Settling an Estate While You're Grieving

If you’re serving as the executor of an estate, or simply as the beneficiary, then it probably means you’ve just lost someone - likely someone you cared about deeply. As a result, you’re in a season of bereavement, and your emotions are running high. It is probably the worst time to take on a major new project, like settling an estate - yet this is a project that must be completed.

There are many projects to tackle and decisions to be made when a loved one dies, of course, and with most of those things, you can enlist the help of a funeral director. When it comes to settling an estate, you may wish to turn to a family lawyer, who can help you navigate some of the technicalities of the process. Even so, big decisions must be made.

You do not have to make these decisions immediately. Usually, settlement of the estate can be put on hold to allow you time to mourn and to compose yourself. Alternatively, you may wish to throw yourself into the project headlong, finding the busyness and the sense of accomplishment to offer alleviation from the grieving process.

Both of these options are acceptable, but many mourners will prefer a middle ground: don’t rush headlong into estate settlement but don’t totally delay it, either. Take a few minutes to put together a list of questions, a file of financial documents, and a list of online passwords. Start wrapping your head around the details that need to be sorted out. Then, when you’re ready, call a lawyer to begin the work of estate settlement in earnest.