When a loved one dies: first, you grieve.
Next, as their successor trustee, there is a series of obligations that you must handle to put your loved one to rest and to manage their estate. Below is an initial checklist of key steps to get you started.
Before you begin the process, please reach out to your estate attorney for support, recommendations, and copies of all estate planning documents and paperwork. We will also provide a more detailed checklist and other resources. And, if you choose, we guide you through the process or conduct the administration of your loved one’s estate on your behalf.
Step 1. Care for your loved one & the immediate needs of their dependents & estate.
Take the immediate steps needed, with support from family and friends, as you mourn your loss.
Your estate attorney is here to help you through these first few days. We will provide recommendations and point you to your trust portfolio documents and information.
Timing: This occurs immediately after death.
Step 2. Initiate the process of trust or estate settlement.
Set up a consultation with your estate planning attorney. There are a number of documents to review and sign:
And, we will discuss post-mortem estate and income tax strategies, such as disclaimers and the funding of subtrusts. We can preserve portability—an important tax strategy—but only with timely filing of the estate tax return.
Timing: Set up the initial consultation within the first week, if possible.
Step 3. Notify your advisors & procure key documents.
Begin slowly after the funeral.
Timing: It will be most helpful if you can complete these steps within one week of your loved one’s passing.
Step 4. Map out critical deadlines.
Timing: Determine all deadlines and begin planning no more than two weeks after death. You will need to begin the process of settling the estate within 30 days.
Step 5. Notify providers of benefits, pay bills, & secure financial accounts.
If your loved one lived alone, make sure that all essential bills, such as mortgages and utilities, are being paid, and arrange for any needed maintenance or care of their home, such as trash disposal and lawn mowing.
Timing: Do your best to accomplish this within the first 30–60 days.
Guidelines and cautions.
We know that you want to follow your loved one’s wishes. The trust document serves as an operating manual to guide your actions and will clearly list what your loved one intended.
If you have questions, please contact us to set up a consultation.
This post was written by Jessica Marchegiano, founder of JM Law and senior estate planning attorney.
8180 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1100 | McLean, Virginia 22102 | (703) 956-5738
Disclaimer: Materials prepared by JM LAW, PLLC are for general informational purposes only. Educational material does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not an offer to represent you. You should not act or refrain from acting based on information provided.