Category Archives: Probate

Essential Roles of a Probate Attorney in Broadway NC

A probate attorney in Broadway NC serve many important roles.  The most significant one is the assistive role with the estate’s personal representative.  A probate attorney in Broadway NC helps with the probate process from start to finish.  Some of the essential roles he or she performs include:

Locating Assets

A probate lawyer can review the will, trust and other documents in order to identify probate assets and non-probate assets.  This can help ensure that money and other assets are not accidentally forfeited or forgotten.

Evaluating Assets

A significant process involved in probate is determining the value of various assets.  A probate lawyer has contacts with professional appraisers and can seek a professional appraisal to support the documents that the personal representative submits to the court.

Requesting Court Permission

Once the values of certain assets are known, the beneficiaries may prefer to have the monetary value of the asset rather than the asset itself.  He or she may request the court’s permission to sell certain assets including real estate and may assist with the contracts associated with these sales.

Retitling Assets

A probate attorney may also help with retitling real estate and other assets to effectuate the legal transfer.

Preparing Tax Documents

The probate lawyer may also assist with determining whether estate taxes or inheritance taxes will be due.  He or she can determine where these funds will derive from.  Additionally, he or she may address any income tax issues.

Payment of Bills

A probate attorney may also advise on the payment of final bills after creditors have been notified of the testator’s death.

Preparing Documents for the Court

A probate attorney may assist with preparing the various accountings and other documents required by the probate court.  He or she can also ensure that filing deadlines are met.

Three Signs You Will Need a Probate Attorney in Sanford NC

Many executors decide to hire a probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina to help them with the often time-consuming process of settling the estate.  A probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina is familiar with state law regarding estates and how the local probate court works.  While not every estate absolutely requires a probate lawyer, some surefire signs that you will most likely need one include:

Decedent’s Assets Were Not Transferred Outside of Probate

Probate is only concerned with those assets that the decedent’s estate owns after his or her passing.  It is possible to transfer many assets outside of the probate process.  Life insurance proceeds, funds from retirement accounts and funds from bank accounts can be transferred pursuant to a beneficiary designation form or through a payable on death designation.  Other property that is owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship can also pass outside probate.  Assets help in a living trust also pass outside probate.

Estate Has More than $20,000 in Value

Like many other states, North Carolina has small estates laws that allow heirs to inherit without having to go through the full extent of probate.  In North Carolina, these estates have a value under $20,000.  This process allows a person to sign an affidavit and present it to the holder of the decedent’s assets, such as a bank account.  It is not for use for estates that owns property.

Family Members Don’t Get Along

If the decedent had a prior marriage with children and a current spouse, children who will not understand having different splits of the inheritance or family members who have already threatened to use, it is likely that a lawyer will need to be hired.  He or she can help safeguard the estate’s assets to the extent possible and defend against any frivolous lawsuit.

Probate Attorney in Lee County Helps with Litigation Avoidance

While many people may worry about how taxes will impact their estate plan, given the high exemption limits, a probate attorney in Lee County can explain that the more practical concern is how litigation will impact the estate plan.  After a person dies, heirs at law or beneficiaries in the will or trust may come to the conclusion that the testator was unduly influenced and may commence with expensive litigation.  A probate attorney in Lee County can explain possible arguments that can be raised in litigation and how to protect against them.

Some of the drawbacks of probate litigation are that the testator’s wishes may be undermined, people in the community can hear about it and the litigation can erode the estate’s funds so little or nothing is left after the battle is over.

While there is no guaranty that someone will not contest the will or trust, there are preventative planning techniques that can be employed to reduce this possibility.  For example, if the testator believes that his or her competence may be questioned, a health provider’s assessment at the time the documents are executed that the testator was of sound mind at the time of execution of the estate documents can serve as powerful evidence especially when memorialized in a stand-alone affidavit.  Witnesses can also attest to their belief of the testator’s capacity when they observe him or her signing the will.

Another way to help avoid such will or trust contests is to include clear language in the estate planning documents and a disincentive for such claims.  For example, if the testator anticipates a will contest by a particular person, he or she may include a clause in the will that states that the beneficiary will lose the interest afforded him or her in the will if he or she brings such litigation.  Additionally, the testator should include clear language in the will or other document that explains any possible disparities so that the beneficiaries will understand the reasoning behind these decisions.

Three Times It Pays to Have a Probate Attorney in Lee County NC

Under some circumstances, the executor can be held personally responsible for mistakes he or she makes.  In order to avoid such consequences, many executors retain the services of a probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina.  A probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina is especially helpful in the following scenarios:

Real Estate Must Be Handled 

For many people, their most valuable asset is real estate.  The executor has the responsibility of safeguarding the decedent’s property and following the mandates of the will.  The executor also has the duty to maintain the property.

The executor may be tasked with the responsibility of selling real estate.  It is often advisable to list the property quickly since it can take some time to sell real estate.  A probate attorney may be able to provide information about the options available to the executor, such as investing some funds into the property so it will yield a higher sales price or selling property with flaws in it to an investor if it would not otherwise secure a good price.

Hiring Other Professionals 

There may come a time when the executor needs to hire another professional, such as a realtor, accountant, financial planner or tax advisor.  While a friend may be employed in one of these professions, hiring him or her may create a conflict of interest.  A probate attorney may be able to recommend another professional that is more neutral to the executor.

Submitting Documents to the Court 

There are specific documents that the executor must submit.  There are also special deadlines that must be adhered to.  A probate attorney can ensure that the proper procedures are followed in order to avoid unnecessary problems and delays.

Probate Attorney in Sanford NC Explains how to Avoid Litigation

A probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina can explain that litigation can quickly drain the funds of the estate and leave family members at odds.  Fortunately, there are several steps that individuals can take to avoid litigation before it ever becomes a possibility.  Some suggestions you may hear from a probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina include:

Have a Properly Drafted Will 

While there is no guarantee that an heir at law will not contest a last will and testament, having a properly drafted will can help decrease the probability that such a contest will be successful.  An estate planning lawyer can help ensure that all legal formalities are carried out.  Additionally, he or she can help ensure that all potential, known issues are accounted for in your estate plan.

Avoid Probate

Much litigation occurs within the probate context.  However, there are several ways to avoid probate altogether, also allowing you to avoid probate litigation.  Probate assets include property that is owned at the time of death.  However, it does not include life insurance proceeds, property in trusts, property owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship or property transferred at death with a properly executed beneficiary designation form.  A probate attorney can help transfer property and establish trusts in order to help you avoid probate.

Communication

In some cases, there is confusion after a loved one dies, leading potential heirs to question whether the will or trust really reflected the testator’s wishes.  By talking through your preferred plans well before death, much of this confusion can be eliminated.

Talk to a Lawyer

An estate planning lawyer can discuss other strategies that can help you avoid litigation.  Additionally, he or she can explain ways that you can protect your assets in case litigation does ensue.

How a Probate Attorney in Broadway NC Can Help with Small Estates

Not every family is required to go through the long and formal process of probate.  Many states, like North Carolina, have established shortcuts in transferring property after a decedent’s death.  A probate attorney in Broadway North Carolina can evaluate a case and determine whether the probate process is actually necessary.  In the case of small estates, a probate attorney in Broadway North Carolina may be able to help families more quickly inherit and sidestep the probate process.  

North Carolina allows a person to submit an affidavit if the estate is under a certain value.  A probate attorney can help prepare the Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of Decedent.  On this form, he or she states that the decedent’s personal property is valued at less than $20,000 or less than $30,000 if the individual on the affidavit is the surviving spouse who has the right to inherit everything according to state law.  The affidavit must also state that it has been at least 30 days since the decedent’s death.  The lawyer also identifies assets and their value on the affidavit, along with a description of the legal reason for the inheritance, either through the will or through the laws of intestacy.

A probate attorney also assists in filing this affidavit with the appropriate county probate court.  The attorney can provide copies of this filing to the individual who stands to inherit.  The beneficiary then takes the form to the financial institution that is holding the asset or who is controlling the asset, such as a bank or department of motor vehicles.

Probate attorneys can assist with this process and with informing beneficiaries of other responsibilities that they have under this process.  They can also check to make sure that no one else has initiated a probate proceeding, which can invalidate this process.

Why a Personal Representative Needs a Probate Attorney in Lee County

If you have been named a personal representative in someone’s will, you should consider it a great honor.  This means that the individual trusts you to carry out the instructions in his or her will.  However, being a personal representative comes with great responsibility.  In some instances, you can be held personally liable if you make mistakes during the probate process.  A probate attorney in Lee County can explain the various requirements of this position.  Additionally, a probate attorney in Lee County can assist with some of the many tasks that you will have to take care of.

The personal representative is responsible for identifying and locating the decedent’s assets.  Some assets transfer outside the probate process such as assets that are transferred through a beneficiary designation form while others are part of the probate estate.  Beneficiary designation forms are commonly used with life insurance policies and retirement accounts.  Additionally, the personal representative must inform beneficiary and heirs of the decedent’s passing and the appointment of personal representative.  The personal representative is also responsible for identifying creditors and notifying them of their timeline to file a claim against the estate.

A probate attorney can advise the personal representative along the way.  Additionally, he or she can help the personal representative demonstrate his or her legal right to act on behalf of the estate.  A probate attorney may help file a federal and state tax return for the estate and open a checking account in the name of the estate in order to carry out these final tasks.  If a legal claim arises against the estate or the will is challenged, a probate attorney can provide legal advice about the options to responding to these claims.

Do You Need a Probate Attorney in Sanford NC?

Probate refers to the legal process of administering the estate assets of someone who has died.  If you are the administrator or personal representative of a deceased loved one’s estate, you may find the North Carolina probate process complex and overwhelming at times.  You will most certainly need the assistance of an experienced probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina to guide you through the process.  A probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina can provide you with the advice and legal representation you need to appropriately handle the administration of your loved one’s estate.

Not all estate assets are required to go through the probate process.  In North Carolina, some assets that can be transferred outside of probate include:

  • assets the deceased person owned in joint tenancy;
  • real estate the deceased person owned with his or her spouse in “tenancy by the entirety”;
  • retirement accounts for which the deceased person named a beneficiary, or payable-on-death bank accounts;
  • life insurance proceeds or pension benefits that are payable to a named beneficiary; and
  • assets held in a revocable living trust.

If the value of an estate is small enough, the state of North Carolina offers the option of an expedited procedure to transfer the assets of an estate without having to go through formal probate.  This requires the filing of a completed Affidavit For Collection Of Personal Property Of Decedent with the clerk of the superior court in the county where the deceased individual resided.  Once filed, a certified copy may be presented to institutions holding the estate assets, and new title documents will be issued.  If a probate proceeding had not already been initiated, the person filing the affidavit will receive the personal property of the estate, pay any estate creditors, and then distribute the remainder of the estate assets to the appropriate heirs.

Why You Need a Probate Attorney in Lee County NC

When someone dies leaving assets titled in his or her name, probate proceedings are generally required.  Probate refers to the legal process that allows a surviving spouse or other close family member the authority to engage in administrative functions on behalf of the deceased’s estate in order to pay any debts, taxes and transfer assets to the appropriate heirs.  Probate can be complicated and will likely require the advice and assistance of a competent probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina.  If your loved one has passed away and you do not know what to do, you should contact a probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina as soon as possible to guide you through the probate process.

During the probate process, the court will appoint a personal representative to take charge of the estate.  If there is a will, the court will appoint the executor named in the will as the personal representative.  In the absence of a will, the court will appoint an administrator.  If there is a surviving spouse, he or she has first priority to be appointed as administrator of the deceased’s estate.

Certain assets of a decedent’s estate may be transferred without going through probate.  Some common examples of these types of assets include:

  • assets of the decedent owned in joint tenancy, which automatically pass to the surviving owner;
  • real estate of the decedent owned with his or her spouse in “tenancy by the entirety”;
  • assets for which a beneficiary has been named outside of the will such as payable-on-death bank accounts or retirement accounts;
  • proceeds from a life insurance policy or pension benefits that are payable to a named beneficiary;
  • assets held in a revocable living trust.

If you have any questions about the administration of a deceased relative’s estate, you should consult with an experienced probate attorney for more information about wills, estates and the probate process.

Choosing a Probate Attorney in Lee County NC

A probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina helps clients represent their interests in certain claims that involved a deceased individual.  For example, a probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina may be hired to determine an individual’s true intent for the distribution of an estate.  Or, if there is more than one will in existence, a probate attorney may help clients figure out which one is valid.  If an individual died without a will, the probate attorney can provide advice and guidance as to how any property will be distributed to surviving family members.

How do you select a probate attorney? First, see if your friends or relatives have recommendations for attorneys they have used in the past.  If they do not, look for probate attorneys in your area.  Look them up on the Internet and check out their websites.

Many attorneys offer a free or low-cost consultation for potential clients.  Set up a few consultations with attorneys in your area.  When meeting with these attorneys, ask them what percentage of their practice is probate law, and how long they have been practicing probate law.  The more probate cases an attorney has, and the longer an attorney has been practicing probate law, the better the chances are that the attorney will provide you with excellent representation.

Additionally, ask the probate attorneys about their office and billing procedures.  Will you be billed on a weekly basis, or every thirty days? If you have a question, will you be directed to a paralegal, or will you be able to get in touch with your attorney? Make sure that the answers to these questions suit your preferences.

Of course, make sure that your attorney’s personality clicks with yours—after all, you will be working together for some time on an emotional matter.