Asked in Estate Planning for North Carolina

Q: Grandmother died in NC. I currently live in Ontario, Canada -- was told can't act as Exec. of will from here. True?

Lawyer in charge of family trust in NC wants me to sign a Renunciation of Right to Qualify for Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration renouncing my right to administor my grandmother's estate as her chosen Executor and appoint him as administor of estate because he states as I am living out of the country, regardless I have always been US Citizen, I cannot legally do so because I do not currently live in NC. Also, eventhough I had physically taken my grandmother to his office several times and know he was aware of my address and phone numbers, the lawyer had himself listed as my grandmother's Emergency Contact at nursing facility where she died, did not alert me he was doing so, and did not inform me when she died. I found out over a month later.

Should I sign Renunciation?

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1 Lawyer Answer
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Cary, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: It does not matter if you are a US citizen or not. What matters is where you are living. If you are not living in the US then you will not be able to administer an estate as the executor. Non-resident agents can serve but you would have to appoint a resident agent in NC and no attorney is going to want to be your registered agent.

I don't understand what the fuss is. The personal representative's job is to find out what assets your grandmother owned, what debts she owed, pay her just debts and then distribute what is left to the beneficiaries named in the will. All you would be giving up is the right to do that; you are not giving up any inheritance by renouncing.

However, I am somewhat concerned regarding the attorney. I don't understand exactly why the attorney was your grandmother's emergency contact or how he could have even done this without your grandmother's consent unless there was some kind of longstanding relationship and there was no one else in the area. I am also concerned that you are not really the best person to be handling affairs and the comments in your post raise more questions.

However, the executor of the estate is in charge of hiring and firing the estate attorney in charge of probating the estate. So I don't know why you could not select another attorney in NC to administer the probate estate. You would still have to renounce but there are reputable attorneys who would be willing to fairly administer the estate.

You also mention a trust. A trustee is in charge of a trust, not an executor. If there is a trust, then there should be very little assets to even probate and your grandmother's property would be distributed as per the trust. The trustee can be removed, but only if he or she is not doing the job properly and administering the trust as per its terms. If the attorney is the trustee, the facts you cite does not mean that the attorney is not following the trust and are irrelevant.

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