7 Documents you Need to Find When Someone Dies
When a family member dies, many questions can be left unanswered. Financial concerns are often pushed aside during the grieving period. Unfortunately, this is also a critical time as far as dealing with the estate. Every probate lawyer in Utah will advise his or her client that it is best to collect and compare information with family members soon as possible because people are likely to forget valuable information the more time passes. The documents you find will contain information regarding property owned, creditors, assets and beneficiates. In the unfortunate event of death in your family avoid needing to involve a Utah attorney by searching for the following documents quickly:
Account statements – Any and all account statements become critical in piecing together your loved one’s financial situation. This will paint a clear picture of cash assets available.
Life insurance policies – If your loved one had a life insurance policy, read and understand the policy. Discuss life insurance with family members and ascertain if there is more than one policy active on your loved one.
Beneficiary designations- Our loved ones do not always leave things as we might expect. It is important to find beneficiary designations soon after the death of a loved one to avoid speculation than can lead to litigation.
Deeds for real estate – All real estate becomes part of the estate and can be used to satisfy outstanding debt if there are not enough cash assets to cover creditors. Collecting all this information quickly, and while the family is gathered can save months (or unfortunately, sometimes years) of time and preserve money to settle an estate.
Automobile and boat titles- Your loved one may have more vehicles in his or her name than the one usually driven. It is possible that your loved one purchased a vehicle or co-signed on a loan for a friend or relative. This information can often be found by looking through old mail, and credit reports.
Stock and bond certificates- Stocks and bonds can be liquidated (like property) to settle unpaid debt. Stocks may also have a different beneficiary than other accounts. Each investment and account is different and must be accompanied by beneficiary designations and statements.
Business documents- If your loved one was involved in a business, you will want to collect financial information from the business at the time of death. This includes all assets and debt. You will want to find an operating agreement or other corporate documents outlining the ownership structure of the business as well.
While we often face death unexpectedly, there are times when we have some warning period. That warning period is a great time to collect these documents while your loved one is still alive to tell you where to look. In our experience, clients are often timid about asking their loved one for these documents, but your Utah attorney will advise you to overcome that anxiety and ask anyway. It will save you from having to hire a lawyer in Utah down the road. The issues that are often argued by every probate lawyer in Utah could be alleviated with the information provided in the documents above.
If you have questions regarding probate, will and or trusts, please contact a Utah attorney at Shumway Van & Hansen for a free consultation. Our website is www.shumwayvan.com, or call at 801-216-8885.