Following the death of your parent, spouse, partner, or other family member, it may be difficult to do anything but grieve. This is the time to be with family and focus on your own emotional well-being. However, there are countless legal issues that must be addressed, relatively quickly. In some cases, the estate administration process can be more difficult, cause complications with respect to your loved one’s last wishes, cause delays in distributing assets, and more. Here are some important considerations to know after the death of a loved one.
- Assets Should be Protected
Even if it does not seem likely for someone to steal money from the person who has passed away, it is important that you protect the assets of the estate. Grieving family members or individuals that feel that they were wrongfully left out of the decedent’s will may take drastic measures fueled by their emotions. As more and more elderly parents move in with their adult children, according to AARP, children may feel like they should be reimbursed for the expenses that their parents placed on them. Yet, taking from the estate plan directly for expenses unrelated to administering the estate is unlawful. Once assets are taken out of a bank account, for example, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to recover.
- Power of Attorney is No Longer Valid
A power of attorney is only valid while a person is alive. It provides decision making powers regarding the medical care and/or financial decisions of the incapacitated individual during their lifetime. However, when the individual passes away, a power of attorney is no longer valid. As such, the power of attorney does not give someone the ability to administer the estate. Only the estate administrator or “personal representative”, who is named by the testator, has that ability. Oftentimes these people are one and the same, though not always.
- Begin Searching for a Will
You need to begin searching for the original last will and testament. Often, a copy is filed with the Registrar of Wills, but other than the obvious, such as a file cabinet or desk in the decedent’s home, other places to look for the will include in a fire safe box, with the decedent’s attorney, at their bank, in a safety deposit box, or with the decedent’s accountant, according to AARP. If the original cannot be located, a copy will do.
- Open Probate Estate
Maryland law requires you to open an estate, through the process of probate, to ensure that creditors and taxes are paid. By failing to do this, the IRS, Medicaid, or other creditors may petition the court for repayment. If assets are sold prior to probate, they may file suit to take back property or recover the value of assets that were improperly distributed to heirs. A Maryland probate attorney can not only protect you, but provide legal guidance for these important matters.
- Notify Companies of the Death
Notify credit card companies, state and federal agencies, banks, utilities, and other companies and agencies of the death so that unnecessary billing will stop.
Call a Maryland Probate Attorney at Once
If you have lost a loved one, the Maryland probate attorneys at Frame and Frame can help you make important decisions and help you administer your loved one’s estate in accordance with the law. We provide a very personalized approach to legal issues by listening to your story and creating unique solutions to take the weight off your shoulders.
Download the Free Guide to Probate.