When a loved one dies, there can be a number of legal issues that relate directly to their passing, but among them the financial issues stand out the most. The following are the most common issues that surviving family members face.
Debts and Unpaid Taxes of the Deceased
If a family member dies with debt and they have the assets to pay for some or all of these debts, then they will need to be paid. Creditors have a right to be paid even after a person has died. The same is true with taxes, including income taxes that are owed for the current year by the person who has died. Usually this is straightforward, and the executor will be responsible for paying these debts. The real problem occurs when the debts are greater than the assets of the deceased. In this case, an attorney is likely needed.
Fighting Over Wealth
Family members will often dispute how the assets of a deceased family member should be allocated. Although this is less likely when there is a will, family members may go so far as to challenge the will.
In some situations, it may be a financial motive, but families can fight over things that have strong sentimental value as well. There may also be fighting over assets that are believed to exist, but no one can find them. In this situation, it is best for the executor to contact a private investigator to do a comprehensive asset search. If there are any assets that exist but are not well documented, they will be found.
Business Interests of the Deceased
If an individual was operating a business at the time of his or her death, the legal issues can become complex. For example, if the deceased has a partnership in a business, it will need to be determined how much of the business belongs to the deceased and whether this interest should be sold or simply passed on to heirs. Also, if the interest in the business is passed on to an heir, will it be given to a single heir or will it be divided up between two or more heirs. If the business was a sole proprietorship, it may be the case that the deceased’s business finances were mingled with his or her personal finances, so it may not be easy to separate the two.
Regardless of the status of ownership, there will be the issue of continuing to operate the business. It is likely that there are employees who are dependent on the business for their income.
Perhaps the biggest concern for many surviving family members regarding the finances of the deceased, is making sure that all of the assets of the deceased are identified. Legal battles cannot begin until everyone knows what they are fighting over in the first place. To find missing assets, you need to hire a private investigation firm such as ours. Asset investigations are one of the services we routinely provide and we can locate assets that are presently unknown to surviving family members.
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