We understand that most people do not want to think about creating a will, but it is very important for you to plan ahead.  If you do not have a will, the State of North Carolina will distribute your property to family members.  Make sure that you are in control of where your property goes by hiring an estate planning attorney to create a will for you. If you are divorced, come see us to modify your will to ensure that your property does not go to a former spouse.  Who do you want in charge of making your financial and healthcare decisions if you are incapacitated?  Do you need guidance through the probate process?  We can help you plan ahead for your estate or finalize a loved one’s affairs after he or she has passed away.

Estate Administration

The Role of an Estate Administration Lawyer

An estate administrator basically ensures that all of stipulations in the will are carried out in a timely manner.  Other duties include collecting any income that is owed to the estate; paying any outstanding debts, including income taxes; withholding any inheritance taxes; and, finally, distributing the remaining financial assets to the rightful beneficiaries.  If you have been chosen as an executor or estate administrator for someone’s estate, the lawyers at Helms Robison & Lee, PA can assist you with the process.  Or, if you are looking for a trusted agent to act as your administrator, our attorneys will be happy to assist you.

Estate Litigation

Will Contests and Other Estate Litigation Matters

Disputes over the distribution of an estate or the handling of a trust can cause rifts in families and stress for everyone involved.  If you suspect that an estate is being mishandled, or if you are being accused of improperly handling assets, it is important to hire a knowledgeable attorney at Helms Robison & Lee, PA to protect your interests.

Contesting a Will

If you believe you have unfairly been left out of a loved one’s will, or if you believe the probated will is fraudulent, our lawyers can help you contest the will.  We have helped numerous clients contest wills for of a variety of reasons, including:

  • Undue influence: This occurs when a family member or caregiver exerts excessive influence on the decedent to get him or her to change a will.
  • Duress: Similar to undue influence, a will can be contested when decedents act against their nature when altering their estates in response to the improper actions of another person, such as threats.
  • Mental incapacity: A will cannot be properly created if the decedent lacked mental capacity at the time the will was signed.  If the decedent was insane or mentally incompetent, we will bring an action to contest the will for you.
  • Improper execution: Every will must be properly signed and witnessed.  If a will does not meet these requirements, the will could be invalidated.
  • Forgery or fraud: If you believe the will was never signed by the decedent, we can assist you in contesting the will.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Trustees and representatives of estates have a fiduciary duty to the estate they are handling.  Since they are dealing with money and assets, they are held to a high level of accountability and honesty.  As an outsider, however, it can be hard to know when this duty has been breached.

There are many ways for trustees or representatives to breach their fiduciary duties, including:

  • Improperly investing funds to the detriment of the beneficiaries
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries incorrectly or not within a reasonable time
  • Misappropriating trust or estate assets for personal use
  • Paying themselves an excessive fee for their services

Contact Helms Robison & Lee, PA to set up your consultation today.

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