Finding out that a parent has passed away is difficult, even if your relationship was strained or nonexistent. If your parent died and you have not been in recent contact with them, it can be challenging to locate all their assets and determine ownership. Probate and estate lawyers handle these types of matters frequently. If you are dealing with a deceased parent’s estate and need help confirming ownership of assets, hiring an attorney can ease the frustration you may be feeling and make the process more expedient.
Attempt to Locate a Will
Even if you do not think your parent had a will, one of the first steps to take is to try and find one. A valid will may be able to tell you much of what you need to know about the ownership of your parent’s estate. If your parent created a will, they most likely would have used an attorney from an estate planning law firm, which may have a copy of it. If you have access to your parent’s home or belongings, go through them to look for a will. If you find one and you were included as a beneficiary, the executor of the will should have contacted you and notified you of any inheritance. If necessary, you may be able to contest the will, depending on whether the probate and estate settlement process is completed.
Do Some Investigating
Regardless of whether you find a will, if you know who your parent’s attorney was, contact them to find out if they have any information about the estate and ownership of assets. You can also contact the probate court in which the estate was settled to find out which assets went through probate and who acted as the executor or personal representative. You may want to search public records of ownership, such as the county recorder’s office in the area to find deeds that were recorded for any real estate your parent may have owned.
Contact an Attorney
If it all seems too overwhelming, a family wills and trusts lawyer can do the investigating for you. Make sure to give your attorney everything you have related to your parent’s assets or estate, including the will, tax returns, account statements, any deeds or titles to property, and other financial information. There are different types of searches your lawyer can do to find vehicles, businesses, life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts and benefits, abandoned assets, and other assets that may be part of your parent’s estate. Your lawyer may work with a real estate attorney to search for any property your parent may have owned.
Laws of Intestacy
It is important to keep in mind that if you cannot find a will, the laws of intestacy of your state or commonwealth will apply to any assets your deceased parent-owned solely. If your parent has a living spouse, most of their assets will likely go to them. If your parent was not married or their spouse is deceased, any estate assets you find will be distributed equally among your deceased parent’s children. Even if you are able to locate and determine ownership of assets, if your parent’s estate was already settled and distributed, court litigation may be required to recover any share of assets you believe may be your rightful inheritance.
Do you need assistance with estate planning, probate or other legal matters? The experienced legal team at Carosella & Associates can help.