Losing a loved one is something that no one wants to think about—it’s just too hard to contemplate. Nonetheless, we will all have to deal with this inevitable event at some point. There’s so much that goes into the months after a loss. Managing the grief, seeking support for family members and loved ones who need it, and of course, also figuring out how to manage the inheritance left to heirs and beneficiaries.
Money is another thing no one likes to talk about, especially when it’s wrapped up with loss and grief. Money and assets are, however, a natural part of dealing with a lost loved one. Unless the person you lost owned literally nothing, they’ll be leaving things to their heirs, and their life insurance plan will have beneficiaries. Instead of avoiding the topic, let’s take a look at some ways to manage a loved one’s estate.
Find a way to get the inheritance untied during the probate process.
Despite the common perception of inheritance processes, it’s much more complicated than sitting down with an attorney who reads out the will and lists who gets what. A last will and testament can be a complicated document, especially if the deceased owned real estate properties or had some of the inheritance in a trust. This can inhibit the process of moving on, not to mention keeps heirs from covering costs that may have been left behind by the deceased.
If you or other heirs want to access the inheritance and can’t because the probate process is taking too long, it’s worth knowing that probate estate loans provide a good option. A probate loan is a loan that allows the heirs to cover various costs (paying down debts or owed amounts for medical care, for example) while the estate works itself out.
Find an attorney you can trust.
The attorney you hire will be your personal representative, just like the executor is the personal representative of the deceased. It’s key to find a legal representative who has a lot of experience in managing inheritance funds and property taxes, as well as someone who can be sensitive to the nature of these transactions. For example, if your loved one frequented a church supply store and had a home full of candles, Bibles, crosses, and communion supplies, you want an attorney you can trust to be sensitive about your loved one’s religious affiliation, in addition to having experience with inherited property.
Discuss options with the executor.
The executor is probably someone who your loved one trusted, but that doesn’t mean that you trust (or even know) them. In addition to finding a lawyer you feel good about, find a time to sit down with this person and talk about the process with them. If you’re making the proposition that a probate loan may be the way to go, you don’t want to blindside them with this. Talk to them before talking to a lender. It’s a knotty mess of finances, but it’s much more complicated if the heirs and the executor don’t get along. Remember, your loved one trusted in this person for a reason, and you’re all navigating this time together.
Whether you’re figuring out what to do with a room full of devotional candles and crucifixes or how to sell the real estate property you inherited, the most important thing is to take deep breaths as you figure it all out. It’s okay to have a hard time with grief and loss; it’s okay to be angry, sad, and even irrational. Try to use these tips to navigate the inheritance process, and don’t forget to care for yourself as you go through this time.