Help with the Loss of a Loved One

Important Issues After A Loved One Dies

Our probate and trust administration team focuses on helping families with the loss of a loved one. Call our office for a no obligation consultation at 303-670-9855. Coping with the loss of a loved one can be difficult and stressful.  We hope this information will help you focus on what you need to address.

Look through the deceased’s papers to find if she or he had a prepaid burial plan, belonged to a memorial society, or had written instructions regarding her/his funeral arrangements.

Ask a trusted friend or family member to go with you to the mortuary to advise and support you in making the funeral and burial arrangements.  Arrangements may include transfer to another location, burial, or cremation. You may ask a clergy member to assist you.

Don’t make any rash decisions or act hastily regarding the distribution of any estate assets. If assets are distributed without proper observance of possible tax liabilities, potential creditors’ claims or precise fulfillment of the will or trust instructions, the administrator could be held personally liable for the consequences.

Contacting the decedent’s estate planning attorney (or if unknown or unavailable, another attorney who specializes in estate planning) and schedule an appointment to establish a professional relationship for guidance and direction to properly handle the estate administrator’s responsibilities.

If you are named Personal Representative (formerly called “Executor”) in a will you have the power, before you are appointed by the court, to carry out written instructions of the deceased relating to the body, funeral, and burial arrangements. You may begin to protect the deceased’s property. Do not remove or distribute property before the opening of the estate.

Death Certificates:  The most common and quickest way to obtain death certificates is through the funeral director. The cost is usually higher for the first death certificate. Additional certificates can be obtained at a lower price. In order to know how many to order, you should estimate the number of different assets held by the deceased or institutions that will require a death certificate. If you do not order enough, you can get more death certificates later through the County Vital Statistics Department where the death occurred or through the Colorado State Department of Public Health and Environment – Vital Records Office.

Estate Planning Documents (wills, trusts, etc.):  The original will is usually in a safe deposit box or in a file at home. Check the attorney’s office for a strong box or file cabinet. When the original signed will is found, file it within ten days with the probate court in the county where the deceased lived. It is also possible the will was filed, during the deceased’s lifetime, with the court for safekeeping.

Safe Deposit Box:  Any person whose name is also on the box may enter it. An heir or beneficiary in a will can ask the bank to search for the will, a deed to a burial plot, or burial instructions. A representative of the bank will open the box in the presence of the heir or beneficiary and remove any will that is found. The bank will retain possession of the will and forward it to the court. After the will is filed with the court, the Personal Representative named in the will can petition the court to appoint her or him.

Asset Documents:  The Personal Representative is the court officer who has authority to search for important papers. The search should include the home, office, place of business, the safe deposit box and with advisors such as accountant, investment professionals and attorney. Any information indicating that an asset exists or that bills are unpaid should be kept for use in the administration of the estate.

At Davis Schilken we have assisted hundreds of families each year through the administration of a loved one’s Trust and/or Estate, and we understand both the personal and legal issues involved in doing so. Our office has the knowledge and expertise to guide families through the many concerns and technicalities of the legal and tax questions that need to be addressed.