Act Quickly to Protect an Estate

When dealing with the emotional pain of the loss of a loved one, family members also have to address daunting administrative tasks.

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Estate planning is a critical part of the retirement planning process. As we kick off the new year, this is a perfect time to ensure that your plan is up to date.
 
Things change over time. That includes our lives, our family, and even the laws that apply to estates. This means the wills, trusts, and other estate documents that protect our families and secure our legacies may need to change, too.
 
With that in mind, we’re thrilled to have Keith McManus, attorney at McManus Estate Planning, back on the podcast. In our conversation, we discussed the downside of not reviewing and updating your estate plan, different ways to protect your biggest asset such as the family home, and the pros and cons of life estates and much more.
 
In this podcast discussion, you’ll learn: 
  • Reasons why a “set it and forget it” strategy can put your estate at risk.
  • How to take advantage of incredible opportunities before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act sunsets in 2025.
  • Why you may want to prepare estate plans to protect young adult children, even if they haven’t accumulated much wealth yet.
  • What it means to create a life estate–and the potential risks and benefits of this approach to retirement.
  • Why there’s no such thing as a cure-all trust–and how this makes estate planning more important than ever.
  • Why you never want to rely on a will as the backbone of your estate plan.

After the death of a loved one, act quickly to protect an estate.? Retain the services of a proficient estate planning attorney.? For most families, the process of estate administration or the probate of a will starts weeks after the loss. ?However, to achieve an efficient estate settlement, there are certain steps that need to be taken sooner.? According to a recent article ?Protecting an estate requires swift action? from The Record-Courier, it is not always easy to keep a clear head and stay on top of these tasks.? Pushing them aside could lead to serious losses and possible liability.

The first step is to secure the deceased?s home, cars and personal property. The residence needs to be locked to prevent unauthorized access. It may be wise to bring in a locksmith, so that anyone who had been given keys in the past will not be able to go into the house. Cars should be parked inside garages and any personal property needs to be securely stored in the home. Nothing should be moved until the trust administration or probate has been completed. Access to the deceased?s digital assets and devices also need to be secured.

Mail needs to be collected and retrieved to prevent the risk of unauthorized removal of mail and identity theft. If there is no easy access to the mailbox, the post office needs to be notified, so mail can be forwarded to an authorized person?s address.

Estate planning documents need to be located and kept in a safe place. The person who has been named as the executor in the will needs to have those documents. If there are no estate planning documents or if they cannot be located, the family will need to work with an estate planning attorney. The estate may be subjected to a probate proceeding.

One of the responsibilities that most executors don?t know about, is that when a person dies, their will needs to be admitted to the court, regardless whether they had trusts. If the deceased left a will, the executor or the person who has possession of the will must deliver it to the court clerk. Failing to do so could result in large civil liability.

At least five and as many as ten original death certificates should be obtained. The executor will need them when closing accounts. As soon as possible, banks, financial institutions, credit card companies, pension plans, insurance companies and others need to be notified of the person?s passing. The Social Security Administration needs to be notified, so direct deposits are not sent to the person?s bank account. Depending on the timing of the death, these deposits may need to be returned. The same is true if the deceased was a veteran?the Veteran?s Affairs (VA) need to be notified. There may be funeral benefits or survivor benefits available.

It is necessary, even in a time of grief, to protect a loved one?s estate in a timely and thorough manner. McManus Estate Planning LLC, a law firm dedicated to estate planning, will be able to help through this process.

Reference: The Record-Courier (Oct. 17, 2020) ?Protecting an estate requires swift action?

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