There is so much to do when a beloved spouse or parent passes away. The fact that you are mourning your loved one makes this to-do list even more difficult. When it comes to the deceased’s estate, however, you can—and should—seek the help of an experienced probate attorney. Not only is it required in some situations, but it will lift a heavy burden from your shoulders and help you settle the estate more quickly than you could on your own, allowing you to grieve your loss and celebrate the life of your loved one.
What Is Probate?
If you’ve never gone through the process before, it can be confusing. Probate is the legal process of ensuring the orderly transfer of property from the person who has died to the people entitled to receive the property. Probate includes a variety of different activities, depending on factors related to the estate of the deceased. The most common tasks that will need to be taken care of in probate include:
- Proving the will of the deceased is valid
- Putting together an inventory of the properties and other assets
- Settling debts from the estate
- Handling any tax burdens
- Distributing the remaining assets according to the desires of the deceased
Determining what needs to be done can be difficult, especially at a time when you may be in shock from your loss. Consulting a Texas probate attorney as soon as possible can ease your burden and ensure that you don’t miss any deadlines or fail to take important legal steps. When you schedule a free consultation with probate attorney Aaron Miller in Plano, he will answer all of your questions and help you get the probate process started.
We Help You Handle Your Loved One’s Estate
There are some steps you can take right away to get headed in the right direction following the loss of a loved one. We explain these steps in greater detail in our free book, Seven Steps to Handling Your Loved One’s Estate, but list them here to give you an idea of what you need to think about when a loved one passes away:
- Take an inventory of property and documents. Using the checklist provided in our free book, locate and list important documents and assets.
- Notify Social Security. If your loved one was receiving Social Security benefits, you must notify the agency of the death. Payments will then stop immediately.
- Get property secured. Remove valuables from the house and make sure the house is secured against theft and vandalism. Place important papers in a lock box and stop mail delivery to the house. Keep a list of all items removed or secured.
- Deal with outstanding debt. Debts are not forgiven upon a person’s death. You may want to freeze the decedent’s bank accounts and consult an attorney about paying off debt out of the estate.
- Open claims for insurance benefits. You will have to locate life insurance, health insurance, and retirement accounts and notify them of the death so that they can begin to pay out any proceeds to beneficiaries.
- Identify additional benefits. Determine whether the decedent had other plans that offered survivor benefits and notify those providers of the death.
- Contact a probate attorney. Does all of these seem overwhelming? A probate attorney can help you with the process and even take over some of the steps completely. Do not hesitate to contact an attorney. The longer you wait, the harder it could be to settle the estate.
While this is very likely the first time you have had to go through the probate process, our estate planning and probate law office has been through it many times. When you entrust your loved one’s estate to us, you can be sure everything will be done right.
Contact Our Plano Office Today
Many of our probate clients have never had to hire an attorney before and start out feeling uncertain about whether they really need one or not. When you meet with us during your free consultation, we will answer all of your questions and put your mind at ease. You are under no obligation to hire us, but you’ll still leave knowing more than you did when you started. Call our office or fill out the form on this page to take the first step. We’re here to help you during this difficult time.