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5 Things to do Before you Meet with an Attorney to Probate an Estate

When a relative dies, it’s a very complicated, challenging and painfully sad process. Grieving with your loss while trying to navigate the probate process alone is more than most people can cope with. As a result, most people hire an attorney to help them complete a probate. Probate is the name given to the process of collecting and managing the assets; debts or taxes; and distributions of property of a person who has died. Once you found an attorney to help you through the probate process, there are 5 things you can do to prepare for your first meeting.

First, we recommend ordering several certified copies of the death certificate. Death certificates are used in planning and carrying out the probate process in many ways from providing a copy to the Court to forwarding copies to account holders and life insurance providers. If possible, bring at least one certified copy of the death certificate to your first meeting with your probate attorney.

Second, determine if there is an existing written Will, or written Estate Plan. Finding the original documents and providing these documents to your probate attorney will help in the determination of whether probate is required or not. For instance, if there is a trust, probate might not be necessary. If probate is necessary, many states require that the original will be filed with the Court during the probate process. Locating and bringing this to your probate attorney will avoid delays.

Third, once the written Will or Estate Plan is located, you can determine who the personal representative, or executor, of the estate is. This person is usually identified in the written Will or Estate Plan. Bring copies of these documents with you to your meeting with your attorney so that the person named as the personal representative, or executor, of the estate can be contacted by the probate attorney.

The fourth step, if possible, is to collect as much information as you can concerning all the assets and debts of the person who has died. For example, it would be helpful at your first meeting to provide your probate attorney with copies of any existing life insurance policies, retirement accounts or pensions, bank account statements, and the latest tax return. In addition to these documents, copies of any and all real property deeds or mortgages should be gathered and delivered to your probate attorney.

Fifth, if you can identify them, bring a written list of the names, addresses and phone numbers, of all your loved one’s children, relatives, or family members. These individuals may be the heirs or beneficiaries of the person who died and your probate attorney may need to contact them during the probate process.

By preparing all of these documents and information, your first meeting with your probate attorney should be successful.

Please call Attorneys Jamie Ryke and Andrew Thav, the Michigan Probate Attorneys. Our law firm will be with you every step of the way. The Probate Lawfirm of Thav Ryke and Associates in Southfield, Michigan can be reached at (248) 945-1111.