My mother just died. Can I take care of her final affairs right away?
The person listed in your mother’s planning documents will be in charge of her estate. The person often identified as the trustee or successor trustee of a trust or nominated as the executor or personal representative in a will. If no estate planning documents can be found, someone must petition the court to be put in charge. Some actions can be taken immediately (funeral arrangements, acquiring death certificates, freezing any line of credit) whereas most other actions should be handled only after contacting the probate attorney. It is crucial that you do not begin paying debts or transferring funds until after you determine the value of her estate.