Logically following estate planning is estate, probate, and trust administration — putting the plan into operation. Sorrell Law Firm represents family members who have lost a loved one, whether they be fiduciaries, beneficiaries, or both. There are many aspects to this, including collecting assets and debts, finalizing business dealings, preparing all documents and filings required under North Carolina law, and preparing income tax returns for the estate, as well as any required estate tax returns.
Where 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 Probate (whether formal or informal). *Please see the Probate section for more information on how we can help with Probate matters.*
But many people are using trusts for the majority of their estate planning. (These people usually have a will also, but it may be a mere ‘safety net’.) Trust administration does not usually require court pleadings or filings, but many of the same administration, distribution, creditor and tax issues are present and require attention. And courts may become involved if creditors (or taxes!) go unpaid or family members are disgruntled. In this area, we counsel fiduciaries (trustees) regarding the rights and interests of beneficiaries, and recommend steps or actions to help the fiduciary operate the trust in compliance with the appropriate fiduciary laws and avoid personal liability for their actions, or inaction.
We also assist in the administration of guardianship estates and special needs trusts (please see those sections for more information.) We take special care during these difficult times to represent families with caring and compassionate counsel, guidance and direction. Our counsel to surviving spouses and children can help them make sound legal decisions for their future.