Dealing With Dollars & Sense When Wrongful Death of a Parent Occurs
When a wrongful death occurs, it isn't planned or expected. Unfortunately, for the overwhelming majority of Americans, it also means that it isn't prepared for. Many people do not have a will, nor do they have a clear and readily accessible accounting of their assets or liabilities. When a parent suddenly passes away, it can leave surviving children scrambling to pay everything from mortgages and utility bills to medical and credit card bills. If you have found yourself in a situation where a parent has passed, you need to take swift action to protect their assets and shield yourself from financial liability.
Research the Intestacy Statutes & Probate Process
In Texas, individuals who die without a will have their assets distributed in a chain of succession. This chain is complex and means that assets can be distributed to surviving spouses, children, parents, siblings, and even aunts, uncles, and nephews.
Texas statutes stipulate that the estate of anyone who dies without a will must go through the probate process. This means that you will need to apply to the court to be named the estate administrator. When the court grants you status as the administrator, it's the same as being the executor. This will allow you to make financial decisions about the deceased's estate and the distribution of assets.
As an administrator, you will have 90 days to catalog the deceased's estate and file an Inventory, Appraisement, and List of Claims with the court. This document includes the disposition of the estate, whether there are questions of ownership, value, or location of assets, and other variables that affect the liquidation of the estate.
Researching the Estate
Sort through the deceased parent's mail and identify where your parent has bank accounts, loans, credit cards, etc. You will want to notify these entities that the individual has passed away. This will allow creditors to close accounts and banks to lock down assets.
You will also need to sort through computer files, bank transaction records, utility statements, credit card statements, etc., to identify liabilities, life insurance policies, and other assets. Then, once you have everything compiled, you should work closely with your attorney to determine the best order in which to tackle closing the estate.
Are you dealing with the sudden death of a loved one? Contact Welmaker Injury Law to speak with our attorneys about steps to take following a wrongful death in Texas.