Skilled Probate Attorney and Litigator in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Guiding you through the process of probate and settling disputes
Probate follows what is typically a painful emotional loss. The knowledgeable, meticulous probate attorneys at Michael P. Horger, LLC have 42 years of experience in probate law and know how to ease the stress of probate by guiding executors and beneficiaries through the complex process. Most executors have rarely if ever probated a will and know little about the process. I can guide you through all aspects of probate, including:
- Filing the will with the South Carolina probate court
- Developing the best strategy for fairly and expeditiously probating the estate
- Finding and collecting assets
- Closing and opening bank accounts
- Transferring assets from the deceased to the estate
- Paying estate taxes
- Valuing, managing, preserving and liquidating the estate
- Locating beneficiaries
- Hiring experts, when appropriate
Valuing and managing the estate
I assist executors with the arduous process of collecting, managing, valuing, protecting and liquidating the assets of the estate. Michael P. Horger, LLC has a team of experts available to assist in every aspect of estate probate. When appropriate, the firm calls upon accountants, financial advisors, real estate agents, property managers and other professionals to assist with executor duties. I can access expert opinions about unique assets such as antiques, rare books, automobiles and other collectables for accurate valuation, management and possible sale.
Even in apparently straightforward estate cases, there are sometimes disputes between beneficiaries. My professional courtroom presence can calm the emotionally-charged process of probating a challenged will or disputed executor or judicial decision. When it is in the best interests of my client to preserve cordial familial relationships, I am adept at mediating these disputes. When necessary, I assertively defend my client’s beneficiary rights within the South Carolina probate court.
At Michael P. Horger, LLC, I have represented aggrieved parties in probate cases for 42 years. I am ready to assist you in inheritance controversies arising from:
- Lack of capacity
- Undue influence
- Breach of fiduciary duty
Preventing exploitation of the elderly
Many probate disputes stem from suspicions that a particular individual took advantage of the declining health or dementia of the deceased to insinuate himself into the will to the detriment of the rightful heirs. I am familiar with such cases and know exactly what kind of evidence is necessary to make a showing of undue influence or lack of capacity. If a caretaker or family member manipulated an unfair change in the will, that change can be invalidated.
Demanding accountability and fairness
The individual chosen to be the personal representative of the estate or to hold power of attorney has a fiduciary duty to dispatch his obligations professionally and in accordance with the wishes of the testator. Any deliberate fraud or negligence in accounting for assets can and should be challenged in probate. I have vast experience dealing with estate matters and can form a quick and accurate appraisal of whether matters are being handled competently and honestly.
Don’t expect success if you handle objections yourself
Many beneficiaries hesitate to hire an attorney because they trust the probate court to do what is fair or wish to keep a family dispute within the family. However, there are things you should consider before attempting to handle a probate issue yourself. The court is not an investigative body. Just because you bring up an issue does not mean the judge is obligated to search for supporting evidence. You can present allegations, but without the firm basis a professional attorney can provide, your suspicions may receive little consideration. Moreover, a seasoned attorney who has been through probate negotiations before is likely to produce a settlement that satisfies all parties and allows the proceedings to move forward at less cost to the estate.
South Carolina Wills and Trusts Attorneys
Michael P. Horger provides advice and a variety of estate-planning services for individuals and closely held companies. When drafting a will or trust, I am sensitive to the impact my services will have on my client’s emotional and economic well-being. Michael P. Horger has the experience and resources to handle estate planning on behalf of those with large and complex estates, those with special situations, and those with modest estates.
When helping a client create a will or trust fund, I work to achieve a solution that will effectively protect that client’s interests to ensure his or her intentions will be carried out. I carefully listen, prepare and have extensive attention to detail. Contact me by e-mail or call (803) 531-1700 to speak with me.
Establish a Health Care Directive
Health care directives are also known as living wills. These documents describe how you would wish to be treated in certain medical situations. Living wills can discuss your plan for being kept alive via artificial means, or appoint someone to make that decision for you in the event you are incapacitated.
South Carolina Estate-Planning Services
I am prepared to assist local and out-of-state clients with a full range of estate-planning services, including:
- Preparation of wills, community property agreements and powers of attorney
- Drafting trusts, including testamentary trusts, trusts for minors, disability trusts, and living trusts
- Assigning guardianships
- Establishing a personal representative to pursue a wrongful death claim
- Business succession
- Probate and estate administration
- Probate litigation, including will contests and trust contests
I am also skilled probate litigators who will represent you with any probate law concerns in court.
If you do not have a large estate, you may be considering drafting your own will, health care directive or durable power of attorney. These are documents that every adult should have in place, but I urge you to reconsider creating them alone. I have seen sad situations where a document was missing essential elements, leaving the estate at risk. If you would like to discuss your estate-planning needs with me, please contact me.
Probate and Trust Litigation
Following a death in the family, it is not uncommon for heirs and/or beneficiaries to disagree about how probate is handled or how trusts are administered. The assets of the deceased often cause bitter family disputes. Other disputes related to probate and trusts involve businesses. Business co-owners and creditors often wish to assert their rights during the probate administration process.
Michael P. Horger, has extensive experience handling wills and other probate and trust litigation. I staff am prepared to represent your interests, regardless of your connection to the will or trust:
- A trustee
- The personal representative
- A creditor
- An heir or beneficiary
- A business partner of the deceased
- A church or other non-profit named in the will or with an interest in a trust