San Diego Probate Attorney: How to Locate Assets After a Loved One’s Death

From the desk of San Diego Probate Lawyer, Kristina R. Hess…

As an estate planning lawyer, I’m often charged with helping clients through the probate process after the death of a loved one.  

However, it’s the job of a probate lawyer to educate them and un-complicate their role as the potential executor of an estate through knowledge and experience. One of the most difficult steps in the probate process is accounting for the deceased’s assets, debts and money-owed.

If a clear estate plan does not exist with these lists compiled, the probate lawyer will most likely will direct the executor to search within the deceased’s county for titles, deeds, etc. Mail provides another useful source of information: the first month or so after death, bills may come in that direct loved ones to unpaid debt.

However, as a general rule of thumb, the executor will want to continue to monitor the deceased’s mail for up to a year for any other important financial information. With a San Diego probate proceeding, a creditor notice must be filed in the local San Diego newspaper advising creditors of the decedent that they have four months to file a creditor claim.  Successor Trustees of a trust may choose to do this also, for protection against late claims.

The individual’s checkbook and bank account records may also provide important clues. There may be automatic payments coming out for rental properties, personal loans, insurance policies and so on.

Finally, the executor should look through the deceased’s personal address book. Lawyers, insurance agents, bankers and financial advisors should be noted and contacted. As the executor uncovers outstanding assets, a probate lawyer such as KR HESS LAW can then assist in creating accurate accountings and help submit documentation necessary to stay in compliance with California probate laws.

If you have questions about going through the probate process after the loss of a loved one, please don’t feel like you are in this alone. Reach out to our office and we will assist you with your legal needs.

Probate Attorney Counselor of Law, San Diego

Kristina R. Hess