When someone passes away, family members often find themselves asking an estate planning or probate lawyer what they should do. If the individual had a will or other aspects of a plan in place, then the probate or estate planning lawyer will help with the execution of that plan and the probate process. While this certainly can help things run more smoothly, there are administrative tasks that have to be carried out, regardless of whether there is an estate plan or not. One of these is to get an accounting of the estate.
Because most people either having nothing more than a will, or no will at all, most estates will have to go through probate, and the courts will appoint an administrator (or executor) who is in charge of taking care of each step in the process. The executor will often make things a bit less overwhelming by hiring a local estate planning lawyer. One of the first things either the courts or the lawyer will tell the executor is that they need to create a list of assets.
Again, an experienced probate or estate planning lawyer is incredibly helpful in compiling this list. He or she will have suggestions on where to look to find assets, accounts, insurance policies, etc. County records, for example, might offer insight into the ownership of property. The lawyer may be able to help uncover safe deposit boxes, outstanding payments due to the estate, and much more. The Internet can also be a useful tool because it can offer access to unclaimed property.
A particularly frustrating situation can arise when a potential heir was not involved in the distribution of a loved one's estate. He or she may have to use various methods to determine how any inheritance was distributed and even get the courts involved if it appears that things were not done properly. This is a difficult, but sometimes necessary undertaking and should definitely be done with the guidance of an experienced probate or estate planning lawyer for several reasons:
- The lawyer will have the legal expertise necessary to set things in motion.
- The lawyer will be able to communicate with other attorneys involved in the case.
- A probate or estate planning lawyer can help steer clients clear of scams that are intended to look like resources that should be helpful.
- The lawyer will know where to look to uncover what has become of various assets.
Whether you are an executor tasked with compiling a list of an estate's assets or you are a concerned party who may have been mistreated in the distribution of the estate, it is a good idea to see how a probate or estate planning lawyer may be able to help you get things cleared up and on track. If you need help getting started, call us at 931-250-8585 to schedule a consultation. Our office is located in Crossville, Tennessee.