When you come to us to help with after the death of a loved one, you can rely on us to be compassionate about your situation and open to discussing all aspects of probate and estate administration. Rest assured we will gather all the necessary data and provide you with options so you can make informed decisions. Clients rely on our open lines of communication to give them much needed peace of mind.
Dying With a Will
When a person dies with a will, the process of distributing assets in accordance with the will is called “probate.” Many people do not feel comfortable navigating the myriad rules and court documents that are required in the probate of an estate. As experienced probate attorneys we can help. If you are named as Personal Representative (also called an Executor) under the will, Strauss Attorneys, PLLC can make the process understandable and, using our expertise and efficiency to help your family in this time of transition.
Dying Without an Estate Plan
Our goal is always to create comprehensive estate plans for our clients. However, we understand that various circumstances or personal decisions sometimes result in a person dying without a will or trust in place. We are experienced at helping families in such situations. The estate of a person who has died without a will is called an “intestate estate.” The process of handling an intestate estate in the courts is similar to a will probate, but instead of following the terms of a document, the laws of the state of North Carolina will dictate who will receive the assets of the estate.
Dying with a Trust
If a person created a revocable living trust as part of his or her estate plan, then the administration process after his or her death can be simpler if the trust had been properly funded before his or her death. A fully-funded living trust (where all of the deceased’s assets are titled in the name of the revocable living trust) can avoid oversight of the probate court. This is not to say that every revocable living trust administration is easy and without pitfalls. Regardless of whether the revocable living trust document was prepared by Strauss Attorneys, PLLC, or not, anyone named as a trustee after someone’s death should seek the guidance of an experienced attorney before they begin to administer the provisions of the trust. While many trusts are straightforward and will be able to be administered without hiring an attorney, it is essential for individual trustees to get good advice. All trustees are considered fiduciaries and as such are subject to individual liability for failing to adhere to the instructions of the trust or for mishandling assets. Some trust assets such as IRAs and other complex investment vehicles can incur tax liability when not handled appropriately.
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