We assist clients after the loss of a loved one. Whether a loved one dies with no will (called dying “intestate”) or with a will as their primary estate planning tool (called dying “testate”), this process involves what is often called Probate (whether formal or informal) and estate administration.
What is Probate?
Probate is, technically, the legal term for establishing the validity of a will and entering it upon the record. The term is often used more generically for the process of settling the estate of someone who has died. It can be a complicated process, and involves the gathering of assets that are properly part of the estate, payment of legitimate debts, finding the proper heirs and properly distributing the estate. If there is a will, there may be challenges to that will. Either with or without a will, there are legal procedures that vary by state that must be followed.
Technically, Probate refers to the process by which the court determines the authenticity and enforceability of a will. As a general matter, however, the term is usually used to refer to the entire process of gathering assets, seeing that enforceable and proper debts are paid (in the correct order), and distributing remaining assets to the proper beneficiaries. It may also involve defending the will against legal challenges (called “caveats”) or other claims. Where an estate is small and enforceable creditor claims will all be paid, it may not be necessary to actually open an estate. In such a situation there are various tools for ‘informal probate’ which may be used depending upon the circumstances.
North Carolina has very specific estate filings and detailed probate procedures
In North Carolina, there are very specific filings and detailed procedures required by the Courts. Generally there will be tax forms that must be completed and filed as well. While North Carolina does not require you to use an attorney for probate, the process can be extremely complicated.
We advise clients on whether formal probate (i.e., opening an estate) is necessary and how best to proceed to wrap up the affairs of a loved one. We also guide executors and administrators on protecting themselves from liability stemming from mishandling their duties.
- We can assist you in the administration of an intestate estate
- We can assist you in the probate of a will
- We can assist out-of-state executors or counsel with assets located in Cabarrus or Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Unique issues and needs
We know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ in probate. Individuals vary in their ability to handle these various issues on their own. Some clients only need a little guidance and to have their questions answered, and we can usually do that for them in the context of a consultation. Where more help is needed, we can provide more assistance. We will tailor our service to fit your needs, providing you with as much or as little assistance as you need to get through the process.