What Steps Should You Take After a Loved One Dies?

Clients, especially those who have been acting as Attorney-in-Fact for a loved one, or those who are named as the Personal Representative/Executor or Trustee in a Will or Trust  always want to know what steps they should be taking after a loved one passes away. 

Below are a few basic tips to get you started to ensure that all assets are secured and that the probate, estate administration or trust administration process, goes smoothly.

1.  Be aware that once an individual passes away, a Power of Attorney is no longer effective.  A Personal Representative or Trustee is who will take over management of assets and payment of debts after death.

2.  Notify the decedent’s frieds, family member, employer or employees of the death.

3.  Look for any specific funeral and burial instructions left by the Decedent.  In my estate planning documents, I typically include a “Funeral and Burial Letter” which is located with the Will or Trust.

4.  Arrangements should be made for the care of the decedent’s pets, if any.

5.  The decedent’s residence should be secured.  You can do this by having either a trusted friend stay at the home or by changing the locks.

6.  Locate the Decedent’s original Will or original Trust document.

7.  Order between 5 and 10 certified copies of the Death Certificate.

8.  If the decedent left a will or trust, you should contact an Idaho Probate Attorney to advise you with respect to the appropriate steps to take to probate the decedent’s estate, if necessary and to learn about the appropriate steps for Estate Administration or Trust Administration in Idaho.  Failure to do so may result in costly mistakes.

9.  If the decedent did not leave a will or trust, but there is property of the Estate (bank accounts, real property, vehicles, etc.) you should also contact an Idaho Probate Attorney to assist you with Intestate administration of the Estate.

10.  If the decedent left a Revocable Living Trust, the Trust likely became irrevocable as of the decedent’s date of death.  The Trust will need its own Tax ID Number.  Your accountant or attorney can assist you with getting this number.

11.  If the Decedent was renting the property, the landlord should be notified

12.  Notify any utility and phone suppliers of the death.

13.  Notify the post office to change the mailing address to the address of the Personal Representative (once appointed) or the Successor Trustee.

14.  Keep track of your time in handling administration of the estate or trust.  You should also keep all receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the Estate or Trust. 

Hiring a competent Idaho Probate Attorney can alleviate a lot of the unnecessary stress that comes with administering a Deceden’t estate or trust. 

My philosophy when it comes to Estate or Trust Administration, is that as your Probate Attorney, I will take the burden off of your shoulders, and guide you step-by-step through the process.  I’ve found that my clients are relieved to have this burden removed, and that it is helpful especially in situations where family members may not get along or have trust issues with one family member administering the Estate.

Hiring a competent Probate Attorney can also save the Estate or Trust money in many instances.  It is always cheaper to prevent a problem, than it is to fix one. 

If you need help with an Idaho estate administration or trust administration, or need assistance going through Idaho Probate, I would love to assist you!  Contact Mindy Moore at (208) 384-8588 to schedule a consultation with me.

Welcome to the Boise Estate Planning Blog

I am an estate planning lawyer with the Boise law firm of Angstman Johnson.

When people think of estate planning, they automatically think of wealthy individuals. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions out there. If you have a dollar in your pocket, a favorite piece of jewelry, a car, a house, a savings account, etc.- you have an “estate”.

If your “estate” exceeds a certain amount, and you don’t have an estate plan, Uncle Sam may very well be the beneficiary of most of your estate! Even if your assets don’t exceed the applicable exemption amount for estate taxes, if you don’t have a will- the laws of Idaho will dictate who inherits the assets of your estate. To protect against this, you should have a will. In later articles, I will discuss why you absolutely should not use any of the online do-it-yourself wills or write your own will…and it is not because I make more money! In fact, some of the most expensive estates I’ve worked on were for people with modest estates, but whose loved ones either drafted their own will or used a do-it-yourself form. But I will save that topic for another day! Suffice it to say, it is best if you are in Boise to contact an estate planning lawyer.

In addition to preparing for who inherits your assets after you are gone, another part of your estate plan is creating a plan in the event of your incapacity. What happens if you get into a car accident and are unable to make healthcare and financial decisions for yourself?

The simplest way to handle a situation where you are incapacitated for a period of time is to have a Durable General Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. In Boise, many people refer to the Health Care Power of Attorney as an Advanced Directive. In your Health Care Power of Attorney you will designate a Health Care Agent or “Attorney-in-Fact” to make medical decisions for you while you are incapacitated. In your Durable General Power of Attorney, you will designate an Agent or “Attorney-in-Fact” to handle your financial affairs (i.e, pay your bills, sign any contracts, etc.) while you are incapacitated.

For those living in Idaho without these Powers of Attorney, their loved ones may be forced to go to Court to establish a Conservatorship and have a Court appoint a Conservator, who will make health care and financial decisions for you while you an incapacitated. This process can be very costly. In my experience, it has always been far more than the cost of a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney.

The final piece of a simple estate plan is a Living Will. A Living Will is a document where you specify your intentions regarding the use of nutrition, hydration and medication if you are in a terminal condition. I ‘m sure you will recall the unfortunate case of Terri Schiavo, whose family battled for years over what her last wishes were if she had an irreversible terminal condition. Unfortunately, Terri did not have a Living Will, which would have spared her family years of pain and expense.

Together, a Will, Durable General Power of Attorney, Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will are all part of our Estate Planning Package. Of course, we also utilize Living Trusts, Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Charitable Trusts along with the numerous other estate planning tools that are available depending on our clients particular needs.

If you’ve been putting off the task of getting together your Estate Plan, hopefully you now realize that waiting is not option. Get that peace of mind today by contacting an experienced estate planning lawyer. If you are in the Boise area, visit our website at www.angstman.com or call us at (208) 384-8588.