When Someone Dies

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Chapter 1: As Death Approaches
Checklist:
• Who's in charge before the death?
• Does the person have an advance medical directive, also called a durable power of attorney for health care?
• If the person prepared an advance directive/durable power of attorney for health care...
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A Helpful Guide for Executors

For specific questions about wills, probates, estate planning, and other matters including laws in specific states, we highly recommend The Executor's Guide: Settling a Loved One's Estate or Trust published by Nolo Press.

Practical Help

If you’re visiting this website, there’s a good chance someone you love has just died. Both of us have recently lost loved ones, and we’ve endured the grief that now consumes you. But this is not a book about grief or grieving. This is a succinct, step-by-step guide to all the practical things you must do after someone dies. Read more

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Q
What if a father passes with no spouse and only two living children - but one of the children walked away from the relationship. Because of this, the father has told only contact child they would inherit everything but hadn't created a will. Is surviving child responsible in contacting other sibling and or sharing? While Court take walk-away decision into consideration?
A
Generally, without a will, the two brothers inherit equally. The fact that one brother ‘renounced’ the relationship does not mean anything, although if he clearly has no interest then he can refuse the inheritance. The person in charge of the estate usually is required to notify all heirs. If you intend to avoid paying, you... read more
Q
After my husband died unexpectedly 10 years ago, I consulted a lawyer intending to make a will, as I have 2 adult children. ( We did not have a will before.) The lawyer said that in my circumstances (a house, cars, etc. but no business or other complications) he advised making a living will, a healthcare power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and a transfer on death deed to my property--in place of a will. (I would place transfer on death clauses on my cars, bank accounts etc.) So pretty well, the only things not covered would be furniture, etc. I did not make a will. Is this the proper plan, or should I make a will anyway? This is my concern.
A
Dear Cleta, Thanks for your letter. You would benefit from a will. Note your lawyer recommended a living will, and that is not clear to me what he meant. You can, and should, add your children as signatories on all bank accounts so that they can access money immediately upon your death. But a will... read more
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