After someone you love passes away, a perfect storm exists: you are likely at your most vulnerable and emotionally drained, but at the same time, you are tasked with the heavy burden of winding up his or her affairs. Administering an estate is typically not an easy job. From the physical work of cleaning out homes and gathering up personal possessions to the more technical tasks of closing accounts, dealing with creditors, and distributing assets, there is a lot to be done and it can quickly start to feel overwhelming. The good news, however, is that you do not have to do this alone. Our experienced probate and trust administration team is here to help ease the burden and let you focus on healing.
What is probate?
Probate is the process the court overseeing the winding up a person’s affairs after he or she has passed away. This includes paying the debts of the decedent and transferring title of the assets from the person who has passed away to the new owner. Each state has its own set of laws that govern the probate process; however, the first step is filing the death certificate and the petition to allow the will (if there is one) and appoint a personal representative. The person representative is the person who is in charge of administering the estate and is tasked with complying with all of the requisite rules and laws. This includes various filings that will have to be made periodically with the court throughout the process. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, you can generally anticipate the process to take about a year.
What should I do if I was named the successor trustee of my loved one’s trust?
If your loved one had a trust, some or all of the assets of the estate may avoid probate. Instead of going through the probate process, the trustee administers the trust in accordance with its terms. Your first step if you are named successor trustee should be to contact an experienced Hampton trust administration attorney who can help you formally “accept” your appointment as trustee. From there, you will have various responsibilities, including the following:
- Making sure the assets of the trust are safeguarded. For example, if your loved one’s home was held in the trust, you may need to make sure the home is winterized. You also may need to change the locks.
- Communicating with the beneficiaries of the trust on a regular basis.
- Distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust.
- Terminating the trust when the trust administration is complete.
Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust. Attorney Candice O’Neil can help make sure that you are fulfilling all of your responsibilities during this process.
5 Things to Do After Your Loved One Passes Away in New Hampshire
Even though you may be under a great deal of stress after your loved one passes away, it is important to take action quickly with regard to their estate administration. Some of the tasks that should be started right away include the following:
- Call an experienced New Hampshire estate administration attorney and schedule a consultation.
- Obtain multiple copies of your loved one’s death certificate. You will need these throughout the process.
- If your loved one had a will or a trust, obtain copies and carefully review their terms with the guidance of your attorney.
- Gather as much information as you can about your loved one’s finances.
- Monitor your loved one’s mail so that you can address bills as they come due. This can also provide clues as to your loved one’s financial assets if you are not clear what they had before they passed away.
While these tasks may seem overwhelming, you are not in this alone. Our team of experienced New Hampshire estate administration attorneys can help you every step of the way.
Waiting to take action after your loved one passes away can put the assets at risk and lead to legal and tax complications. Let us get started helping you through this process by contacting us today at (603) 434-1770 or completing our easy online form below.