Losing someone close to you is difficult. It can be an overwhelming and an emotional time.  Should you find yourself as someone’s Attorney-in-Fact you may be responsible for managing and administering the estate.
Elder Law Group is here to help you understand the practical steps of this difficult process. Below are a few important things to consider as someone’s Attorney-in-Fact in Washington State. You can find a comprehensive checklist of what to do in Legal Voice’s Handbook for Washington Seniors: Legal Rights and Resources (pages 133-141).
Probate and Estate Administration
Find out if the decedent, the person who has died, left a Will or a Trust. If there is a Will, notify the Personal Representative or Executor named in the Will. He or she is responsible for handling the decedent’s estate according to the terms set forth in the Will. For a Trust, notify the named Trustee right away. The Trustee is responsible for managing the Trust.
In Washington State a valid Will must be filed with the Superior Court within 30 days of the death.  If there is no valid Will, then the court will administer the estate according to Washington State law.
Funerals, Burials, and Cremation
If you are the Attorney-in-Fact or the designated agent, you should arrange for a funeral or memorial service, and burial or cremation. Washington State law automatically allows the decedent’s spouse, registered domestic partner, adult child, or parent be the Designated Agent when one has not been assigned.
Locate any written instructions for funeral or memorial service arrangements, and burial or cremation arrangements. The instructions may be entitled a Letter of Instruction, Final Instructions, or Disposition Authorization.
Paying Bills
If a Personal Representative has been designated, give him or her all unpaid bills. Include utility bills, mortgage statement, property tax bill, car note, credit card bills, and any other statements for debts owed. If you are the Executor, then it is your responsibility to handle the bills.
Obtaining Death Certificates
You will need certified copies of the death certificate to transfer ownership of assets, such as property, cars, or bank accounts. You can obtain certified copies of the death certificate from the funeral director or from the Washington State Department of Health.
After A Death Occurs – A Checklist
Legal Voice shares a checklist of the many important things to do after a death occurs in their publication Handbook for Washington Seniors: Legal Rights and Resources. Locate the checklist on pages 133 to 141. You can download the PDF version here or order the spiral bound book.

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At Elder Law Group PLLC we know that making arrangements for the eventuality of aging, Long-Term Care, and mental or physical incapacity can be very stressful and emotional. We strive to remove some of the burden from you and your family by helping you create an Estate Plan that addresses your needs in detail.
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