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  • Writer's pictureChiang Law Firm

WHAT INFORMATION TO GATHER WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES

Updated: 4 days ago


When a loved one passes away, what steps to take next can seem like an overwhelming task. Some families call my office the same day that their family member passes, mostly because they're just at a loss of what to do.


First, you must gather information. The more information that you can gather and share with us at the first meeting, the better I can advise you about what kind of court process, if any, might be needed. The following checklist should help you prepare for your meeting with me.


ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS

  • ORIGINAL Death Certificates

  • ORIGINAL Last Will and Testament

  • Revocable Living Trust Documents 

FINANCIAL/ASSET INFORMATION

  • Life Insurance Policies, and Beneficiary Designations 

  • Financial Account Statements, and Beneficiary Designations 

  • Federal and Gift Tax Returns for the last three years

  • Real Estate Deeds, and Beneficiary Designations 

  • Vehicle Titles, and Beneficiary Designations 

  • Business Agreement Documents 

  • Contracts

  • Loans taken out by deceased and loans owing to deceased 

  • Appraisal Valuations for High-Value Belongings (Art, Jewelry, Collectibles)

  • List of unusual assets like cryptocurrencies, bonds, oil and gas/mineral rights, or inheritances

  • Ongoing Bills

  • List of Known Debts

  • List of Medical and Funeral Expenses 

  • Deceased's Medicaid information


OTHER LEGAL DOCUMENTS

  • Pre Nuptial or Post Nuptial Agreements

  • Marriage Certificates

  • Divorce Decrees

  • Adoption Orders

  • Texas DL or ID and SSN for the Deceased (required for probate, and IRS forms, just number is ok)

  • Texas DL or ID and SSN for the Executor (required for probate, and IRS forms, just number is ok)

CONTACT INFORMATION

  • Contact Information for Executors/Trustees, Heirs and Beneficiaries

  • Contact information for family members

  • Contact information for financial planner, CPA, insurance agents

It might be extremely challenging to get this information. This is why I always tell my estate planning clients that assembling all the information for their heirs PRIOR to disability or death is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the estate planning process, especially if that information is locked online behind passwords and 2 factor authentication. It will always be easier for the principal to gather and organize that information than it will be for a spouse or a child, especially when they're trying to do it in a rush, while they are grieving.


In addition, having complete information about beneficiaries and assets is critically important as certain assets do not need a formal probate process to pass to a beneficiary, but other assets, typically financial institution assets without a payable on death beneficiary, must go through the formal probate process to pass to a beneficiary, but it really depends on the beneficiaries and the assets that are provided to the attorney at the consultation.


If you had a loved one who recently passed away and need an attorney to probate the estate, or an attorney to answer your estate planning questions, contact CHIANG LAW FIRM PLLC at 713-568-9206 and schedule a consultation with us today!




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