Hickory Probate Lawyer

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Hickory Probate Attorney

North Carolina’s probate courts ensure that the property of deceased persons goes to the right beneficiaries and heirs. When proper estate planning has been conducted ahead of time, the probate process can move smoothly. When there are questions about who inherits what, the probate courts will follow the rules of intestate succession when settling an estate.

If you need a lawyer to oversee your estate planning or if a loved one recently passed away, you can rely on the services of a Hickory probate lawyer to guide you through the probate process.

What Goes Through Probate?

Certain types of assets are considered probate assets. These include bank accounts, vehicles, stocks, bonds, jewelry, and furniture. These probate assets are handled through the estate administration process.

Non-probate assets include assets and property that pass outside the probate process. These assets are said to have a right of survivorship. One example would be a piece of land that is jointly owned by a married couple. When one spouse dies, the other spouse retains ownership over the land. Other examples of jointly owned assets that usually do not have to pass through probate courts include retirement accounts, insurance policies, joint bank accounts, and annuities.

Common Probate Law Terms

While going through probate or estate planning, you may hear several new terms that are used in probate court. The person who has died is called the decedent. The term “estate” applies to all the property and money that were owned by a person at the time of their death. Estates do not have to include land.

A last will and testament is another term for a will. This instrument is created during the decedent’s lifetime. Wills are usually drafted by attorneys. They can be typed or handwritten. A will has no legal effect until the will is probated by a court.

The term probate refers to estate administration or the process by which a court finds that a will is the valid testament of the decedent. Estate administration is a process of settling someone’s assets and debts after they die.

How Does Probate Work?

Probate in North Carolina is a court-supervised process that authorizes someone to manage an estate. Only estates of a certain size have to go through probate. One of the first steps in probate involves appointing a personal representative to handle the settling of the estate. Usually, this person is named in the will. If a representative is not named, the court will appoint someone.

Steps involved in the probate process include:

  • Accounting for all the decedent’s property and assets
  • Paying bills
  • Distributing assets after all debts have been paid

When there is a clear and valid will in place, the assets will be distributed according to that will. When there is no will in place, the courts will distribute the estate’s assets according to the rules of intestate succession.

What Can Help the Probate Process Move More Quickly?

Without proper estate planning before death, surviving loved ones can be left with a sense of uncertainty that has to be cleared up through the probate courts. The time spent in court can drain the estate of important resources that could have been handed down to beneficiaries.

One way to reduce the amount of time needed in probate court is by working with an experienced probate attorney who understands how to draft wills, trusts, and other important estate planning documents. When there are clear directives for how an estate should be settled, there is far less need for intervention by the probate courts.

For example, setting up a trust can avoid the need for a probate court to administer the assets in the trust. Certain types of trusts automatically transfer ownership of assets upon the death of the settlor.


Q: How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in North Carolina?

A: A probate lawyer either charges by the hour or sets a flat fee for certain services, like setting up a will. Estate planning may initially require time, both for you and the attorney. Once the bulk of the work is done, managing and updating your estate plan, and possibly adding a power of attorney, is usually much easier.

Q: How Long Does Probate Last in North Carolina?

A: Probate lasts between several months and one year on average. Complicated cases where there wasn’t estate planning can lead to contested probate cases, which can extend the time period for settling an estate. You can minimize the time that your heirs and beneficiaries have to spend in probate court by properly handling your estate planning affairs while you are alive.

Q: What Does a Probate Lawyer in North Carolina Do?

A: A probate lawyer in North Carolina helps set up important estate planning documents while the estate owner is still alive. Once the estate owner dies, the administrator tasked with settling the estate may hire a probate lawyer to assist in legal matters. In other cases, an attorney may be the administrator tasked with settling an estate.

Q: Who Pays for a Probate Lawyer in North Carolina?

A: The estate owner typically pays for legal services, like estate planning, while they are alive. After someone dies, their will or trust may make provisions for paying for an attorney to help handle certain affairs when settling an estate. Family members and beneficiaries who disagree with the terms of a will can hire an attorney to represent them in probate court.

Schedule Your Probate Lawyer Consultation Today

One way for you to ensure that your assets and property are distributed to the beneficiaries and heirs of your choice is by working with an estate planning attorney ahead of time. They can draft a will and other estate planning documents and financial instruments as needed. Probate court can be a hassle for your loved ones. With proper planning, you can minimize the time your estate remains in probate.

If a loved one recently passed away and you need legal counsel to handle your probate court needs, Cody Law Firm can help. We can also help set up any necessary estate planning measures you need. To schedule your consultation, contact our office today.

Practice Areas

Family Law

Family Law

Estate Planning

Estate Planning



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