What should I immediately do when my loved one passes?

The news that a loved one has just passed can be heartbreaking news, even if the passing was expected. While it is important to take some time to grieve, as a survivor and close family member, you also have a duty to make sure the estate is preserved so everything that the deceased had owned can be handled according to the New York decedent’s will. Agingcare.com points out that the first immediate step you should take is to secure all the tangible property that the deceased owned.

Tangible property is anything that you can physically touch, so that would include anything in the deceased’s home, like kitchen silverware and plates, or items you would find in a living room like a television screen, a couch, chairs, a table, lamps or wall art. This should be done as soon as possible. In the aftermath of a person's death, it is possible for the decedent’s possessions to start going missing, particularly if family members or friends of the deceased have access to the decedent’s home. 

Your goal in securing the property of the deceased, besides making sure nothing is lost, is to create an inventory of all the assets. When the probate process begins, you want to have the inventory on hand so you can file it with the probate court in a timely manner. It is also wise to contact a probate lawyer as soon as possible. A probate attorney will understand all the relevant paperwork that should be filed, including an asset inventory. Early consultation will help ensure that you do not get tripped up when the probate process commences, or if someone contests the estate assets.

Another reason to gather the decedent’s property and assets quickly is when the bills start coming due. Just because a person has passed does not mean their expenses die with them. A court may also rule that some debts and bills are to be paid from assets from the estate. Making sure none of the assets are lost can help ensure that creditors are paid and that some if not most of the inheritance will remain afterward. So while composing an inventory, it is important to also list all the liabilities the deceased incurred in life.

This article, while intended to educate readers on asset preservation, is not to be taken as legal advice.

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