Wilmington Estate Administration Lawyer

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Wilmington Estate Administration Lawyer

Many people know that they need to engage in estate planning in order to ensure that their assets are managed in accordance with their wishes after they pass away, but estate administration is an equally important part of this process that begins on the other side. If you’re looking for a Wilmington estate administration lawyer to help navigate the ins and outs of an estate–whether that’s probate for a will, or administration for a trust, you’ll likely have some questions about what the process looks like and how to make sure you find the best fit.

What does a Wilmington estate administration lawyer do?

In North Carolina, both will-based estates and intestacy (dying without an estate plan) are handled through a process called probate. Probate is the court-controlled legal process through which the estate is managed. It includes the following:

  • Filing an estate inventory
  • Collecting assets (such as real estate, personal property, savings accounts, etc.)
  • Notification of creditors
  • Paying off the estate’s debts
  • Distributing remaining funds to heirs (in accordance with a will, if available)
  • Filing a final accounting

This estate administration process needs to be overseen by someone, and that person is the estate administrator. Often, an estate administration lawyer is hired to take care of these legal proceedings to ensure that everything is completed accurately and efficiently and by court-imposed deadlines.

Why would I need an estate administration lawyer?

Often, managing an estate after death is challenging work. Simply locating and gathering all of a person’s assets — especially if the person died unexpectedly or without having gotten accounts in order — can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Many times, family members are already tied up with other responsibilities, including dealing with the aftermath of their loved one’s death and any disruptions it has caused to normal routines.

To put it simply, managing an estate is a big job that many people feel ill-equipped to take on. This may be because they lack the expertise or because they lack the time. Either way, bringing on an experienced estate administration lawyer can provide everyone with the peace of mind that the tasks associated with managing the final affairs will be handled professionally and with attention to detail.

While some estates are relatively straightforward and easy to manage, many involve complicated documentation and legal processes.

In these cases, the process of ensuring that the estate is managed in accordance with the decedent’s wishes can be complex. An estate administration lawyer can ensure it goes smoothly.

Who pays for an estate administration lawyer?

The cost of administration for an estate — especially if it is cumbersome and complicated — is often covered by the estate itself. The fees that an estate administration lawyer charges for their services can be paid from the funds available in the estate before they are distributed to heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with a will.

Who can serve as an administrator of an estate?

Part of your estate planning includes naming an executor (also known as a personal representative). This person will administer your estate after your death, and it should be someone you trust. The restrictions on who can be appointed to this role in North Carolina are minimal — they must be an adult of sound mind. However, you should take this decision seriously and appoint someone who is detail-oriented, trustworthy, and capable of clear communication.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

When someone dies without having a will in place, which is called intestacy, the process can become quite complicated. In these cases, the process of probate can become time-consuming and contested. Often, property will pass down through a chain starting with the decedent’s living spouse and children. From there, the chain moves through more distant relatives, but it can become complicated and costly to negotiate.

In these cases, an experienced Wilmington estate administration lawyer helps to ensure that everything is being accounted for fairly and accurately and that the decisions are being made in an unbiased and legal way.

What happens if an estate runs out of money?

In some cases, debts exceed the assets within the estate. When that happens, the estate is deemed “insolvent,” and creditors will be satisfied based on a court-imposed priority.

In these cases, a Wilmington estate administration lawyer can be very helpful in removing the burden of dealing with creditors by navigating the negotiations. Contact us right away to discuss your estate administration needs.

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Frequently (un)asked questions

How much does an estate administration lawyer cost?

The cost of an estate administration lawyer is going to depend on the size of the estate and the complexity of the work. We charge $300 for the initial consultation, and require a retainer of $2,500 – $5,000 to begin work and enter an appearance with the court.

When should you contact an estate administration lawyer?

There’s a lot to do after a loved one has passed away, and allowing time for funeral services and grieving is important. Most people contact an estate administration lawyer shortly after funeral services have ended.

Does everything in an estate pass through an estate?

No. Many accounts such as life insurance and retirement benefits will have their own process of determining beneficiaries following a death. These assets pass outside the estate.

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