Case Illustration of a Designated Executor
As executor of her sister Donna’s estate, Jill takes her executor status seriously and is doing her best to wrap up the estate. Unfortunately, she continues to run into stumbling blocks. Creditors that Donna’s grown children swear are not legitimate keep turning up, and Jill is struggling to know which creditors she legally needs to pay. The children are also very anxious to receive their inheritances and are getting more aggressive in demanding that Jill finish the probate—even though she has virtually no control over the timeline. Jill decides to speak to an Apex probate and estate administration attorney from NC Planning as she considers having an attorney either help her with the administration of her sister’s estate or take over the job altogether.
After spending some time with the attorney and relaying her concerns, Jill believes the best course of action is to step aside and allow the NC Planning team to handle the probate and estate administration. Jill lives a couple of hours away, so not only will this save her traveling time, but Donna’s children are less likely to demand their inheritances from an experienced Apex probate and estate administration attorney than from her. Jill now can take the time to properly grieve the loss of her sister, retain good relationships with her nieces and nephews, and rest easy, knowing the estate administration will be done properly and legally.
What Is Probate & Trust Administration?
Estate administration occurs after an individual’s death. The decedent’s financial affairs are concluded, and the property and assets they own are distributed according to their wishes (if there is a will or trust). The time and complexity involved in probate and trust administration depend on whether all legal documents are in order, the number of beneficiaries involved, and the value and extent of the estate’s assets. The first step in estate, probate, and trust administration will involve collecting information, including asset information, beneficiary information, and information regarding creditors. Death certificates must be obtained, and Social Security notified, along with dozens of additional tasks.
The person administering a trust will be the named successor trustee. Trusts tend to be more difficult to contest, and easier to administer than a will that must go through the probate process. A will must almost always be probated, which can be a lengthy, expensive process in many cases. While many people will name a family member as executor of their will or successor trustee in the case of a trust, unfortunately, decedents often do not take the time to discuss estate administration with the chosen person.
Few people have a solid understanding of North Carolina probate, trust, or estate administration, leaving them essentially “flying blind.” There can also be family conflicts that factor into estate administration, making it even more difficult. It can be extremely beneficial to speak to an Apex probate and estate administration attorney from NC Planning. Estate Administration is one of the many areas of estate planning that our highly skilled attorneys can help you with. We know the laws and we can act as a neutral third party with family members to keep conflict to a minimum. For Apex probate and estate administration, NC Planning is ready to assist you in the best way possible.
What Do Estate Administration Attorneys Do?
Estate administration refers to the process of handling a person’s affairs after they have passed. The tasks involved can vary widely and often fall to a family member who has been named as executor of a will or successor trustee. Estate administration can be an overwhelming task, especially when you are also dealing with the death of a loved one. Because of this, some people proactively name an estate administration attorney to handle their affairs after they die. If an estate planning attorney has assisted the individual in putting together an estate plan—including trusts and/or a will—the same firm will likely be chosen to administer the estate as they are already familiar with the details.
Others name a family member or trusted friend to administer their estate, and that person seeks advice from an Apex probate and estate administration attorney—or turns the entire process over to an attorney. An estate administration attorney can handle probate and estate administration from start to finish, while simultaneously providing essential legal advice to family members. The attorney will prepare court documents, secure the liquidation of financial accounts, file final tax returns, inventory assets, transfer or sell real estate, handle impatient beneficiaries, and prepare an informal or judicial accounting of the entire process.
An Apex probate and estate administration attorney can advise you on dealing with joint accounts, non-probate assets, life insurance, IRAs, and much more while beginning the process of preparing and filing all the necessary court documents. Estate administration attorneys either work for the decedent before and after his or her death, or for the decedent’s family in most cases. When the estate is particularly complex, or is a high-net-worth estate, having an Apex probate and estate administration attorney helping you and your family through the process can be an invaluable resource.
What Is the Estate Administration Process?
The NC estate administration process will be different for each individual situation, but essentially includes the following tasks:
- All applicable documents must be gathered and organized.
- The decedent’s will must be submitted to the local probate court (deadlines apply).
- Any interested parties, including beneficiaries, employers, creditors, and agencies like the Social Security Administration must be notified.
- Benefits that will go to beneficiaries must be accessed, including life insurance, retirement benefits, annuities, unpaid wages, and Social Security.
- An inventory must be taken of the estate assets.
- When necessary, valuations will be ordered for items like art collections, jewelry collections, and other types of potentially valuable collections.
- Probate and non-probate assets must be separated.
- A petition will be filed with the local probate court.
- Creditors must be notified of the pending probate.
- The validity of the will may need to be proven in court.
- During the probate process, all the assets associated with the estate must be cared for and managed.
- All estate taxes and debts must be paid.
- Final tax returns must be filed for the decedent and the estate.
- All remaining assets in the estate must be distributed according to the decedent’s wishes.
- The administrator of the estate will prepare a final accounting.
Choosing the Right Estate Administration Attorney to Secure Your Legacy
At a time when you are dealing with your own grief over the loss of a loved one, choosing the right Apex probate and estate administration attorney can seem like an overwhelming task. While you may have many choices, the NC Planning attorneys believe strongly that once you have spoken to one of our highly experienced attorneys, your choice will be clear. We offer highly personalized probate and estate administration services to our clients, helping you through this difficult time with knowledge, skill, and compassion.
How NC Planning Will Help You Plan for the Road Ahead
When you are planning for the road ahead, it may not be enough to simply name an executor or successor trustee. The person you name may not have any experience or knowledge of how to properly administer your estate once you are gone. It can be extremely helpful to have an NC Planning attorney who is already familiar with your estate to assist your loved ones in the administration aspect. We can take a strategic advisory role in your Apex probate and estate administration, or we can handle all the details for your loved ones.
We believe strongly in Client Care—while it is easy to talk about, we consistently deliver comprehensive, compassionate, knowledgeable care to each and every client. Our firm believes in accountability, responsiveness, and open communication. NC Planning has law offices in Cary, Raleigh, and Wilmington, NC for your convenience. When NC Planning is a part of the process, we will ensure that you not only have a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets and prepares your family for the future—but that this plan will be properly executed when the time comes. Contact NC Planning today to speak to a knowledgeable probate and estate administration attorney.