When someone passes away, the last thing on their loved one’s minds is the administration of their decedent’s estate and is a natural and reasonable reaction. The reality is that the administration of a decedent’s estate is an important matter. Estate administration can be a complex and overwhelming process and should not be placed on the back burner. In this post, we will walk you through the probate process, why it is sometimes necessary, what it entails, and why you might require a lawyer’s services in navigating or avoiding it.
The probate process, more formally known as estate administration, refers to the process of handling one’s assets and debts after they pass away. This process plays itself out for all decedents but with certain advanced estate planning measures, it is possible to largely avoid this process. Nevertheless, the first and perhaps most important step in the probate process is the appointment of a representative of one’s estate. This can either be done in advance of death through a will or after death through appointment by the clerk of the court’s office. If this personal representative is appointed through a will, they are what is known as an executor. When appointed by the clerk of court, they are known as an administrator. Regardless of their title, the person is responsible for inventorying the decedent’s assets, notifying creditors of the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s property to their beneficiaries (decided by a will or the state’s intestacy rules (default rules)). After completion of their duties as personal representative, this individual is entitled to compensation for their services out of the estate’s funds.
Property that typically passes through probate is wide and varied. The typical types of property involved include vehicles, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, furniture, jewelry, etc. Depending on the size of a decedent’s estate, the role of a personal representative can be of varying complexity. Regardless of the size of one’s estate, the probate process is typically long as the administration of the average estate can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. As such, many individuals find the process of probating an estate to be burdensome. In instances where this is the case, the appointed personal representative can retain the services of a lawyer who will assist them through their duties and responsibilities. Hiring an attorney to assist one through the probate process has become an increasingly popular option for individuals. This helps ensure that one is not walking through a strange process without any guidance or assistance.
At King Law Offices, we have a team of attorneys and case managers who are well-versed when it comes to the probate process. Whether you have recently lost a loved one and need help navigating the estate administration process or you are interested in proactive measures which can be taken to avoid the probate process entirely when you pass, we stand by ready to assist you. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys in western North Carolina or upstate South Carolina, please reach out to us at (888)-748-KING (5464) or online at www.kinglawoffices.com.