When someone you love dies, it is very difficult to think straight, and you may not feel like you are up to settling your loved one's affairs. That's okay. When you meet with a probate or estate administration attorney, we will help you understand the next steps.
As a widower myself, as well as a probate and estate administration attorney, I know that what I am about to ask is no an easy task. I have put together this checklist to help my clients get organized for meeting with me. You do not have to have everything gathered, but as much information you can share with me in the initial meeting, the better I will be able to frame the right course of action and give you a sense of peace that you have everything covered. If at all possible, I would like for you to bring:
- An original Death Certificate. In Florida, we have a Florida Certification of Death that comes in "long forms" and "short forms." The "long forms" contains the cause of death and the "short forms" are identical but do not contain the cause of death. I would most likely like to see both forms of death certificates, especially if there is life insurance or an annuity that will need to be settled.
- The original Last Will and Testament (and original the decedent's original Trust). It is important for me to be able to review the original instruments because I need to understand straight away if the documents were executed properly and in conformance to the statutes.
- Paid Funeral Receipts. This must be filed with the court in both a summary and formal probate administration. For some reason, these receipts seem to disappear over time, and it's best to get a copy as soon as possible.
- A contact list for all heirs, including their current address, phone numbers, and email addresses. If any of the beneficiaries are minors, then who their parents are. If any of the beneficiaries had predeceased the decedent, as much information as you know about where and when they died.
- Your Driver's License or State Identification Card. As an attorney, I will need to identify you positively and I will need this information to prepare the Estate Administration documents.
- Any Bills of the Decedents. A big part of the estate settlement work is dealing formally with creditors, and we will need to prepare a list of all known creditors.
- The decedent's check register. Same thing as above. I will need this information to help resolve potential liquidity issues for the estate, as well as who are the known creditors.
- The decedent's driver's license or identification card. (and passport). I will need this information to compare to the death certificate to make sure that the Death Certificate will not need to be amended before beginning the Estate Administration, as well as verify the county of domicile for where the probate action needs to be filed.
- The decedent's wallet. This is also a good way to understand potential creditors to the estate (i.e.credit card issues), and the wallet may contain important documents like voter registration to help establish domicile.
- Any asset statements, such as bank statements, investment account statements, car titles/registrations, IRA statements, Annuity Statements, and Life Insurance Policies.
You may not have everything on this list, and that's okay. But if you can use this list to help organize your thoughts and create a list of questions, our visit will be more productive.
I am here to guide you through the estate administration process and address all of your concerns. We will explain how Florida estate administration laws apply to your case in a way you can understand.
Give us a call. We can help.
Law Office of Shawn C. Newman, P.A.
710 Northeast 26th Street
Wilton Manors, FL 33305-1238
Phone: (954) 563-9160
Serving all of the greater Fort Lauderdale area and Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties in Southern Florida.