Estate administration in Raleigh is a complex legal matter that requires in-depth knowledge of estate law, probate, and property distribution. The executor of the estate is in charge of these matters, but all too often, the named executor is a family member or loved one of the deceased who is not only grieving, they don’t have the legal experience and knowledge to successfully oversee the estate administration. This can lead to multiple problems with the estate, including financial penalties, delays in property distribution, and inadvertently accruing debts.
At Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler, and Thomas, we work with estate executors, taking over much of the tasks related to administering to the estate and also act as executors in many cases. Our team of attorneys offer expert counsel based on extensive knowledge of North Carolina laws and protocols related to estate distribution while providing comprehensive services to ensure an efficient process.
Understanding Estate Administration in Raleigh
When someone passes away, all of their assets are compiled into one estate. This includes personal possessions, investment and retirement accounts, cash, real estate, and vehicles. Assuming there is a will, detailed instructions are left regarding how those assets are to be distributed. Also in the will, an executor is named – a person who is responsible for finalizing the estate and carrying out the distribution process. Estate administration is simply referring to all the actions involved in finalizing an estate and ensuring the deceased wishes as stated in the will are carried out.
When Is Probate a Necessity?
If a person passes away without a will or there are concerns regarding the legality of the will, it is often necessary for the property to go through probate. Probate is the legal overseeing of property distribution and finalization of debts and often takes several months to complete. When there is a will in place, probate involves several steps:
- Either an executor is already named in the will or the probate court appoints someone to act as executor.
- The will needs to be proven valid in a court of law.
- All assets are identified, inventoried, and appraised, then held until the end of probate.
- Taxes and debts are paid from the deceased’s assets, often by the executor.
- Any remaining assets are distributed by the executor in accordance to the will.
When there is no will, the assets are distributed in accordance with state inheritance laws.
Responsibilities of an Executor in Estate Administration
An executor has more to do than simply divide up property. If you are named as an executor, you have the legal responsibility over the entire estate administration process, including:
Gathering Paperwork and Documentation
When a person passes away, the executor must ensure that the death certificate is obtained, as that’s often needed to cancel accounts and collect insurance. He or she must also locate the will and determine if probate is needed.
Before distributing assets and carrying out the will, it’s important to gather all the assets to keep them safe during the finalizing process. This includes protecting property, such as changing locks, collecting interest and dividends that are due, and putting valuables in a safe space, like a safety deposit box.
Finalizing Accounts and Affairs
The most complicated part of estate administration is making sure everything is finalized prior to distributing property and assets to heirs. Taxes and debts must be paid off, and during this time, it’s important to alert the bank, credit card companies, and the Social Security Administration that the person has passed away.
Once the debts and taxes are settled, the executor must locate people named in the will and ensure they receive their inheritance in accordance to the deceased’s wishes.
Using an Attorney for Estate Administration
If you have been named an executor, you are legally responsible for acting in responsibly and in good faith to protect the assets of the deceased. This means that you can be held liable if you made a mistake in settling a debt or failed to protect property before an heir could take ownership of it.
Instead of shouldering the stress and responsibility, an experienced estate administration attorney in Raleigh can take on many of these tasks on your behalf. This not only protects your interests, someone with experience can expedite the process and complete many of the actions more quickly and efficiently, while minimizing expenditures of the estate.
Contact Our Raleigh Law Firm for Estate Administration Assistance
At Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler, and Thomas, we know that the role of executor is often overwhelming and difficult, and those feelings are only exacerbated by grief over losing a loved one. Instead of taking on this burden alone, we can take on the tasks related to estate administration. With our experience, we can expedite the processes involved so you can move on confidently.
Learn more about our services by calling (919) 615-2473 or by completing the contact form below.
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