Serving as the executor or administrator of a Kernersville estate can be a big job. From notifying creditors to dealing with beneficiaries, ensuring the final wishes of your loved one are adhered to can be challenging. Thankfully, a seasoned trusts and estates law attorney can help you manage any difficulties head-on.
If you have been nominated to serve as the executor of a will, it is important to recognize the responsibility of this role. There are vital steps that must be taken, and any errors could lead to serious consequences for the estate—and you personally. A Kernersville estate administration lawyer at Apple Payne Law can help you perform your required duties while avoiding any possible complications. Our team is dedicated to helping families navigate life’s important decisions; let us help yours.
There are many duties when it comes to administering a probate estate in Kernersville. From gathering assets to notifying creditors, each of these steps should be handled with care. A Kernersville estate administration attorney at Apple Payne Law can assist with every step along the way, such as by:
The first thing that must happen before anything can occur is for the named executor of the will or the next of kin to be appointed as the executor or administrator of the estate. This involves filing the appropriate applications and providing related documentation to the Clerk of Court so that you have the authority to access bank accounts, pay bills, and prevent waste/theft/etc. of the property. This is the first step, but the paperwork can be confusing, and the Clerk of Court is prohibited by law from offering legal advice to the public. A skilled Kernersville probate/estate administrator lawyer such as the ones at Apple Payne Law can take this burden and handle all of the court process from the start for you, so you can focus on your family during this difficult time.
Before beneficiaries and creditors can be paid, it is necessary to gather and inventory the assets of the estate. There must be a full and accurate accounting of all the assets that belong to the estate, including jewelry, real estate, cash, or anything else of monetary value. In some cases, these assets might be liquidated to cover any expenses or debts of the estate.
There are strict formal notice requirements that come with the probate process. These notices inform interested parties—primarily creditors—of the opportunity to file a claim with the estate, and if properly followed, bar any and all claims not timely submitted. In some cases, it is also the responsibility of the administrator to object to these claims to prevent them from obtaining the assets of the estate. Failure to properly post the notice to creditors can result in having to take back assets distributed to the heirs, so it is crucial to follow the requirements of the law.
Administering an estate is not all about assets—it is also about debts and obligations as well. Estates have certain expenses, which include any tax obligations the decedent occurred before their passing. Thus, settling up with creditors and paying taxes is a part of the process as well.
Once all debts are paid, it is time to distribute the assets of the estate. This is typically done in accordance with the last will and testament, but if the estate has insufficient funds, the law of North Carolina provides a structure for the payment of the debts in a priority order, which includes the spouse of the decedent collecting a share if timely requested.
When all is said and done, the estate administrator must file a final report with the court spelling out exactly what they have done. These reports bring the process to a close.
Not every estate will go through the probate process. In fact, many people develop an estate plan with the specific goal of avoiding the probate process entirely. In these situations, the efforts of an estate administration lawyer in Kernersville could be very different.
The most commonly used tool to keep estates out of probate is a trust. Irrevocable trusts provide a path for quickly administering an estate without the cost or delays of probate. In many cases, the trustee overseeing the trust could distribute its assets promptly following the passing of the estate creator, as soon as the funds are gathered, rather than having to wait for months or even years for the estate to settle.
The estate does! While an executor who has not qualified may have to make the initial deposit to the attorney to retain them (because estate funds aren’t yet accessible), that is an expense of the estate and will be reimbursed to the personal representative/executor/administrator at the appropriate time during the administration; further any additional legal fees will also be paid out of the estate.
In North Carolina, a personal representative/executor can receive a (personal) commission ranging from 2.5-5% of the estate, depending on its complexity. So, for a $100,000 estate, the personal representative could receive between $2,500-$5,000 in relation to their service. The Clerk has to approve all payments to the personal representative to ensure that the percentage is related to the difficulty of this specific estate, but this helps compensate the executor for their time out of work, travel and other out of pocket expenses they may incur.
If you have been tasked with administering an estate, you do not have to handle this enormous responsibility alone! You are entitled to seek legal counsel that can advise you throughout the entire process, and the estate funds can be used to help pay legal fees, so that you don’t shoulder the burden of this.
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