Estate Planning and Probate

The lawyers of Essex Richards have advised individuals and families regarding their wills, estate planning, and estate administration for almost forty years.  From preparing simple wills to more complex estate plans and estate settlements, our lawyers work with clients to protect, manage, and disburse property, during a client’s lifetime, and after their death.

Our lawyers rely on their knowledge and experience to help clients create estate plans that will best suit their needs. We take into account the client’s goals and objectives and consider tax issues and tax planning, where appropriate. If a North Carolina resident dies without a Will, the North Carolina Intestate Succession Law provides for the disposition of their estate, but we think our clients should decide how their estate should be distributed, not the state legislature.

A well drafted and thoughtfully considered estate plan can accomplish one or more of the following objectives:

  • Distribution of assets to chosen beneficiaries
  • Minimize taxes
  • Name guardians and trustees for minors
  • Establish a trust to provide for the care and management of assets for minors, for a person with a disability, for tax planning or other appropriate circumstances
  • Designate an attorney in fact to assist with the handling of personal affairs when necessary
  • Designate preferences concerning life support and the designation of a person or persons to make health care decisions
  • Save heirs time and money
  • Provide the peace of mind that knowing one’s affairs are in order

Our lawyers guide clients of all ages regarding a variety of estate planning tools and options, including wills, living wills, trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable trusts, special needs trusts, durable financial powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney, and tax planning.

 

Estate Administration

After the loss of a loved one, our lawyers help clients administer and settle the estate, and will do so in a professional, sensitive, and cost-effective manner. We often work with individuals who live out of the state, but whose relatives left assets in North Carolina.

 

Estate Litigation

Our lawyers also have experience litigating matters pertaining to estates, and have represented both individuals and estates in contests defending and disputing the validity of a will, questions regarding interpretation of a will, and actions to recover estate assets which have been misappropriated.