In Morganton, North Carolina, the probate court decides if a will is legal and binding. The court must then decide whether to follow the wishes of the deceased. All of this comes at a difficult time for family members.
When a loved one passes on, dealing with their estate can be very emotional. The paperwork associated with closing an estate can be very complicated. Our Morganton probate lawyers can handle the process for you. We can also litigate on your behalf if you want to dispute a will or if another person is disputing your handling of the estate.
How Does the Probate Process Work in Morganton, NC?
The probate process has a definitive path to close an estate. There are several duties the court must do to start the process:
- Determine whether a will is valid
- Take stock of the estate and its assets
- Total the debts of the deceased
After the will is deemed valid, the court then distributes the assets as specified in the will. The court must then approve and appoint an executor of the estate as named in the will.
In cases where no executor is named in the will, the court will appoint and administrator. This court-appointed administrator is often a spouse, child, or parent.
How Can a Morganton Probate Lawyer Help Me?
When a loved one’s estate must be closed, tensions often run high. Family emotions run high. Many laypeople do not understand the law. The entire probate process, coupled with the grief of losing a cherished family member, can make an already difficult situation even worse.
The team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC helps families through the difficult probate process. Our Morganton office can help you by filling out the necessary paperwork, explaining the legal process to you, and advising you as to your next steps.
Our Legal Services
We can cater our level of service based on your needs. If you are currently living in the Morganton area and need help understanding the steps you need to take, we can help. If you live out of town and need more assistance, we can help. Some of the tasks we can do include:
- Creating a will
- Reviewing a will
- Assistance with a fidelity bond
- Disposing of assets
- Mediation between heirs
We can help you begin the probate process through the successful closing of the estate. There is no need for you to go through this trying time alone.
If you believe your loved one’s wishes are not being honored, we can help you dispute the handling of their estate. We can also help if you are the estate administrator and are facing probate litigation.
Probate litigation is different from other forms of litigation. It involves more entities, such as creditors, and it can be difficult to navigate while you are grieving a family member. We can represent you and help:
- Dispute the validity of a will
- Hold an estate administrator to the requirements of a will
- Meet deadlines
- File paperwork
We understand probate litigation is the last thing you want to deal with right now. We offer each of our clients personalized attention so the process is as smooth as possible. When you work with us, we treat you like family.
Am I Responsible for Paying Off a Loved One’s Debts?
As the estate administrator, you may be responsible for your loved one’s debts. Examples of debt you may be responsible for include:
- Car loans
- Student loans
- Credit cards
When an estate is closed, assets of the estate are used to settle any debts the deceased may have had. The remaining assets are distributed according to the terms of the will.
What are Unfair or Illegal Debt Collector Practices?
There are laws in place to protect grieving family members and spouses from being harassed by hostile dent collectors using deceitful or unfair methods to collect a debt. Under the terms of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors may not:
- Make excessive phone calls
- Falsely represent themselves\
- Make false statements
- Threaten legal action
- Use illegal communication strategies
- Continue to collect on debts no longer owed
- Informing a third party of a person’s debt without consent
Our Morganton probate lawyer can help handle the parties involved in probate court, including debt collectors.
What Steps Should a Morganton Estate Administrator Take?
If you are the administrator of an estate in Morganton, North Carolina, taking the following steps will likely make the probate process easier for you.
Locate Your Loved One’s Will
If the deceased had a will, find it as quickly as possible. Find out if there is an executor named in the will. Preserve the rights of the deceased’s spouse. Under North Carolina law, the spouse of the deceased may draw an allowance from the estate for up to a year to assist with the transition.
If you delay opening an estate, it may cost you significantly more money as the process goes on. A skilled Morganton attorney can help you avoid delays and additional costs.
Gather the Assets of the Deceased
Secure all deeds, mortgage notes, credit cards, computers, mobile phones, and other important belongings. Place them in a secure location, such as a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.
Notify all banks and creditors that the account holder has passed.
Maintain Detailed Records
Any money spent from an account tied to the estate must be recorded. Secure all receipts and banking records. Improper records can delay the closing of the estate and draw out an already painful process.
You Can Hire a Morganton Probate Lawyer From Our Firm
The process for opening and then closing an estate is complicated. Losing a cherished loved one doesn’t have to be complicated with confusing paperwork filled with inaccessible legal jargon.
The attorneys at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC are more than happy to help you navigate this difficult time. Call our office at (828)438-8418 or use our secure contact form to discuss your situation.