Do You Need an Attorney when Someone Dies?

When a loved one passes away, undoubtedly you will wonder what you need to do. First, you’ll make the necessary funeral or memorial arrangements. Then, we recommend taking care of yourself and your family. If your loved one passed after a prolonged illness, you may just need to take a break. If your loved one passed suddenly, you may need to wrap your thoughts around what has happened. After you’ve had some time to heal, it’s a good idea to speak with a qualified estate administration attorney.


You will want to make sure you are proceeding in a legal manner with regard to your loved one’s estate plan and financial assets. Proceeding improperly could result in the creation of legal issues and liability at a time when you may already be overwhelmed. For example, if your loved one owned a car in their individual name, it should not be driven. Family members from out of town may want to drive it while visiting, but what happens if they are in an accident? The estate could be sued and could be liable. What about IRAs and life insurance? Do you know who the named beneficiaries are? If they are individuals, each will need to make their own claim for benefits. If the estate or a trust is a beneficiary, you’ll want legal guidance to make sure everything is done in accordance with the will, trust and the law. Where is the original Last Will? Did you know Florida law requires the original will be deposited with the clerk of the court for safekeeping within ten (10) days of the date of death? Is there a Living Trust? It is important to locate and safeguard original documents to ensure all instructions are carried out in as desired. Getting a handle on important documents and making a list of all assets is an important initial step in the estate administration process.

Lots of questions will arise. Having the opportunity to work with an estate attorney will give you peace of mind regarding the who, what and how of estate administration. Who is going to be in a leadership role? What are the assets and creditors of the estate? How will the important steps of administration be carried out? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want to have explore.

Join us at our complimentary workshop What to Do When Someone Dies or any of our other educational workshops. Please visit us at to register or join our mailing list. Call us at (407) 977-8080 if you have questions.