Attorneys often retain our estate planning and probate team to assist them with an aspect of their cases. It’s so important that attorneys pick a qualified colleague to assist them, as the decision of who to pick often reflects on the attorney — particularly if that choice turns out to be less than ideal.
I thought I would take some time to explain with a little detail how we handle cases that involve other attorneys such as personal injury attorneys or other estate administration attorneys. While this is not a full list, it covers the most frequent requests.
Personal Injury Attorney
First, it’s not unusual for a personal injury attorney to need the services of an estate planning or probate attorney. This could be in many forms, such as when a personal injury attorney is working with a disabled victim who may need his or her funds put into a Special Needs Trust or some other mechanism to keep them from getting too much money too soon or to prevent them from losing eligibility for government benefits.
Often when people are in an accident or are injured or are the victims of crimes they have ongoing disabilities that prevent them from being able to work and they often will receive government assistance such as supplemental security income (SSI) or Medicaid. These programs are means-tested, which means that they exist for people who don’t have the means to pay for the things these programs are meant to cover themselves. Accordingly, one must have less than a certain amount of assets to qualify for these programs.
Now, with the victim of a crime, someone who is injured, or someone who is in an auto accident, a lot of times the recovery that they receive is for suffering and things that occurred in the past and for future expenses that they can anticipate. So it doesn’t seem quite equitable to take someone who’s been the victim of an atrocious crime or injury and take away the government benefits that are meant to help them sustain while also forcing them to pay from their injury settlement all those costs – costs which are really meant for other things.
So, often a personal injury attorney will retain the services of an estate planning attorney to prepare a Special Needs Trust that conforms to the individual needs of the particular victim, and that attorney that is hired may have to appear in court and explain to the judge what it is that he or she has done. Even if there is not a disability, sometimes the victim is young and is not legally allowed to hold funds themself, so in that case the personal injury attorney would hire an estate planning attorney to draft a different type of trust, one that is meant to keep the child from getting money too soon in a way that would cause it to be spent frivolously but also making sure the child’s needs are met.
When our firm is hired to assist with preparing a trust for a victim, we work closely with the injury attorney to make sure that we construct an individualized trust around the needs and anticipated future needs of the person.
We provide competitive rates and transparent pricing that enable the injury attorney to plan accordingly. We also implement technology into our practice to make communication between the injury attorney and estate planning attorney streamlined.
While we have a strong work ethic and outstanding reviews from previous clients, the thing that we think helps us stand out the most with fellow attorneys is our responsiveness. We understand our counterparts on the litigation side of the case need to have their calls answered, emails returned, and access to information to complete their important work right then, and we treat that duty to respond quickly as being just as critical to the process as the actual legal work.
Second, sometimes attorneys need to either sue on behalf of an estate or deceased person or they need to sue the estate or deceased person. In those cases, they may want to retain the services of a probate attorney to open the estate so they can either represent the deceased person in court or sue the deceased person.
We routinely open estates to assist attorneys in all areas of litigation in filing actions on behalf or or against deceased individuals. We have reasonable rates for this service and years of experience making sure the estates are handled properly. We put a dedicated case manager in charge of the matter, so you will always have one contact to call or email who knows you and the case, and can promptly address your request.
Attorneys in Other States
Third, attorneys in other states may be trying to handle the estate of a deceased person residing in another state, but who had property in North Carolina. In those cases, the attorney may either hire or have their client hire a second lawyer, in North Carolina, to handle the ancillary administration of the estate.
One of the things that sets us apart in the estate administration process is that we do not let estates linger. We handle it as quickly and efficiently as the law and court system will permit. We understand that the attorney’s choice of who to work with in another state reflects on the attorney, and we want to make you look great for choosing us to help your client.
Fourth, attorneys may hire us to complete a facet of a larger plan. For example, an attorney may handle estate planning, but may not handle estate administration. Referring that case out may cause the attorney to lose future estate planning business from members of the family, since they are now associated with a new attorney.
In a case like that, the attorney can co-counsel with us, and we’ll make sure that the estate planning attorney handles client relations and we handle the labor of making sure the estate is administered correctly. Because of the relationship of sharing the work, we are permitted to share fees on estate administration cases, which can create another revenue source for an attorney wishing to offer services to his or her estate planning clients without having to implement an estate administration practice infrastructure.
Sometimes, we will also have business law attorneys who retain us to assist with aspects of the person’s estate plan, such as wills, trusts, or succession planning, which often goes hand in hand with matters the business law attorney is dealing with. We provide excellent service and fast turnaround times.