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What SHOULD You Do When Somebody Dies? 

Florida attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is a 2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyer in Trusts & Estates Litigation.

What SHOULD You Do When Somebody Dies?

Reed and the Bloodworth Law Trust and Estate Litigation team frequently get calls from people who ask: “what should you do when somebody dies?”

They want to know what legal documents are needed and what they should be doing. Here is a general list of legal paperwork to gather, organize, and keep in one place:

#1. Is There a Trustee or Personal Representative?

Is there a surviving spouse, partner, child, or friend who knows who the personal representative or the trustee is? Ask them to be told of the death.

#2. Is There a Will or a Trust?

If you don’t know if there is a will or a trust, look for an original will or paperwork leading to a trust established by the decedent.

#3. Gather Paperwork for the Assets

#4. Pull Together Bills, Creditors, Debts

#5. Locate Keys to Property, Vehicles, Etc.

Find the keys: to the house, car, vehicles, boat, vacation property, rental property, safe deposit box.

#6. Locate the Checkbook(s).

#7. Are There Any Outstanding Payments?

Find out if there are outstanding checks and automatic payments set up.

#8. Find the Credit Cards

#9. Find the Insurance Policies

#10. Find the Investments

#11. Notify Bank of Death

#12. Payable On Death

Ask the bank if there are payable on death beneficiaries on accounts. Because if there’s NOT a payable on death beneficiary, you’re going to have to go to a probate attorney.

#13. Contact Social Security: Very Important

#14. Safe Deposit Box Access?

If there is a safe deposit box, you’ll have to gain access to that. But you will have to go to the court to get approval if you’re not a signer on the box. You’ll have to contact a probate attorney.

#15. 12-15 Death Certificates

Make sure you collect at least 12 to 15 death certificates to send to insurance, government, banks, debtors, etc.

#16. Expect problems? Call Probate Litigator

Do you know or feel there are going to be problems or fights between beneficiaries, relatives? A fight changes things and you may need to speak to a skilled probate litigator.

These are some of the things that you SHOULD do when someone dies. If you are having problems with a will or a trust, whether you are a trustee, a beneficiary, or a personal representative, talk with Reed about what Bloodworth Law can do to help you, your family, or your business.

Attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law in Orlando and Winter Haven and handles trust and estate litigation, and estate planning for clients across Florida.

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