Wills and Probate

Experienced North Carolina trust and estates attorneys can draft your last will and testament

A will is essential at every stage of your life, providing you with the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes for what will happen upon your death. A will is necessary if you intend to leave property to someone who is not your blood relative — for example, a domestic partner, a friend or a charity. If you die without a will, it is the court that will determine how your property is distributed, who cares for your children and even what happens to your beloved pets — and the decisions that the court makes might not reflect your desires.

The wills and estates attorneys at Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. have more than 30 years of experience. They can assist by drafting a valid will to ensure that your intentions are honored.

Changing your will

As your life evolves, so might your estate plan. You might need to update your will throughout your life. Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. drafts valid codicils that address changes in your financial situation, marital status, parenthood status, philanthropic interests and general lifestyle decisions.

Appointing a guardian

Your will enables you to make decisions about the future care of your minor children. This is especially crucial if you are a single parent or in the event that both parents die in a common incident. If you have not named a
guardian for your children, the court appoints one, who may make parental decisions contrary to what you would have wanted. In your will, you can also make arrangements for the care of your pets, naming a guardian to take
responsibility for them.

Creating an optimal estate plan

Drafting an effective will requires more than filling in a form.If a court determines that your will is invalid, your desires will not be honored upon your death. The attorneys at Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. meticulously
draft your will and consider all aspects of your estate plan. We review your family arrangements, financial situation and philosophical goals to guide you in making the best estate planning decisions, and we draft your will accordingly.


Probate follows what is typically a painful emotional loss.The knowledgeable, meticulous probate attorneys at Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. have more than 30 years of experience in probate law. They know how to ease the
stress of probate by guiding executors and beneficiaries through the complexprocess.

The process of probate

Most executors have rarely, if ever, probated a will, and they know little about the process. Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. can guide you through the complex probate process, including:

  • Filing the will with the North 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

Our attorneys assist executors with the arduous process of collecting, managing, valuing, protecting and liquidating the assets of the estate. Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. 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. We can access expert opinions about unique assets such as antiques, rare books, automobiles, and other collectables for accurate valuation, management, and possible sale.

Probate disputes

Even in apparently straightforward estate cases, there are sometimes disputes between beneficiaries. Our attorneys’ professional courtroom presence can calm the emotionally charged process of probating a challenged will or a disputed executor or judicial decision. When it is in the best interests of our client to preserve cordial familial relationships, our attorneys are adept at mediating these disputes. When necessary, we assertively defend our client’s beneficiary rights within the North Carolina probate court.

Contact the thorough estate planning lawyers at Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A.

Spence, Berkau, McLamb, P.A. serves clients in Smithfield and throughout North Carolina. Call us at
919-934-1149 or contact us online.