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What to do with a loved one's estate after he or she passes

There are many responsibilities left to the family members when a loved one passes away. The people who are in charge of that person's estate may find they have many responsibilities -- some of which they weren't even aware of. Here are some things to keep in mind if you find yourself filling the role of the executor or trustee of the will.

-- Find all of your loved one's important papers. You may find directions for the funeral, such as what music he or she wanted played or if memorial services were desired instead of a full funeral.

-- Get copies of the person's death certificates. You may be able to obtain this from the funeral home or the local clerk of records.

-- An obituary or death notice should be published in the local newspapers. This is sometimes handled by the funeral home.

-- Notify friends and family members of your loved one's death. In addition, his or her financial advisor, accountant and attorney should be notified. You may also need to contact the Social Security Administration, his or her bank, insurance agencies and perhaps even his or her employer.

-- Make a list of assets. If you are the executor of the will, you will need to file a probate petition. Get assets valuated, pay any federal or state income and estate taxes that are due and pay any debts that should be paid out of the estate assets.

-- Distribute your loved one's assets as he or she requested.

The job of trustee or executor is not one that should be taken lightly. It's your responsibility to ensure that all of the estate planning things are completed in accordance with local, state and federal laws. If you have questions, an experienced estate planning attorney can help.

Source: Daily Finance, "Death and Finances: Eight Things to Do After a Loved One Passes Away," accessed May. 08, 2015

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