Estate Administration

We understand navigating the administration process can be overwhelming, especially when you find yourself in the role of an executor, administrator, personal representative, or trustee. With us by your side, you can navigate the complexities of estate administration with confidence.

When it comes to estate matters, most cases proceed smoothly through the probate courts. However, disputes can arise, leading to litigation. Leger Law represents beneficiaries, trustees, and personal representatives in North Carolina, handling probate, estate, and trust litigation. This can involve contesting a will, addressing mismanagement of funds, or dealing with a spouse's elective share.

An estate encompasses all the real estate and personal property owned by a person at the time of their death. Debts owed by the deceased are also considered part of the estate.

Probate is the process of presenting a will to the court for validation. Once probated, the estate is administered according to the will and North Carolina law. This includes filing inventories, publishing notices, paying creditors and court costs, distributing assets, and often engaging an attorney for assistance. Our expertise in probate laws enables us to effectively represent our clients, no matter the complexity of the case.

When a person dies without a will (intestate), estate administration is carried out solely based on North Carolina law. Similar to probate, this process involves filing inventories, publishing notices, paying creditors and court costs, distributing assets to legal heirs, and often seeking legal assistance.

An executor and an administrator are both personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate. If there is a will, the Clerk of Superior Court appoints an executor to administer the estate. If there is no will or the will is deemed invalid, the Clerk appoints an administrator.

Being named as an executor or administrator is a significant responsibility. Before accepting the role, it’s essential to understand the duties involved and what you are comfortable undertaking. While every estate is unique, common duties include opening the estate, filing the will, creating asset inventories, listing beneficiaries, transferring titles, paying creditors, filing tax returns, publishing estate notices, maintaining records, providing an accounting to the court, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Posting a bond is an insurance policy that may be required for an executor or administrator to assume control of the estate. The person must contact a bond company, provide personal financial information, and be approved for the bond. Exceptions to this requirement can be made, such as if the will specifies that no bond is necessary. Consult an estate administration attorney to determine if you qualify for an exception.

The bond’s amount is based on the total value of the estate’s personal property, requiring a minimum of 125% coverage. The premium to be paid typically ranges from 1% to 4% of the bond value.

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) serves as a taxpayer identification number for the estate. The IRS issues an EIN, necessary for filing tax returns and opening accounts in the estate’s name. You can obtain an EIN from the IRS website.

A trustee administers a trust in accordance with the trust instrument, federal and North Carolina laws. There are various types of trusts, such as revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, and Special Needs Trusts. Trustee responsibilities vary based on the trust type, assets involved, and beneficiaries’ needs. We regularly represent trustees in different capacities and can also act as a trustee for specific trusts.

Common duties of a trustee include understanding the trust terms, managing trust assets, distributing funds to beneficiaries, approving or disapproving fund requests, paying bills, filing tax returns (if necessary), keeping records, and providing regular statements to beneficiaries.