March 2018

Survivor's Guide

As America ages we hear more from our clients about loved ones passing away. Because we know that losing a loved one can be a stressful and emotional time in life, our goal is to best prepare our clients and friends of the firm for this difficult time. We have prepared a checklist that brings to light things to consider if you have been named an executor or administrator of an estate.

( ) Locate estate planning documents:

  • Locate the original will and any other estate planning documents
  • Consult documents to identify requested arrangements and health care agent, who, under North Carolina law, may have the authority to determine the disposition of the remains

( ) Contact the funeral home to make arrangements:

  • Obtain death certificates from the funeral home - keep in mind that you will need multiple certified death certificates to complete upcoming tasks (we suggest a minimum of ten)

( ) Obtain asset information:

  • Determine assets owned by the decedent
  • Organize and keep track of paper documents such bills and receipts, property documents, certificates, and records
  • Keep all mail received
  • Gather appropriate online passcodes and log-in information

( ) Notify the following:

  • Social Security / Veterans Administration, decedent's employer, utility providers (cell phone and cable providers, monthly subscriptions, etc.)
  • You must notify the Social Security / Veterans Administration of the death, and apply for any possible Social Security death benefits and survivors' benefits

( ) Consult an attorney about administration of the estate:
An attorney could help with the following:

  • Determining the disposition of estate assets
  • Beginning probate court proceedings in the proper jurisdiction

( ) Contact a financial advisor:
A financial advisor could help with the following:

  • Gathering information on financial assets of decedent
  • Coordinating with the attorney to determine the disposition of estate assets

( ) Contact other advisors:

  • Tax deadlines will apply so be sure to discuss these early in the process with your lawyer and/or accountant

( ) Maintain assets:

  • Don't spend from the decedent's accounts, including joint accounts, until you have met with legal counsel

To access a downloadable version of the Survivor's Guide Checklist, click here.