Determine legal residence of the decedent (the person who has passed away)
1. If not a California resident, these steps do not apply.
2. Try to ascertain the county of legal residence within the state of California (other laws apply to other states).
Within weeks of death:
1. Locate the Trust, Will and any related estate planning documents.
2. If Will is found, determine name of executor.
3. If Trust is found, determine name of trustee and successor trustee.
4. If no Will or Trust is found, the family should decide on one person to take charge of the estate administration.
Perform Immediate Tasks:
1. Copy and send out Will(s) to beneficiaries and heirs. Lodge original Will(s) with the Superior Court in the County where the decedent was a resident.
2. Send statutory Trust notices to beneficiaires and heirs.
3. Protect the estate and/or trust from identity theft by removing the decedent's name and social security number from all accounts and credit cards as soon as possible.
4. Have mail forwareded and monitor.
5. Cancel subscriptions.
6. Inform Social Security of the death.
7. Inform Medi-Cal of the death.
8. Inform County Tax Assessor of death.
Asset and Liability Identification
1. For each asset found, try to note down the following information:
-Fair market value on the date of death
-Ownership (does the decedent own the property jointly with any other person?)
-Title (does the decedent hold title jointly with any other person? What is the type of title held? For example, joint tenancy, community property, separate property, etc.)
-Is there any mortgage or existing lien or amount owed on the property?
2. For any liabilities: gather all information that you can, especially those needing to be kept current like mortgages.
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