Four Steps To Simplify Probate After A Loved One Dies

28 March 2018
 Categories: Law, Blog


After a family member passes away, one of the challenges you may face is going through the probate process. This is a process by which the deceased person's estate is divided and passed on to heirs by the probate court. It can take a few weeks or even years, depending on the circumstances, and it can be a trying time for family members who are grieving. Here are four tips to follow during the probate process to keep your sanity in check and ensure the process goes smoothly.

1. Don't split items up before probate.

You may be tempted to go through the deceased person's home and grab things you want or that the person told you were left to you. Family members may wish to do the same. However, this can really complicate the probate process later on if items you take were willing to another person. It's best to just leave the estate in tact, and not move anything, until the probate process is complete. The one exception is pets. Obviously, someone needs to care for a pet in the meantime, so feel free to take pets home with you -- but be open to relocating them to their rightful heir if you find the will specifies you must do so.

2. Meet with a lawyer sooner rather than later.

Contact a probate attorney in the area. If the deceased had a lawyer who drew up their will, that person is probably a good choice. You may only need a short consultation to get the probate process underway, but it's best to get started sooner rather than later so you know what you have to do. 

3. Be prepared to make phone calls.

In most cases, you will be required to call heirs, beneficiaries, and others to notify them that the deceased's will is in probate. According to your loved one's will, your attorney can give you a list of the people you need to call. Do not skip making these calls. If someone is not notified of the probate, it can slow down the whole process -- not to mention, start some family drama.

4. See a therapist.

It's always a good idea to meet with a therapist when someone close to you passes away. Even if you only have one or two sessions, speaking with a qualified person will help keep your head on straight so you can navigate the probate process with ease.

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