When a loved one passes away, family members are dealing with grief, making funeral arrangements and the uncertainty of what to do next. Soon after death there are practical steps to deal with in addition to probate work and settling the deceased’s estate. The first practical step is to take time to be with loved ones, take time to grieve, and take time to spend a few minutes with your maker. That’s the most important part. It’s not the legal steps. Take the time necessary to grieve and then move onto the legal aspects.

One of the first things people need to do after going through the grieving process is to find all the paperwork that will be necessary over the next few weeks. The process is very document intensive. You will need to locate credit card statements, bank account statements, pre-nuptial agreements, tax returns, contracts related to your business, birth certificate, marriage license, Veterans Administration file number if you are a veteran, social security number and insurance.

It takes some digging but you may find documents that are beneficial to the surviving spouse such as union benefits, deferred compensation from an old company, life insurance policies related to old jobs. You will have to dig through some old boxes of financial states but it can be worth the efforts.

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Estate Planning and Administration