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The Law Office of Kevin Hancock > News > Probate Services > Probate Lawyer Guide: The First Three Steps When A Loved One Passes

Probate Lawyer Guide: The First Three Steps When A Loved One Passes

Steps to take for when a family member passes away

Step One: Take Care of Yourself and Your Family

Steps for when a family member dies in Colorado SpringsThe first thing to do when a loved one passes is take care of yourself, your family and your loved ones.  Even when a person’s passing is expected, the toll of the grieving process can be very difficult and, more than anything, requires time. The closest family members, especially spouses and children, and friends are the ones most affected by a person’s passing, and they often take on the lion’s share of the burden of planning funeral and burial/cremation arrangements.  In the midst of process and grieving, those folks often forget to take care of themselves.  So, the first step to take when dealing with a loved one’s passing is to take care of yourself, your family and your loved ones, especially those who were closest to the decedent.

While making sure funeral and burial/cremation expenses are paid, often the last thing to worry about right away are finances and property of the decedent.  All of that can and will be taken care of in due time.  But, after the memorial services and some rest, you should seek the advice of probate lawyer to examine and advise you on how to wrap up the decedent’s final affairs.

Step Two: Gather Information

The next step, before you meet with a probate attorney, is to gather information your probate attorney will need.  At a minimum, you will need to gather the following information:

  • Death Certificate – Obtain at least 10 original copies of the death certificate, which will be needed for many aspects of the probate process, including transferring real estate, bank accounts, etc. Most of the time, it takes between 7-10 days to receive the death certificate, so if you have not received it by the time you meet with your probate lawyer, you will need to provide a copy as soon as practical.
  • Will and/or Trust Documents – Gather the Last Will and Testament and/or Trust documents of the decedent, especially the originals of any such documents.
  • Accounts/Assets – Find all account information, including bank, retirement, life insurance, mutual funds, etc. Find all deeds for real estate. Inventory all personal property.
  • Digital Assets – Determine and get username/password for all computers, tablets, phones, online accounts, etc.
  • Creditor Information – Determine the name, contact information, and amount owed for any creditors.
  • Family Information – Gather the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email address for any and all family members, including deceased spouses and/or children, as well as any other beneficiaries named in a will or trust.

Step 3: Meeting with The Probate Lawyer

First of all, all initial appointments with our office are free with no obligation. After introductions, we will discuss with you your family situation to get to know you and about the decedent.

From there, we will walk you through an intake form to get vital information we will use in preparing the probate filings.  Specifically, we gather information about the decedent, his/her family, his/her will and/or trust documents, his/her assets and debts.

Then, we talk about what you will need to do, including whether you need to establish a probate estate, how to do so, and what our role as your probate lawyer is in that process.  We will also discuss a fee structure for our services, which will typically be a flat fee in most cases.  Only in cases where there is likely to be a dispute or in fact there is already a dispute do we enter fee agreements for an hourly fee.  In some cases, we will do the necessary probate work for a small contingency fee, usually less than 10%.

The key to meeting with any probate lawyer is getting to know the lawyer and the firm, being comfortable with their competency and skill, and being able to afford them.

At The Law Office of Kevin R. Hancock, LLC, our priority is service to our clients, and we are honored to serve and represent those who are navigating the legal process of administering a loved one’s probate estate.