Have you always enjoyed your relationship with your parents, both as a child and as an adult? If you have, you know that the loss of a parent is distressing. In fact, as adults many of us still turn to our parents for their wise guidance and experience. But now that your last remaining parent has just passed away, what do you need to do and what questions should you ask?
With the recent passing of your remaining parent, have you been named and assigned a role in the final affairs of your deceased parent? Have you been named the personal representative of the last will and testament or as the successor trustee of a trust agreement? These roles come with significant responsibilities and we know it may raise important questions that you need answered before moving forward in this capacity. We would like to answer a few of the most frequent estate planning questions we hear from our clients after the loss of a parent.
1.Should you make a list of all of the assets you know that were owned by your deceased parent? Yes. A house and a car may be normal to expect but what about stocks, investment accounts, insurance policies or digital currency?
2. How can you identify what income your parent was receiving on a monthly or annual basis? You need to check the mail, look for statements, and look at digital accounts if you have access. Be aware that when a person is deceased the money that is received after death may need to be returned.
3. Do you need to keep track of any and all bills that are being received? Yes, in fact, watch the mail, look at digital accounts if you have access to them, and also keep track of your expenses if you have paid for anything. Expenses may include, but not be limited to, utilities, cable, phone, health care expenses and premiums, and expenses for final arrangements. You will need to bring these expenses to the probate attorney you choose to work with so they can be correctly managed.
4. Do you know if your parent completed any estate planning? If the answer is yes, do you have his or her estate plan? Is it the original? Are you named as the personal representative of the last will and testament or trustee of the trust agreement? If you do not know the answer to these questions or have concerns about them, do not feel alone. Your estate planning and probate attorney can help you determine what to do next.
5. Have you consulted with an attorney experienced in this area? We highly recommend that you research, locate and retain an experienced Florida estate planning and probate attorney. There are specific statutes and rules governing the matters of probate or estate administration, for a last will and testament, and trust administration, for trust agreements. There is no replacement for experience in this area.
6. Have you neglected your own estate planning? Seeing how prepared your parent was for his or her passing and knowing you have not completed your estate plan, now is the time to begin. Do not wait to meet with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney, perhaps even the attorney you worked with during the handling of the estate of your deceased parent who you know can be trusted to help you with your estate plan.
Finally, you may be facing the opposite scenario and are not named in the estate plan of your parent. This could mean that you have not been assigned a role of responsibility, are only meant to be a beneficiary of the overall estate, or are not included at all for some reason. It also may mean that your parent did not take the time to create an estate plan and he or she has passed away intestate, or without a will. In this latter instance, the distribution of the estate of your parent will be governed by the state of Florida law. You should still consult with an experienced Florida estate planning and probate attorney to learn more about what both of these scenarios could mean for you.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At the Law Office of Brian C. Perlin, P.A., our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services. By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.