How do I file for legal representation for my uncle who passed away in December? He didn't have a will or any assets.

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I was his POA for medical and finances at the time of his death, he was never married and never had any children, he lived with me and we had hospice at my home for him, I was his beneficiary for his life insurance for his bank account, he has a social security check which I'm giving to his great great nieces and nephew. I spoke with a close friend who works at the social security office, and he said I need to file for legal representative and I work, I'd like to know how I do that, do I need to speak with a lawyer or is it something I can do on my own?

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97yearold,

I will I'm going to try the affidavit it's worth a try.
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Reply to Moe65wee
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Thank you Moe for coming back and giving us more information. The probate was the only thing I could find online that might work.
An affidavit of heirship I am familiar with to support title of real property so maybe it will work. Come back and let us know.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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To be a leagal representative you have to file a petition with the court, and anyone dealing with a family member who is I'll let older should do this ASAP. While they are alive ...it makes it much easier to deal with all of the leagal issues.
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I'm in Wisconsin, he would've had to sign papers making me his legal representative meaning I would've had to take care of all his financial situation, become his payee for SS his medical, and all the other stuff, but he was in his sound mind until a couple days before he passed. SS didn't take the check back in error he got his check deposit every 2nd Wednesday of the month unfortunately he passed away before his deposit date, but what sucks is he was alive for the month of November which is what the check was for December, but once he died before deposit SS is notified by the funeral home, so I called the SS and ask what happens to his check that gets deposited, they said they will take it back and send a letter to his address where he gets notified by the SS, which is my home address to the family of my uncle, they said fill it the form and send it back, so I did, they all your relationship to the deceased, I say I'm his niece, they write back and say it can only be paid if to spouse, children, parents or legal representative, which I am neither, so I spoke with a friend who works at the social security office and they said to try and get appointed his legal representative of the estate, but I spoke to an attorney today and his said that won't happen now that he's passed away, that I would have to go to probate and it really wouldn't be worth it since it was only one check that has a value of about a $1000. He suggested that I try online and download affidavit Wisconsin transfer by affidavit, he said not sure if it would work but it's worth a try, I could hire him but by the time all was said and done there wouldn't be anything hardly left, so I'm going to try the affidavit thing and see, if not I'll ask SS how long it will take for them to put it, if even happens in to Wisconsin unclaimed property... I'm in the process now of trying to claim unclaimed property for my great uncle who was my grandmothers brother whom I was his leagal representative, but it was way too complicated to try and get, I didn't have all of his a paper work that I needed and now I just have to provide lineage my mom's and grandmothers death certificate. So wish me luck, thank you all for your in put.
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Reply to Moe65wee
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So Moe
You already knew what was required to be his legal representstive? What state are you in? 
Was it something your uncle would have had to of signed?
So you are saying SS took the check back in error? Then when you wrote them they agreed it was owed him but you had to come up with legal rep in order to actually have it made out to you instead of uncle? 
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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He stopped filling taxes a year after he retired didn't make enough money, and he is entitled to his last check, for November he was alive the whole month after the SS took back the check I closed the account once I contacted all of his auto payments which I set up for him, there is no need to probate anything other than his last SS check... I knew we should've filed for legal representation with a lawyer before he died, but we didn't, he was so weak from the cancer, I was a leagal representative for my great uncle who passed away ten years ago it just makes it so much easier.
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Reply to Moe65wee
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You are the beneficiary of his life insurance but should the payout include paying out whatever he needed for burial expenses. Plus what about filing his taxes for last year?
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Reply to MACinCT
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Moe65weey, as beneficiary of your uncle's life insurance, if you've had any problem with being paid, then you should contact your State Insurance Department. Regarding the bank account, if you were either named as POD (payable on death) or named as a joint account holder, then whatever was left in the account is yours, without any need for probate. Personal items and household furnishings are often informally distributed/disposed unless specified otherwise in a will, or are of high value and/or any potential heirs contest the distribution.

Social Security seems to be the only unresolved (and confusing) issue. But, if SS has already taken back the last payment it made per its rules, then maybe it is resolved, other than perhaps the $255 death benefit check. In my experience, Social Security's standard letters are very confusing and I've found it much better to talk with a representative face-to-face at the local SS office (walk-ins are accepted, but if you don't have a lot of free time, it's often better to call first for a face-to-face appointment time). If your local office is too far away, then a telephone call is the next best alternative and is still much better than trying to decipher SS's standard letters.

In short, based just on your description of your uncle's estate, there's probably no need for probate and thus no need for you to talk to an attorney. (Note: All POAs expire with the death of the POA grantor, so your POA has no bearing other than if there is any estate to be probated, in which case a probate judge may take that into consideration if you want to be the estate's administrator).
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Reply to bicycler
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Moe - your uncle would be considered to have died “intestate” as he died without a will. How to get through will be whatever legal system is set by your states laws for intestate. SSA probably has info as to what is acceptable documentation for intestate for SSA specifically. This is what 97 & Polarbear are getting at. Perhaps take your valid state ID, uncles death certificate, along with something that show his address and your address as the same, and his last 6 bank statements for wherever his SS was direct deposited into and go to a SSA office to clearly find out what exactly will suffice. 

What seems to often be the system for intestate is for all assets to escheat to the state (state in control of ownership) till a “lineal heirship” determination is done & approved by PC. If that’s your states system, lineal -to me - are not ever a DIY as there’s notifications that have to be published over time (maybe 3-6 months). Dying intestate is one reason why so many states treasury & tax assessors have $&property that are considered unclaimed funds as there’s no defined owner to transfer the asset to via probate court like there would be for someone who dies with a will that names an executor and who gets what as defined by the will.

My state - Louisiana - had huge coffers with lots of $ & property left from the displacement due to Katrina. Lots of unclaimed insurance checks. For $ it went to State Treasures’ office and our new treasure -Schroeder- actually decided to make it consumer friendly with a FAQ how to get unclaimed funds. His office did a series of weekend “come & get it” at malls all over the state with huge lists of the UC in papers published like 2 times weeks before plus on line and he ran TV & radio spots. The one at Lakeside Mall had lines out the door. Lots of happy folks (& future voters) that weekend. I mention unclaimed funds cause if Uncles Estate is teeny, it’s can be more $ to get an atty than what it’s worth. Sometimes folks just wait it out till a UC can be filed with State Treasurers Office. Look to see what your states website has for UC.

? for you....the bank account that got his SS monthly check, when he died did he live the entire month before his death? Like alive all of November.If so, then the check SSA paid in December (his month of death) would be the last income check from SSA. Was a check paid in Dec? And that what your seeking? Or is it a January check? If SS pays the month after, that will be clawed back. There is no more income payments from SSA unless there are dependents like a surviving spouse or dependent children, which each get an increase to the SS checks they are already receiving. SSA will pay a one time $255 death benefit to them.

If Uncle had $ left in his bank accounts, then it’s up to banking laws as to how that $ can be accessed. If he did it POD to you, then it’s yours. Otherwise it goes into probate court or unclaimed funds system.
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Reply to igloo572
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Thanks for the update.
I have an aunt I take care of who never had children. While she has a will, all her assets have been taken care of outside the will for when the time comes. So my thinking has been that I would not have to probate her will.
However, She is a widow whose husband was involved in one of the original asbestosis lawsuits which has been pending for well over 30 years. Should she pass before this lawsuit settles I will have a similar problem with that check should it ever come in. So I was interested in researching this a bit. What I decided was any assett of a deceased person constitutes an estate. Estates without wills can still be probated. There are provisions for small estates. ( less than $50,000) but at some point the estate is too small to justify the cost and aggravation of becoming the legal representative or executor of the estate.
Now that’s what I discovered for my state. In your state there may be a different provision for very small estates.
I guess the moral of this story is to cash a gov check ASAP.
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