Donald R. Fuller, JR., PLLC provides a full range of services relating to wills, from initial drafting through execution and probate. I also review existing wills for possible need of amendment, revocation or replacement. Whether you are a testator formulating an estate plan or an executor implementing a deceased testator’s wishes, Donald R. Fuller, JR., PLLC can simplify many complex aspects of the tasks before you. I offer pertinent and personal legal advice to obtain the results you need in a timely manner with the least stress possible.
Executing a valid will is the best means of ensuring that your wishes will be carried out concerning what happens to your assets after you die. Your will describes how your property is to be managed and distributed, contemplates various contingencies and appoints an executor to administer your estate. Absent a will, the court chooses who administers your estate and distributes your property in accordance with the law of intestacy, which specifies which heirs receive your assets and in what proportions.
The probate court oversees the administration of decedents’ estates. It first determines the validity of the will, determining whether the document was executed intentionally and freely by a person of sound mind and was properly signed and witnessed. In addition, the probate court oversees the executor’s performance of his or her duties and rules on any estate issues raised by the executor or another interested party.
I work closely with my clients to help them memorialize their intentions completely and give instructions for carrying them out as efficiently as possible. My experience in the probate court enables me to provide practical advice for testators from all walks of life, whether they are elders or young people planning ahead. Similarly, my work in the formation of wills gives me keen insight into how executors should interpret various aspects of a will that may initially seem unclear.
Many executors have never probated a will and others who have done so may encounter problems they did not face before. I provide valuable services to executors of all levels of experience on all of the matters that may arise. Among the most important duties of an executor are finding and assembling the decedent’s assets, transferring them from the decedent’s name to the estate and collecting amounts owed to the decedent and the estate. The executor must also arrange for valuations of non-cash by appraisers, accountants or other appropriate experts.
During probate, the executor must preserve and manage the property and, if the decedent operated a family-owned business, arrange for the prompt succession of the business’ management. The executor must pay off any debts and taxes the decedent owed, as well as pay estate taxes and any debts owed by the estate. If the testator created a trust, the executor must make sure that the appropriate assets are transferred into it. At the end of the process, after locating the beneficiaries, the executor must ensure that they receive the assets to which they are entitled under the will.
If you are appointed an executor, I can as your counsel guide you through every step of the probate process with reliable, detailed advice so you can settle the testator’s estate as efficiently, quickly and easily as possible.
Even in apparently straightforward estate cases, disputes sometimes arise between beneficiaries and the will’s executor. One particularly thorny problem is when heirs of the decedent contest the will in whole or in part, raising such challenges as:
Another ground for dispute is where the executor’s performance under the will is questioned. Whether the claim is inattention to duties, mismanagement of estate assets or some other mistake or omission, I advocate vigorously for whichever party I represent.
Donald R. Fuller, JR., PLLC in Hickory provides will and probate court services in Hickory and throughout North Carolina. Call me at 828-449-8401 or contact my office online to schedule a consultation.