Like most California residents, you may have trouble processing the death of a parent even if it was anticipated due to a long-term illness. As you deal with your grief, you realize at some point that you need to turn your attention to winding up his or her affairs.
If you get ahead of the paperwork as soon as possible, the process could go more smoothly. It begins even as you start making funeral and burial arrangements. Keeping receipts for everything could help later since the estate can pay these expenses. This is just one of the first in a long line of paperwork needs that go along with the administration of an estate.
You will need the death certificate
Nearly everyone will want numerous certified copies of the death certificate. After reviewing your parent’s assets and debts, you can determine how many copies you will need. Even if you aren’t the executor of the estate, you may need it if you inherit funds from a life insurance policy, a retirement account or some other pay-on-death account. If you are the executor, you will need it for everything else.
Are you the executor of your parent’s estate?
You will need to locate the documents that comprise your parent’s estate plan if he or she had one. The will should appoint someone to serve as the executor, and the court will more than likely approve that appointment in the first days of the probate. If your parent did not make this choice prior to death, then the court will appoint someone to represent the estate. In either case, if this person is you, then you will have multiple duties to attend to as you close the estate.
Gather as much information as you can find
One of the first things to do is gather as much documentation and other information as you can regarding your parent’s property, accounts and debts. Make sure to look for any digital accounts as well since most people have at least one these days, but more often than not, they have several. All of the information you gather can help you to make sure that you take care of everything as required of you as the executor.
Now that you believe you have everything you need, you may wonder what to do next. The estate administration and probate process can be frustrating, overwhelming and complex, even if everything goes smoothly. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone. You can enlist the help of an attorney and any other third party necessary to properly fulfill your duties.