What to expect on the death of a loved one

There are many steps to take after a loved one passes away. Ideally, your parent, spouse, family member, or loved one has communicated with you about what they hoped would be done for them when they died. If you are unsure about any steps, the lawyers at Yaser Ali Law can help guide you and your family through this difficult time.

Some of the key steps you should take are:

  • Make the funeral and burial arrangements. If your loved has already made burial arrangements, then the funeral director for that burial location should be contacted. Otherwise, the family will have to make arrangements with a new funeral director. The director will review items such as what type of casket will be used, if the body is to be cremated, what happens at the funeral, and what happens at the burial.
  • Contact the U.S. Veteran’s office if your loved one was a U.S. veteran. The U.S. Veterans office can explain if your loved one was entitled to any funeral or burial benefits as well as any other insurance benefits.
  • Contact your religious adviser. You should contact any religious or spiritual leaders your loved one relied on to help guide you through the process and make sure you comply with the religious requirements.
  • Contact the local coroner’s office. Normally, someone from the coroner’s office or the local office that handles the estates of the deceased will need to be contacted about the death.
  • Guard the decedent’s belongings. The home and physical assets of the decedent should be secured until someone can be formally appointed the personal representative of the estate.
  • Prepare a written obituary. A family member can notify the local press that your loved one has died and provide a written statement about all the wonderful things the loved one did while alive including marriages, children, and references to parents and other family members.

Make the necessary preparations for probate

Some of the steps an attorney will review with you are:

  • Obtain the death certificates. The funeral director or coroner’s office should be able to prepare death certificates which verify that your loved one passed away on a specific date. The death certificate will be needed to probate the will, obtain letters of administration, and for other reasons.
  • Determine where the will is. Many people place their will in a safe deposit box. The lawyer for the decedent may also have possession of the original of the will.
  • Review whether anyone was appointed the executor/executrix of the will. If the will specifically names someone or some organization to act as the executor of the will, that person should seek to obtain formal court approval.
  • If nobody was named executor of the will, then someone should seek to be appointed the personal representative by the court. Your Tempe estate attorney can advise you who has the right to be appointed the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
  • Review any trust agreements. Many decedents created a trust before they died. In a trust, the decedent puts aside money to be used after his/her death. A trustee is appointed to handle the The trust should name a beneficiary.  Some common forms of trusts are:
    • Trusts for minors. The money is held for the minor until the minor reaches a certain age, typically 18 or 21.
    • Life interest trusts. The trust assets are held for a beneficiary’s needs for the lifetime of the beneficiary and then distributed to someone else.
    • Special needs trusts. These trusts are aimed at helping people get government benefits and some trust money – without being disqualified because the beneficiary earns too much.
    • Dynasty trusts. This type of trust is used to minimize taxes by holding the money for the grantor’s children and ultimately distributing it to  the grantor’s grandchildren.
    • A pourover/standby trust. This trust is used mainly by married couples to save on death taxes. The trust isn’t really created until the first spouse dies.
    • Protective trusts. These trusts are used to limit what creditors can get.

Consult with an experienced probate and estate lawyer

The approved personal representative will collect the assets, pay the reasonable and necessary bills, make an inventory of the assets, value the assets, and distribute the assets. The attorney will explain which items pass through probate. The probate lawyer will guide the executor or court-appointed representative through the probate process. In addition to the legal requirements, there are many practical things the personal representative should do such as discontinuing unneeded services and subscriptions and terminating any credit cards – that an experienced estate attorney can explain.

To speak with an experienced Tempe probate lawyer, please call Yaser Ali Law at (480)-442-4175 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.


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