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Steps To Take When A Loved One Dies In Ohio

It is important to understand what steps should be taken when a family member passes away. Often, people panic about what things should be immediately taken care of and what the process will be for administering the deceased person’s estate.

The following is a list of steps that should be followed to fully address these concerns:

  1. Address the funeral arrangements first. (See if the decedent has any written funeral declarations setting forth his or her wishes.)
  2. Secure the house and other property.
  3. Don’t worry about paying the bills, transferring assets or opening an estate until burial and funeral services complete. Allow yourself a period to grieve.
  4. Look for the original will and trust documents.
  5. Collect bills, bank statements and tax returns if they can be located.
  6. Contact an attorney to determine whether or not an estate needs to be opened. If assets were held jointly or if assets had a beneficiary, it is not necessary to probate the estate. The assets can be transferred directly to the co-owner or beneficiary without probate court intervention. Usually, a certified death certificate needs to be presented in order to release the funds to the joint owner or beneficiary.
  7. If an estate is opened, there is a period of time in which creditors can assert claims. These claims need to be evaluated and either paid or rejected by the administrator or executor of the estate.
  8. Contact an accountant to determine if final federal, state and locate tax returns need to be filed for the decedent. If there is income earned on the assets after death, estate income tax returns may need to be filed as well.
  9. If an estate is opened, the legitimate bills, estate administration expenses and taxes must be paid first before distribution to the beneficiaries.
  10. If there are not enough estate assets to pay all bills, expenses and taxes, the estate is considered insolvent and a proceeding to determine the order of payment of debts must be held by the probate court.

It is always wise to consult with an attorney to determinate which of these steps apply to your situation and to formulate a plan for addressing all of the matters that necessarily must be resolved at the time of someone’s death.