Probate Law

Whether you are an administrator for the estate or an heir, we help you obtain your best outcome for probate legal issues.

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Probate Court Settles Estates

Probate is the process by which the courts settle a decedent’s estate. This process is open to the public, invites creditors to submit claims against an estate, and can last between 18 and 36 months. Time delays or family disputes can create unnecessary stress for you and your family.

Probate paperwork comes with structured timelines and court-imposed deadlines. If the deceased did not choose an executor, the court must appoint an estate administrator, also called a personal representative.

The administrator makes an inventory of the estate and shows documentation that the estate has paid creditors and taxes, given out inheritances to the beneficiaries, and properly closed out all accounts.

Dying Intestate (Without a Will)

Without a will, the government takes complete control of the distribution of your assets after you pass using North Carolina intestate laws. Not having a will places your legacy in the hands of intestacy laws and the interpretation of a judge. These laws lay out what happens when someone passes away without a will.

They determine exactly who in your family will inherit. Beyond the laws, a judge whom you’ve never met decides everything else, including who will care for any children or pets.

Last Will & Testament Challenges

Heirs, beneficiaries, and those left out, can challenge the will’s terms and legality. Common challenges to the will can include accusations that the deceased was:

  • Lacking testamentary capacity
  • Delusional
  • Subject to undue influence
  • A victim of fraud

Once someone contests a will, there may be additional court dates and evidence to gather. Witnesses, doctors, psychiatrists, and social workers may need to testify along with the heirs making the dispute. The heirs who stand to lose must also plead their case. This process can last for years.

Creditor Notification

A will’s executor must notify the deceased’s creditors, so they have time to submit claims for debts. This time period varies from state to state as well, but it is generally six to nine months.

Probate is also a time when the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program can make a claim to repay any Medicaid costs. If the deceased used Medicare to pay for long-term care or in-home caregivers, etc., Medicaid Recovery could make a claim for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

MERP is an avoidable probate cost that someone can plan for with their attorney, but it is too late to think about after you die. If a probate estate includes MERP, the heirs can lose much of their expected inheritance to this state claim.

Avoid Probate with a Trust

Keeping your assets in a trust makes more sense. Estate administration is easier with a trustee handling all beneficiary asset distribution, creditor payments, and any inheritances.

 We Can Help

Whether you need to challenge a will, dispute a debt, respond to a relative’s petition to the probate court, or apply to be administrator of an estate, we are here for you. The probate process may seem daunting, but with our legal expertise, you’re in good hands.

We keep you up to date with everything that is happening and work for your best outcome in any given probate scenario. Our extensive experience in North Carolina adds up to an excellent representation for your legal issues. Contact us today and find out how we can help you move forward.

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