Our condolences if you are here following the loss of a loved one. No amount of advanced planning and preparedness on the part of the deceased can alleviate the grief and emotional loss felt by the surviving family and close friends.
The reality, however, is that you or someone you know has the responsibility and duty to start the administration process. The complexity and specific requirements will vary based on the decedent’s prior advanced planning (or lack thereof), and the amount of assets and liabilities involved. The tasks and responsibilities required can be overwhelming, especially at a time when the family is still grieving. Our goal is to carefully and compassionately address the needs of surviving family members, while efficiently handling the administration under the decedent’s estate planning documents or the North Carolina intestacy laws if no valid estate planning documents exist.
Our role may be very limited or very involved depending on your situation. Here are some of the valuable services offered to our clients responsible for administering an estate or trust:
If there is a Will or Trust
If you are the executor or trustee named in the deceased will or trust documents, you are considered a fiduciary. You should seek legal counsel to make sure you fully understand your duties and responsibility under the documents and applicable state laws. If you are the beneficiary named in a will or trust, we can explain the administration process and how you can expect to receive your inheritance.
If there is No Will or Trust
If you are a spouse, child or parent of the deceased and there is no will to probate, you may have a right to administer the estate and/or you may be an heir entitled to receive property from the estate. We can help advise you as to your rights and how next to proceed.
Is a Court Probate or Administration Even Needed?
There are situations where advanced planning can allow the family to avoid the court probate or administration process altogether. We can advise whether this is the case in your situation.
Court Probate or Administration Required
If a court probate (administering pursuant to a will) or court administration (administering under the North Carolina intestate secession laws) is required, the Executor or Administrator will often engage an experienced attorney to help. These legal fees are considered administration fees that can be paid by the estate. As the attorney for the estate, we help the Executor or Administrator gather all the information the Court requires and will prepare all the court forms. You can sign all the required filings by mail or in our office and will likely never have to appear before the Clerk. Small estate can be closed within 90 days. While we try to have full estates closed within a year, it sometimes takes longer.
Administering Non-Probate Assets
We help clients identify, collect and administer non-probate assets such as life insurance death benefits, retirement assets, and other accounts passing by beneficiary designation form. It can be confusing as to which assets are subject to the court probate or administration and which are not.
Paying Debts of the Estate
There are very specific laws governing how creditors’ claims are to be administered, included required notices and priority of claims for insolvent estates. We can help the executor or administrator in the settlement of claims. A personal representative responsible for administering an insolvent estate should seek legal advice as they may be held personally liable if claims are not paid in accordance with these laws.
Tax Compliance and Planning
Tax compliance and tax planning should be considered in all estate administrations. Usually, the executor or administrator will need to file the final federal and state income taxes for the decedent (and verify there are no unfiled or unpaid taxes due for prior years). In addition, the estate may have a duty to file federal and state income tax returns and possibly federal and state estate tax returns. Tax planning for Spousal and Inherited IRAs should also not be overlooked. Our firm can work closing with you and your tax and other professional advisors to make ensure compliance with tax laws and to incorporate tax planning as part of the
Distributions to Estate and Trust Beneficiaries
Making sure beneficiaries receive the proper distributions from the estate or trust is probably one the most important part of any administration process. We can help the fiduciary complies with the terms of the governing will or trust agreement and any applicable probate and trust laws.
North Carolina estate administration laws have certain provisions providing protection and benefits for surviving spouses of a decedent. If you are a surviving spouse and would like to learn more about these laws and how they might apply in your situation we can help you.
Estate and Trust Administrations can be time intensive matters. Our goal is to help you carry out the wishes of the deceased’s wishes in the most efficient and economical manner possible. We are conscious of the costs and fees associated with these administrations and take every effort to minimize our legal fees by having our experienced and trained support staff handle as much of the casework as possible.
We handle the administration of estates of all sizes. We often represent out-of-state executors and personal representatives. We also represent the beneficiaries of estates and trusts who have questions about the administration process and want independent representation to protect their interests.
Your journey with the Linville Law Team begins with our initial consultation process, where we work together to create a plan designed to meet your objectives. If you would like our help with an Estate Administration or need more information, please call us at 704-323-6712 or Request A Consultation. Be sure to look through our Client Testimonials to see how we have helped others.