| Read Time: 4 minutes | Elder Law

After losing one parent, you may see that your surviving parent is struggling with the legal and financial tasks that come afterward. After all, they are grieving and the last thing they should have to deal with is the paperwork, phone calls, and endless to-do items.

As an adult child, there are things you can do to help your parent. While some of these tasks can wait, others may need to be addressed immediately. Therefore, consider this list of tasks that must be done and see what you can tackle first.

10 Steps to Take after a Parent Dies in Plainview, NY

You are going through an emotional time, but there are legal and financial tasks that you must complete so that you can truly put your loved one to rest. To help your surviving parent, we have compiled a list of ten must-do tasks. Some of these you can do alone, while others you should consult an attorney for to ensure that you are following New York’s laws.

1. Locate All Assets

Even if your surviving parent is named as the executor, you can help by finding all the assets. Ask your parent what assets they have, and where they might be located. Make a master spreadsheet that has all bank and brokerage account information, retirement accounts, insurance plans, real estate, safe deposit boxes, and significant assets that are vital to the estate.

2. List All Debts

See if you can create a list of debts the estate owes, such as mortgages, car payments, credit cards, private loans, and student loans. Review that list with your surviving parent and ask to see any bank records or financial statements so that you can get account numbers, balances, and the contact information for each creditor in order.

3. Apply for Social Security

Help your loved one apply for Social Security benefits (if they are eligible). You can find information for your local SSA office online and pay attention to survivor’s benefits. You can also ask about other benefits your surviving parent may be entitled to, such as veterans pay, pension accounts, or any employer-related payments.

4. Review the Will

Your parents most likely had a will drafted. Therefore, you need to get a copy of that will and review it. See what wishes your parent laid out in that will, including who was named the executor. If the executor is not yourself or your surviving parent, contact the executor right away so that they may begin their task of settling the estate.

5. Meet with an Attorney

Whether the estate goes to probate or not, it is best that you meet with an attorney to review your options. An attorney can help ensure that all assets are accounted for and distributed in accordance with the will, but also that any minor steps required by the state are addressed so that your family’s estate completes the process as quickly as possible.

6. Update Wills and Trusts

If your surviving parent has a will or trust, now is the time to have those documents updated. Most likely they would have named their primary beneficiary as the spouse that has passed away; therefore, they will need to designate new beneficiaries.

Also, your surviving parent may need to update their healthcare directive and executor roles.

7. Create a Financial Power of Attorney

Have your surviving parent make a financial power of attorney. This document will name someone that handles their financial matters if they become incapacitated. The party can handle everything from managing investments to paying bills and it is a critical document for a widowed spouse to have.

8. Start Organizing

Once the documents are created, your parent’s estate probated, and the turmoil has settled, the next step is to help your surviving parent organize the documents. A good estate plan will not help if the documents are not organized and prepared in case the unthinkable were to happen.

Create a filing system that includes all power of attorney documentation, bank and brokerage account information, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and the updated will and trust.

9. Update Insurance Policies

One overlooked step is updating insurance policies. Make sure that your surviving parent picks a new insurance beneficiary. Insurance designations are not the same as an estate plan. The beneficiary named on an insurance policy will trump any name in an estate plan; therefore, you want to ensure your surviving parent updates this as quickly as possible.

10. Find a Support Group

One of the best ways to help a grieving loved one is a support group. There are many support groups offered by local churches, hospitals, and community centers. They offer support to those who have lost a spouse, including specialty groups for spouses that have lost loved ones to illnesses like cancer.

Need Assistance with Administering a Loved One’s Estate?

After losing a parent, the last thing you need to worry about is the tedious steps involved with settling an estate. Meet with an estate planning attorney who can help you with probate and estate administration. An attorney is a neutral third-party that can help provide you with advice, insight, and even update documents so that your surviving parent is taken care of.

To explore your options or to get assistance with probate, speak with the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C.

Schedule a free case evaluation at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

Author Photo

Andrew Lamkin is principal in the law firm of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., where he focuses his practice in the areas of elder law, estate planning and special needs planning, including Wills and Trusts, Medicaid planning, estate administration and residential real estate transactions. He is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.

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