Preparing to Open an Estate

Have you lost a loved one and you’re facing the task of opening that person’s estate?  Whether you have been named an Executor in a will or you have searched and cannot find a will, there are several things you should do as you prepare for the administration or probate of your loved one’s estate.

First, if you legally have access to the decedent’s home or personal effects, you should begin searching for important papers such as a will, insurance policies, vehicle titles, real estate records, bank statements, investment information, and other important records.  Some possible locations to find the Will include the decedent’s home, safety deposit box, the clerk of court office, the office of the lawyer who drafted the will, a safe or valut at the decedent’s place of business, or at a bank or trust company.  Also, once available, obtain a certified copy of the death certificate.

As personal representative of the estate, you will be required to conduct a preliminary inventory of the decedent’s assets and liabilities.   As the initial paperwork to be filed is completed, you will be asked to provide estimated values on various categories of property such as cash, bank accounts, stocks, personal effects, and real estate.  Also, you should begin gathering names and addresses of all beneficiaries or heirs, and also begin gathering all bills and listing any debts of the decedent.

There are various types of estates.  Some smaller estates can be completed within a month, while most estates take at least six months to reach conclusion.

If there is a surviving spouse, the spouse should contact the local Social Security Administration office to begin the process of making a claim for any available Social Security benefits.  Also, the surviving spouse should have his or her own Will reviewed by an attorney to ensure that it reflects his or her current wishes with respect to his or her estate.

Of course, there are a variety of other considerations and factors that should be accounted for, depending on the circumstances.  It is highly recommended that as you gather this information and prepare to open the estate that you contact an experienced estate attorney.  John Crotts and other attorneys at King Law are experienced in estate and probate matters, and are ready to serve you in our Rutherfordton office in Rutherford County, North Carolina or at one of our other convenient locations.  Please call today for a free consultation.