When a loved one passes away, it’s common to feel a whole range of emotions. You may feel grief for your loss, or relief that their suffering is over. In my experience here at James M. Snow Law, another common emotional response to a recent death is anxiety, specifically anxiety about the legal matters involved. To help alleviate that uncertainty, in this article I’ll be going over more about the estate settlement process and what you can expect from it.
- Reading the Will. Estate settlement begins with locating the most recent version of the deceased’s will and reading through it with the help of a qualified attorney. The will should name an individual as the executor, or person responsible for handling their estate. If someone dies without leaving a will, a person, usually a close relative, such as a spouse or adult child, must apply to be administrator.
- Inventory of the Assets. The next step in the estate settlement process is taking a full inventory of the deceased’s financial assets, including physical property, bank accounts, and stocks and bonds. This process often takes time and careful investigation, and to make sure that you are getting the most accurate inventory it’s best to work with a lawyer with experience in this area such as myself at James M. Snow Law.
- Debts and Taxes. After you take inventory of the assets, the next step is to settle any debts and file the relevant estate taxes. This is another area where a lawyer’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable, as these types of transactions are often complicated and can also be emotionally draining.
- Distribution of Assets. Once all of that is taken care of, you can move onto the final step of the estate settlement process, which is to distribute remaining assets as specified in the will. You can consult with me at James M. Snow Law to determine exactly how to best carry out those instructions and ensure that each of the heirs gets their designated inheritance.