After the death of a loved one, estate administration or probate is likely to occur. Estate Administration is a legal process used to manage and distribute a deceased person’s assets. The process involves numerous procedures to inventory the deceased’s assets, notify creditors, pay existing debts and distribute the assets per the terms of the will, or pursuant to North Carolina Statutes, if you die without a will.

Understanding North Carolina estate administration can help executors prepare for the steps involved once they assume responsibility of managing the estate of the deceased.

What is the North Carolina Probate Timeline?

North Carolina statutes require an estate administrator, or executor, to conduct specific tasks after a specified duration. Here are the timelines to adhere to during the estate administration process.

  • First 60 days after the date of death: You must file the required paperwork to become an executor within 60 days after the decedent’s death. This should be a straightforward process, particularly if the decedent named you as the executor in the will.

If the deceased died with no will, then you will need to get approval from the beneficiaries and others who can qualify as the executor to become qualified as executor of the estate. 

You will need to obtain the will, if one exists,  and a death certificate within the 60-day duration. After that, consider meeting the clerk of court in the estates division to open the deceased’s estate.

  • First 30 days after appointing an executor: Once you become the executor of the estate, you must complete a few tasks within 30 days. They include:
  • Publish a Notice to Creditors and notify everyone with claims on the decedent to file a claim with you within 90 days after publishing the notice.
  • Begin Inventorying the assets of the deceased
  • Give notice to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security about the death of the decedent
  • Discuss the decedent’s tax returns with a tax advisor
  • Establish an estate checking account
  • Close the decedent’s accounts and transfer decedent’s money to the estate checking account.  If there are investments, then the investment company may open an estate account for those specific investments.
  • First 90 days after being appointed an executor: You also need to ensure that you complete these tasks within 90 days after you are appointed the executor:
  • Reject or accept any claims against the estate
  • File an inventory of decedent’s assets
  • File an affidavit of Notice to Creditor and a 90-day inventory
  • First 9 months after executor appointment: During this period, you will need to file an estate tax return and pay off the decedent’s debts.  If the decedent’s estate is not valued between $6million and $24million (if married), then an estate tax return may not be required. 
  • To pay the creditors of the estate, the Executor can use estate assets to settle the debts of the deceased.  Furthermore, an Executor has the ability to sell estate assets to settle the debts of the deceased.  
  • A year after the decedent’s death: You need to file an accounting with the Clerk of Superior Court  for every year the estate is open. To complete your duties as an executor, you must distribute the remaining estate assets to the beneficiaries and submit a  final accounting to the Clerk of Superior Court.

How Our Wilmington Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help

Having a Wilmington estate attorney by your side is a great way to ensure you meet these timelines. At Rountree Losee, we go the extra mile to provide our clients with what they need to manage and distribute their loved one’s assets.
If you are an executor or are preparing to take up estate responsibilities in North Carolina, we can offer the legal assistance you need. Contact us to speak with one of our Wilmington estate planning attorneys.