Both of My Parents Passed Away: What Should I Do Now?
My Dad passed away years ago. Now my mom has passed away too. What should I do with everything they left behind? My parents left behind a personal legacy, but they also left behind some other items too: a bank account, a house, a car. How do I settle my loved ones’ estate?
If this scenario resembles your current situation, you are not the first person to ask the same question.
First, you should determine whether your parents had an estate plan; did they have a Will? Wills often name a “personal representative” of the deceased individual’s estate, or an individual or entity authorized to administer the estate’s affairs. Take a look at your parents’ Will. If you are named as the personal representative in your parents’ Will, you have administrative authority over the estate. However, even if the Will specifically names you as the personal representative, you still need to file the Will with the courts to be designated as the personal representative. Fortunately, your application will look fairly convincing with the support of a signed Will from your deceased parents. But according to a May 4-8, 2016 Gallup poll, only 44% of Americans have a Will.[i]
What should you do if your parents never created a Will?
If there is no Will, and no one is explicitly named as a personal representative, the courts will appoint the first applicant that goes unchallenged. That means, if no family members or close friends apply, the bank could potentially attain personal representative status if their application goes unchallenged. Many probate disputes have been fought between applicants for personal representative status because the victor controls the deceased person’s assets and money. If your parents did not create a Will, you may have to challenge another individual’s application for personal representative status with the courts, or in the alternative, your application could be challenged.
Navigating the intricacies of the probate process can be difficult and confusing. Fortunately, the estate planning attorneys at Hepworth & Associates can be your guide.
Call (801) 872-2222 to speak to a lawyer today.
The information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is intended to constitute legal advice, and by no means should be construed as such.