida probate attorney at Kramer Green can help you navigate the often complex process of probating a will, administering a trust, or distributing assets that pass outside of probate altogether.

  1. Gather any documents related to your parent’s estate.

    For example, your parent may have a will or a trust. If your parent had a prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreement that may affect his or her estate, those documents also would be important to locate. If you cannot locate any original documents, you may look in your parent’s safe deposit boxes. You must find these documents as soon as possible, as Florida Statute § 733.101 requires that you produce and file a will with the probate court in the county where your parent resided within ten days of his or her death.

  2. Inventory your parent’s assets and debts.

    You will need important paperwork that documents your parent’s assets and debts, including bank statements, investment, pension, and retirement account statements, life insurance policies, and annuity statements. Other necessary paperwork includes mortgage statements, real estate deeds, contracts, credit card statements, installment contract statements, vehicle titles, business entity documentation, and other financial records. Once you have gathered all these records, you should prepare a list of all assets. You also should prepare a list of all debts and their balances. These creditors will be entitled to notice if your parent had a will and an estate is opened in probate court.

  3. Begin notifying entities of your parent’s death.

    Once your parent’s death certificate is available, you need multiple copies for various parties. However, you should immediately notify any banks where has accounts or security deposit boxes after losing a parent. Notify federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration and Veteran’s Affairs, as any benefits received after your parent’s death must be returned. You should also cancel health insurance, credit cards, subscriptions, and periodic services such as cable, satellite television or radio, streaming services, Internet service, or paid memberships. Finally, put in a change of address at the U.S. Post Office so that all your parent’s mail will be forwarded to you or the appropriate family member, if necessary. Taking these steps preserves estate funds but also helps prevent identity theft.

  4. Notify entities holding assets with beneficiary designations.

    Some assets, such as life insurance policies, 401(k) accounts, retirement accounts, and investment accounts, have named beneficiaries. The proceeds of these assets automatically distribute to the named beneficiaries after the owner’s death without going through probate, regardless of whether an estate has been opened for your parent. You should notify these entities of your parent’s death and provide them with a death certificate. These entities will then begin distributing the assets to the named beneficiaries. Again, you will want to do this promptly; otherwise, the state of Florida will receive any unclaimed funds.

  5. Meet with an estate administration lawyer about losing a parent.

    Every person’s situation is different when losing a parent, and while everyone needs to take the general steps listed above, additional steps will be necessary. What happens next is dependent on the unique circumstances of your parent’s estate. For example, you may need to open an estate for your parent and/or a trust administration may need to occur. Whatever the case may be, you will need the guidance that only an experienced Florida probate attorney can offer you so that you know what to expect and how to settle your parent’s affairs.

Look to Kramer Green for Help with Your Parent’s Estate

We understand how difficult losing a parent is for you and your family. A Florida estate probate attorney at Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. is prepared to assist you and your family through every step of administering your parent’s estate. We know how to handle your parent’s assets and debts most effectively and efficiently so that you and your family can concentrate on what’s most important – grieving the loss of your loved one.

Our objective is to guide you through the complex legal matters that estate administration can involve. We want to lessen the burden on you as you go through this challenging time in your life. Contact our office today at (954) 966-2112 or reach out to us online to schedule a time to discuss your estate administration issues with our attorneys.

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