Probate Secrets: Safeguard The Estate Assets Promptly After Death


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Sadly the death of a person seems to attract predators.

Remember the dream in Dickens' Christmas Carol when Ebenezer has died and his maid is stealing his bed linens? Unfortunately things like that can occur in real life.

Some burglars read the obituaries and break into the decedent's home during the funeral. Sometimes neighbors or relatives help themselves to household items shortly after the death or even when the person is in his or her final illness. Sometimes a family member who has a power of attorney will deplete the decedent's bank account shortly before or even after the death.

In our experience, the Loved One's family is most vulnerable to these thefts in the ten days after the death while everyone is still in shock and denial. This is why it is so important for the family to take preventive action to secure the decedent's estate.

Arrangements should be made for a home-watcher at least during the funeral. Banks and creditors should be notified of the death. Often it's a good idea to change the locks at the home since often many people may have had access to the home while the decedent lived there. An inventory should be taken soon after the death to avoid disappearance of items. (If not in writing, even a videotape of the interior of the home can document what things were there at the time of death.)

Occasionally some family members may consider these precautionary measures to be insensitive. They might think it is distasteful or materialistic. However, later when the missing items or other assets cannot be accounted for, the family will wish that it took preventive steps at the time of the death of the loved one. This is especially true of family heirlooms and antiques that are irreplaceable.

Finally, people can be charged with crimes if they have taken items from the estate without authorization. This is especially true of an estate that is going through the probate process. While some may think it�s �ok� to take Grandma�s old china, they may not realize that it is part of an estate and must be administered according to the law. This act could have serious repercussions for the individual.

Again, a simple walk through and recording of the estate soon after the death can save a lot of heartache later on. Protecting the estate should be a top priority during this time. After all, one would certainly look out for their Loved One while they are alive; why should it be any different after they pass away?

The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not, without our express written consent, be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.

About the Author

 

Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Probate Attorney with over 40 years of experience as a lawyer. His firm, Peterson Law Office, is pleased to help sort out the intricacies of Minnesota Probate. For more information, please visit http://www.mnprobate.com or call toll free at 1-888-910-5297.

The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.

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