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What are the steps for settling an estate?

A:

Quick Answer

Some steps involved in settling an estate involve locating the will, finding agencies the individual belonged to and getting appraisal for inventory assets, explains Nolo. Some other things that require action include contacting the successor trustee, deciding if probate is necessary, talking to beneficiaries and collecting money for the estate.

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Full Answer

The first step of settling an estate is to find out if the person had a will, advises Nolo. If the person had a lawyer, contact the lawyer first to find out whether a will exists. If this is unknown, look through his personal belongings to try and locate a copy of it. It might be in his filing cabinet, desk or fireproof safe, either at home or at work. It might also be inside a safe deposit box. Look around his home or office for a key to the box to find out if the will or other important paperwork is inside.

If a will exists, file it with the probate court, as this is required by law. The next step involves contacting the businesses and agencies associated with the deceased person to notify them of his death. This may include a credit card company, bank, post office and utility company, notes Nolo. If he received benefits such as Social Security, contact those agencies as well. Look through his inventory and start getting appraisals. This is necessary if the estate goes through probate.

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