If you have suffered the loss of your life partner, my heart goes out to you. Few things in this world are quite as devastating. As a Crosville estate planning lawyer, I know grief can debilitate, and the ‘to-do' list in the immediate aftermath can seem impossible to manage. It might feel like you're leaving everything behind.
Please understand: you need to give yourself a recovery period after the passing of your partner before making important decisions, particularly financial decisions. You're emotionally and mentally exhausted, and you're used to input from someone who's no longer there. And unfortunately, there may be people out there looking to capitalize on your fragile state.
When you've had enough time and it's time to tackle administrative tasks, consider seeking professional help with your decisions, such as a financial advisor, attorney, accountant, or even just a friend or family member who understands finances.
To start the estate administration process, you'll need several financial documents in order, including, but not limited to, social security numbers, birth and marriage certificates, wills, titles to vehicles, company benefit booklets, power of attorney documentation, bank and brokerage account statements, military discharge papers, and insurance policies. You also need any bills or statements that reflect debt or liabilities, such as tax bills, mortgages, utilities, car payments, insurance premiums, and credit cards.
I recommend ordering between ten and twenty copies of your partner's death certificate -- you'll need them for a variety of tasks, and it makes it easier to just have a number on hand.
The process to close out your loved one's estate will depend on what planning they had in place at the time of their death. Even if they had a will and named you executor, you still have to go through the probate process with the local courts to finalize their affairs. If your partner did not have a will and you were not legally married, you'll need to consult a <insert county> probate lawyer about your rights. Laws of succession give priority to blood relatives.
If your partner had a Living Trust, you may still end up dealing with probate if any assets were overlooked and left out.
Our team here at Cumberland Legacy Law in Crossville, Tennessee are here to help you navigate the probate process and discuss your needs. Give us a call at 931-250-8585 to schedule a consultation.