A Quick Lesson On What To Do Before Probate Begins
Hearing a family member, especially a parent or grandparent, passed away is distressing news. There are so many things to think about and attend to once the news is received. Funeral service arrangements, travel plans to attend services, funding for the burial or cremation, flowers or donations, and the stress that accompanies the grieving process.
Here we work very hard to help you minimize any additional stress that may come from the task of handling your family member’s estate. There are a few things you can do or not do right away in order to make the probate process flow smoothly.
Don’t do the following:
- Don’t pay any of the decedent’s bills except the basic utilities to keep the lights and water turned on. (Turn off the cable and internet if it isn’t necessary!)
- Don’t try to figure out what the decedent’s Last Will and Testament says or what it means. Wait until you talk to a lawyer.
- Don’t try to withdraw any money or move assets around after the person has passed away.
- Don’t drive the decedent’s vehicles – cars, boats, aircraft – until you speak to a probate attorney.
- Don’t enter into any contracts on behalf of the deceased or the estate even if you are named as executor or personal representative in the Will. Only the Court can bestow authority to conduct business for the estate.
Do these things:
- Keep all of the mail that comes in to the decedent’s residence. Be very careful when sorting out the junk mail so you are sure to retain all important pieces.
- If the decedent owned their home: consider moving the electricity bill into the name of a family member. The power company serving Brevard County and central Florida will turn off the power when they are notified of the account holder’s death.
- Take some time to begin looking through the decedent’s files to locate: a Last Will and Testament, a list of specific gifts (usually handwritten), safe deposit key(s), statements from banks or investments, automobile title(s), deed to the home or other property, and other documents regarding his or her assets.
- Do take the time you need to process the death of your loved one whenever and as often as you need. Reach out to clergy, friends, or professional grief counselors to help you.
- Call an attorney if you think it will help you feel more in control. Many attorneys don’t want to meet with family for at least one month after the date of death. Here we will meet with you as soon as you feel up to it. Often we have families come in before the services and we provide answers to the inevitable questions that come up when relatives get together for a funeral.
Probate is not a bad word. Take your time and remember the tips above. Call for a no charge consultation with one of our experienced probate attorneys. We have two offices to serve you (Cocoa Village and Melbourne) and this year, 2016, we are celebrating 40 years in this community.