Skilled Lawyers Helping Clients in Raleigh With Probate, Trust, & Estate Administration Issues
If you are designated as an executor or as an administrator of an estate, your task is to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out while remaining compliant with state and federal laws. You will need the help that a Raleigh probate attorney at NC Planning can provide. Raleigh estate administration attorneys from NC Planning have extensive experience across family dynamics and asset classes. We have the necessary skills to guide you or your loved ones through estate administration at a time when everything seems more difficult, and emotions are running high.
The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult events we can face. Distributing a loved one’s assets, with or without the guidance of a will, can add even more anxiety to a difficult time. If there is no will, North Carolina law has a process to determine who can serve as the administrator of the decedent’s estate. Typically, that person will be the spouse or another immediate relative.
What Does Probate and Trust Administration Include?
The probate process and trust administration are two separate issues following a death. The probate process refers to a decedent who dies with or without a will and whose assets must be transferred to beneficiaries. The local probate court is always involved in the probate process whether there is a will, or the decedent died intestate (without a will). The court is much less involved in trust administration; however, the end result is at least somewhat the same. Probate usually requires the following:
- A named executor is approved by the court, or an executor is chosen by the court
- The decedent’s assets are inventoried by the executor, usually along with a probate attorney
- Assets belonging to the decedent are appraised, when necessary
- The redemption of life insurance annuities and retirement plans take place
- All expenses and debts of the decedent are paid
- Any income belonging to the decedent is deposited
- All taxes owed are paid and a final tax return is filed for the decedent
- The remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries or heirs, according to the will or according to NC state succession laws
Trust administration does not involve the courts so long as all the assets in the trust were properly titled prior to the decedent’s death. A successor trustee is named in the trust—a person who will administer the trust, preferably with the assistance of a trust administration lawyer. The successor trustee and trust administration attorney will pay the final expenses and taxes of the decedent, and ensure the remaining assets are distributed according to the wishes of the decedent.
What Do Estate Administration and Probate Attorneys Do?
A trust administration attorney helps the successor trustee wind up a person’s financial business following their death, then helps distribute that property to those named in the trust as beneficiaries. Information is first collected, primarily regarding the decedent’s assets to find out what the decedent owned and how it was titled. There may have also been a will in the estate plan, or possibly a pour-over will that is designed to “catch” any assets not named in the trust. Death certificates will be requested, and Social Security and other agencies notified. Basically, a trust administration attorney will ensure the trust administration goes quickly and is done properly.
The same is true of probate. A probate attorney will ensure all paperwork is properly filed in a timely manner and that the named beneficiaries will receive what the decedent intended. If a person dies without a will, North Carolina succession laws will determine who will benefit from the estate of the decedent. Everything that passes through a will must be probated. The will usually appoint an executor to handle the probate, and the executor may choose to involve a probate attorney. Few of us are familiar with sometimes complex probate and trust administration laws and rules, so having an NC Planning attorney to guide you can make a huge difference in the outcome.
What Are the Benefits of Having Raleigh Probate, Estate, and Trust Administration Attorneys?
Having probate, estate, and trust administration attorneys taking part in the process can be a definite benefit to all those involved. Probate can take a very long time, particularly when done by a person totally unfamiliar with the probate process. While trust administration is a much quicker—and much more private—process, it can still benefit from having an attorney who understands the process. Having an attorney involved in estate administration, whether probate or trust administration, can give family members peace of mind and can significantly reduce family conflict.
Going to court following the death of a loved one can be extremely stressful, particularly for the executor. The executor is responsible for many tasks, which are facilitated when an experienced probate attorney is part of the scenario. Further, when an attorney is involved, there is a reduced chance of contests or challenges to the will or trust. Family members are more likely to believe the estate is being administered properly when an NC Planning attorney is part of the equation.
Trust administration has much less expense associated with it than probate—probate can cost from three to seven percent of the value of the estate. Raleigh estate administration attorneys from NC Planning provide the personalized help you need when going through the process of administering a trust. Both heirs and beneficiaries, as well as executors and successor trustees, are all represented when we assist with the estate administration.
How Can An Estate Administration Attorney Help?
If you are designated as an executor, administrator, or trustee of a loved one’s trust or estate, you may not be given a great deal of guidance. Wills and living trusts are not always well-written, and mistakes cost your family and the estate. Figuring out what to do and when to do it is stressful, especially if you are still in the process of mourning the loss of a loved one.
How can you have certainty as an executor, an administrator, or a trustee? The right attorney can help you by providing sound, insightful, and timely guidance and advice. Together, we will get through this emotionally challenging time and ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out as he or she intended.
NC Planning has an estate administration team that can handle every detail of the probate process from start to finish on your behalf. When you transfer your responsibilities to our estate administration team, your loved one’s estate will be handled by trusted professionals.
Our legal team handles probate administration matters for modest estates as well as complex estates that may have interests and assets in a number of jurisdictions. We have the legal resources and skills to handle all probate, trust, and estate administration matters.
What is the Estate Administration Process?
Estate administration is something few of us are equipped to handle on our own. There is usually an endless stream of paperwork, and a working knowledge of state and federal laws is required. Estate administration includes probate and trust administration, encompassing the money, personal possessions, real estate, and funded accounts of the decedent. Estate administration attorneys organize all these issues, engaging in administration responsibilities that can include inventory, managing assets, and distributing remaining assets.
When there is a will, there is usually a named executor—a trusted person who will carry out the wishes of the decedent. When there is no will, the court steps in and appoints an executor, or approves an application from a person who wishes to be the executor. A trust names a successor trustee who carries out the terms of the trust, with help from a trust administration attorney. The estate administration process includes:
- Filing a petition with the court in the case of probate to be approved as executor
- If there is no will or no executor is named, the court will appoint an executor
- The death certificate is filed with the appropriate agencies
- All parties are notified according to North Carolina laws, alerting them to the amount of time they have to file a claim against the estate. The parties include creditors and heirs
- The decedent’s assets are inventoried and valued, when necessary
- All creditors are paid in full
- Taxes are paid on the estate
- A tax return is filed on behalf of the decedent
- Once the claim period has ended, the remaining assets of the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries
- A final accounting of the estate must be filed with the court in the case of probate
Choosing the Best Raleigh Estate Administration Attorneys from NC Planning
When you choose Raleigh estate administration attorneys from NC Planning, you will have the benefit of our experience as we work on building strong client relationships. We always want to make sure we fully understand your short and long-term objectives before we begin making recommendations. While many firms talk about client care, we consistently deliver the highest level of client care. We know that you have choices when choosing Raleigh estate administration attorneys. We hope you will spend some time talking to an NC Planning attorney. We believe our team is responsive, accountable, compassionate, and honest communicators—and that you will benefit from those qualities.
What Are the Most Common Probate Mistakes?
Executors are held personally responsible for estate administration errors and mistakes, even if unintentional. Without the right attorney’s guidance, executors commonly make these types of probate mistakes:
- Tax errors: An executor prepares, submits, and pays the decedent’s final IRS return. Anyone could make serious tax mistakes without an attorney’s help, and a failure to file the IRS Form 8971 Estate Information Form may lead to substantial fines.
- Missing a step: An estate’s executor must find and file the will with the court, inventory assets, notify creditors, and pay an estate’s debts. If the executor intentionally or unintentionally misappropriates funds, misses deadlines, or abuses their power, a creditor or an heir may sue for damages.
- Misunderstanding probate laws: Misunderstanding the law could cause financial losses for the estate and the heirs. The right probate attorney can explain clearly what executors, administrators, and trustees in North Carolina need to know.
If you’re named as the executor of a will or as an administrator of an estate, arrange to meet with a probate attorney at NC Planning as soon as possible. We will guide you through the entire process to ensure you don’t make any of these crucial mistakes that could affect the estate or the decedent’s heirs.
How NC Planning Will Help You Plan for the Road Ahead
We handle various probate, trust, and estate administration matters, including debt and tax issues, asset distribution, and eventually, closing the estate. After losing a loved one, you will want a lawyer who has helped others in the same circumstances. Every client receives quality legal services and complete personal attention at NC Planning.
We provide all of our estate planning and probate clients with effective representation and affordable, innovative legal solutions. To learn more about how we can help you with trust administration, estate administration, or the probate process, schedule a consultation with our team. To book your consultation, call NC Planning at (919) 568-3681 or complete the contact form here on our website.
Our offices are located in Raleigh at 4801 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 200. We also have offices in Cary located at 5640 Dillard Drive, Suite 101. We are trusted throughout North Carolina to provide the probate and estate planning solutions that our clients need.