Whether it was your spouse or a parent or someone else close to you, mourning the loss of a loved one is a difficult time for anyone. Having to settle the financial and legal issue amidst your time of mourning can add to the stress you are already weighed down with. It is important to remember to take your time to grieve; these issues can wait a week or two without any repercussions. When you do find yourself ready to settle your loved one’s estate, here are a few helpful steps to guide you through this difficult time.

  • First, seek advice from an attorney familiar with Probate,  Elder Law and Estate Planning in order to ensure that you are given the legal advice that you need in order to make the best decisions for yourself and your family in this critical time.
  • Create an inventory of assets owned by your loved one including personal property, real estate, vehicles, or anything else the decedent owned. Bring this list when you meet with the attorney.
  • Do not take any other action without first getting legal advice.  People often seek to pay bills or notify banks or other entities before seeking legal advice and this can lead to loss of legal options or complication of the probate process that could be avoided if legal advice is sought first.
  • Under most circumstances in Florida, no estate may go through probate without an attorney.  If you have been named the personal representative in the will for your loved one, bring the original will, the original death certificate and the inventory of assets to your appointment with an attorney that practices probate law.