Greg Parker joined the firm in February of 2016. Parker brings with him new service offerings for our clients including estates, wills and trusts. The Law Office of Jerry Reardon is pleased to now offer all of the following services. Please contact us today to speak with an experienced attorney. 803-602-5242.
- Estate Administration
When a loved one passes away, it is difficult to take on the responsibility of overseeing and navigating the probate process, referred to as estate administration. The main purpose of estate administration is to properly transfer the assets of the decedent to the heirs or, if there is a will, to the devisees. At the Law Office of Jerry Reardon, we help families through this challenging time. The process often includes many steps and hurdles, such as: admitting a will to probate, appointing a personal representative, completing the mandated probate forms, compiling and reporting assets, preparing accountings, determining whether to allow or disallow creditor claims, properly distributing assets, and communicating with your CPA regarding any tax issues or requirements. Our goal is to simplify this process by walking you through each step during this emotional time in your life.
- Estate Litigation
Following the death of a loved one, disputes often arise over a number of issues which are often litigated. At the Law Office of Jerry Reardon, we are qualified and committed to resolving these litigated estate issues. These issues may include:
- Will Contest (validity) and Will Construction (interpretation)
Do you believe the decedent’s Will is not valid? Did the decedent have capacity issues? Were they influenced by another person at the time the Will was executed? Is the Will confusing or was it drafted in a way that could be interpreted in multiple ways? These issues are referred to as a Will Contest (validity) and Will Construction (interpretation). Once a Will is presented to the Court, you have a limited time to bring an action. We represent individuals on both sides of these actions. The sooner you contact the Law Office of Jerry Reardon, the sooner we can begin gathering evidence to defend or challenge a Will.
- Common Law Spouse
Did you consider yourself the spouse of a decedent but you never “officially” applied for and received a marriage license? Did the decedent die without a Will? Are the children or other heirs of the decedent attempting to exclude you from the probate process? We represent individuals asserting a common law spouse claim and families defending claims asserted by alleged common law spouses. If you are considering a common law spouse claim, do not delay as there is a limited time period to assert a claim.
- Elective Share, Omitted Spouse, Pretermitted Child Claims
If you have been left out of your spouse’s Will, you may be able to assert an elective share claim to receive a share of your spouse’s Estate. If you married your spouse after the execution of your spouse’s Will, you may have a claim for an omitted spouse’s share. Are you a child that has been left out of your parent’s Will? Were you born or adopted after the execution of your parent’s Will? If so, you may have a claim for a pretermitted child’s claim. You have a limited time period to assert these claims. Contact the Law Office of Jerry Reardon so we can begin determining whether you have a valid claim.
- Determination of Heirs
Has more than ten (10) years passed since the Decedent died and you need a determination of heirs? Depending on the facts, Probate Courts are limited as to whether they can consider a Will or appoint a Personal Representative once more than ten (10) years has passed since the date of death. You may still have the ability to have the Court issue an Order Determining Heirs, but it requires filing an action and presenting evidence. At the Law Office of Jerry Reardon, we can assist with these cases.
- Creditor Claims
Are you a creditor that is owed money from a decedent? Asserting a claim against an estate and prosecuting that claim can be a time sensitive and tricky endeavor. In the alternative, are you a Personal Representative tasked with determining how to handle a claim? We represent creditors and Personal Representatives to litigate and resolve these issues.
- Actions Against a Personal Representative
Do you believe a Personal Representative is not fairly or properly administering an estate? Are items missing from the Inventory and Appraisement? Are you requesting information and not receiving timely responses? Has the Personal Representative distributed or proposed to distribute assets in an improper manner? We represent heirs in actions against Personal Representatives to protect the heirs’ rights; hold the Personal Representative accountable; and ensure the estate is administered the way the decedent intended. These actions may include removal of a Personal Representative, an action for the Personal Representative to account for all assets, a demand for a hearing to have the Court decide on a number of other potential issues.
- Limitation/Termination of Parent’s Share
Has a child died unexpectedly due to the negligence of another? Is the child’s estate expected to receive proceeds as a result of litigation? Do you believe the child’s other parent’s share of the estate should be limited? When children pass away, the parents are often the child’s heirs. If one parent has failed to provide support or had limited involvement in the child’s life, you may be able to assert an action to limit or terminate the uninvolved parent’s share of the child’s estate.
- Trust Litigation
Trusts are common vehicles that estate planning attorneys use to achieve a client’s goals, such as avoiding probate (estate administration), privacy, caring for a disabled/minor child or other beneficiary, protecting assets, etc. However, disputes over the administration, purpose, and appropriateness of the Trust are not uncommon. At the Law Office of Jerry Reardon, we represent beneficiaries and Trustees with asserting or defending claims. The more common litigated issues are:
- Actions Against Trustees
If you believe a Trustee is not properly administering a Trust, an action against a Trustee may be appropriate to hold the Trustee accountable and/or to remove the Trustee. Trustees have a number of duties that are addressed in the actual Trust document and provided by the South Carolina Trust Code. Whether the Trustee is an individual or a corporation, we can assert and protect your rights as a beneficiary if you believe the Trustee has breached a duty owed to you. We also represent Trustees in defending actions or in asserting actions the Trust may have against third parties.
- Trust Termination/Modification
Due to a change in circumstances or a number of other reasons, it may be appropriate to consider terminating or modifying a Trust. These can be complicated actions depending on the type of Trust and the terms of the Trust, and may require an action for Court approval.
- Power of Attorney Litigation
Power of Attorney documents are important documents that allow a person (referred to as the “principal”) to nominate and give direction to an agent regarding healthcare and financial decision-making. However, disputes often arise between family members and other interested parties regarding decisions the agent makes or fails to make.
- Validity of Documents
Similar to executing a Will, there are certain requirements that must be met regarding the principal’s capacity and the execution of the power of attorney document. If you believe a family member was coerced or tricked into signing a power of attorney document, contact us to see if we can help with challenging and revoking the document.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
Individuals or entities nominated to serve as an agent under a Healthcare Power of Attorney document are tasked with making healthcare and placement decisions for the principal (usually when the principal does not have sufficient capacity to make her own decisions). Often times, family members do not agree on healthcare or placement decisions for their loved one. It may be appropriate to have the agent removed or to have the Court provide oversight on decision-making. At the Law Office of Jerry Reardon, we can assist with resolving these issues.
- Financial Power of Attorney
Individuals or entities nominated to serve as an agent under a Financial Power of Attorney document (often called a Durable Power of Attorney) are tasked with making financial and business decisions. These documents have different requirements and more flexibility regarding the terms of the document than the Healthcare Power of Attorney. Issues often arise regarding the management of assets by the agent. It may be appropriate to file an action to remove the agent or have the agent account for the assets under the agent’s control. We represent principals, agents, and other interested parties in asserting and defending actions regarding Power of Attorney documents.
For incapacitated adults that do not have Healthcare Power of Attorney documents or if there is an issue/dispute with the Healthcare Power of Attorney document, a Guardian may be needed to make healthcare and placement decisions for the incapacitated person. A Guardian must be qualified to serve and is appointed by the Probate Court. We handle both contested and uncontested Guardianship cases.
If a Guardianship is already established, we also represent family members and interested parties in challenging decisions made by the Guardian, including removal actions, requests for access to the incapacitated person, and request for communication and information from the Guardian regarding the incapacitated person.
- Conservatorship (Minor and Adult)
If a minor is entitled to receive proceeds in excess of $10,000, a Conservator will likely need to be appointed. This is a formal action through the Probate Court. We represent parents and interested parties in assisting with the appointment of Conservators for minors.
If an incapacitated adult does not have a Financial Power of Attorney document or if there is an issue/dispute with the Financial Power of Attorney document, a Conservator may be needed to make financial and business decisions for the incapacitated person. A Conservator must be qualified to serve and is appointed by the Probate Court. The Conservator must file routine accountings with the Probate Court. We handle both contested and uncontested Conservatorship cases.
If a Conservatorship is already established, we also represent family members and interested parties in challenging decisions made by the Conservator, including removal actions and accounting actions.
If only a Conservator with limited powers (Special Conservator) or other limited transaction proceedings are necessary (Protective Proceeding), we can assist with these matters as well.
- Guardian ad Litem
Greg Parker frequently serves as Guardian ad Litem in probate court matters, including estate, guardianship and conservatorship cases. If you need a Guardian ad Litem to represent a minor or incapacitated person in your probate case, contact the Law Office of Jerry Reardon.
- Estate Planning
Estate planning is a phrase used to describe the process of setting goals and coming up with a strategy to make sure that a client’s wishes are met in the event of incapacity or death. The conversation often includes the management, protection, and transfer of their assets, which may include vehicles and tools such as Wills, Trusts,
- Healthcare Power of Attorney, Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney and Living Will
People regularly contact us and state that they need “just a Will.” What they do not realize is that “just a Will” may not be sufficient if assets (houses, cars, bank accounts, etc.) are not titled correctly or if they have other goals and concerns that “just a Will” may not address.
Planning for incapacity can be just as important as planning for death. It is much more efficient to spend the money now to make sure a plan is in place with Power of Attorney documents and a Living Will, than to have your family involved in an expensive Court action if you become incapacitated and decisions must be made on your behalf.
Once you go through the process you will have the peace of mind that all of your hard-earned assets will be managed, protected, and transferred properly and based on your wishes.
To begin the process, call the Law Office of Jerry Reardon and request an appointment. We will send you an initial packet that you will need to complete and return prior to your first appointment.