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After a Death

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Steps necessary for a Wyoming estate executor or personal representative after a death.

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After a Death

  1. 1. AFTER A DEATH: WHAT STEPS? Bill Taylor Northeast Area Community Development Educator
  2. 2. After death: Family, friends, attorney, personal representative, others have many steps to perform to legally close affairs of “decedent.” Could take months to years depending on complexity of estate. Require navigating complex web of federal and state laws.
  3. 3. REFERENCES • PLANNING AHEAD; DIFFICULT DECISIONS University of Wyoming Extension bulletin series; September 2013; Aaron Lyttle, Cole Ehmke, Mary Martin, Bill Taylor; available at http://www.wyomingextension.org/publication s and enter Lyttle as author • Aaron Lyttle, attorney-at-law with Long, Reimer, Winegar, Beppler
  4. 4. PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE (PR) • Person appointed by the court to administer the affairs of the decedent’s estate – Often named in the will and approved by the court – Also known as “executor” or “administrator” • These responsibilities would also be held by a successor trustee of a revocable living trust
  5. 5. REPORT To appropriate authorities, if not done by institution or hospital staff
  6. 6. LOCATE INFORMATION • Safe deposit box – locate key – Bank may demand death certificate & court document called “Letters Testamentary” giving PR right to open • Locate original wills, trust documents, life insurance policies, vehicle titles • Locate decedent’s Social Security Number • Locate all User Identification and Passwords – Social media, merchants, email, domain names, gaming, utilities, financial, banking, other – Look in decedent’s bookmarks and browser history
  7. 7. MAIL Re-route mail to PR or other location
  8. 8. CANCEL • Cancel prepaid items – ask for refunds – Magazine subscriptions, health insurance, etc.
  9. 9. PROTECT ASSETS • • • • Notify bank & credit card issuers Change door locks Remove valuable property to safe custody Any other steps to keep estate intact until distribution • Move vehicles to storage (It is surprising how many items begin to disappear, even in well-meaning families.)
  10. 10. OTHER IMMEDIATE ISSUES • • • • Arrange care for pets Clean out refrigerator & freezer Determine if property taxes were paid Determine if there is adequate homeowner’s insurance and all significant items are adequately insured
  11. 11. PAYROLL • Make final payments to domestic help, nurses, caregivers, etc. – PR may make severance payment from estate as deemed appropriate – If payments to employees or other help was done in cash, seek professional help if payments totaled more than $1000 to any individual – employment taxes may need to be paid and W-2 forms completed
  12. 12. HEIR INFORMATION • Names, addresses, phone numbers, SSN of all who will inherit • If probate required: – Notify all who would have inherited if there had been no will • Gather their names & addresses • Spouse, children, grandchildren, etc. • If no spouse or children: – Parents, brothers, sisters (or nieces/nephews, etc. if siblings deceased)
  13. 13. BENEFITS • Return SS benefits paid for month of death – Visit w/ SS representative 1st on this and other potential benefits • VA burial benefit – May be available for a veteran – Need death certificate & discharge papers
  14. 14. DEBTS • List all debts – Outstanding bills, charge cards, property taxes, utilities, loans, leases, mortgages, vehicles, alimony, etc. • Publish notice in generally circulated newspaper for 3 weeks – Start time limit in which creditors have to file claims
  15. 15. PROBATE File petition w/ court to admit will to probate or affidavit of summary distribution (if available)
  16. 16. CREDITORS • Allow 3 months from public notice for creditors to file claim against estate – PR compile & report to court • Creditors have opportunity to object
  17. 17. SUPPORT • Check whether Wyoming law provides allowances to spouse and/or minor children during probate – Homestead & other exempt property – Furniture & apparel – Court-ordered support
  18. 18. SETTLE • Settle all: – Tax debts – Creditor claims – Final expenses – Administration expenses – Etc.
  19. 19. ACCOUNTS • Close or manage: – Online accounts and assets – Social media, merchants, email, domain names, gaming, utility, financial, banking, othe r accounts • Use IDs and passwords located earlier
  20. 20. REPORT • File final report and accounting with court after estate is settled • If satisfied, court will release PR and close estate