In North Carolina, probate is the procedure of proving the will of the deceased is valid and distributing assets of the deceased. The estate of a decedent includes all the money and other properties the person owned before their death. Generally, the decedent’s estate must be distributed and managed according to their will. But if there is no will, the North Carolina intestacy statute determines how the deceased person’s property is distributed.
The Probate Process in North Carolina
The probate process starts with the court appointing a representative to manage the administration of the estate. This representative could be the personal representative named in the decedent’s will or someone qualified to be a personal representative.
To be named a personal representative, you must be named in the will or otherwise show you are qualified to be appointed as a personal representative.
Along with filing certain court documents, to open an estate in North Carolina, you must provide the court with the decedent’s will and a copy of the death certificate.
Upon authorization, you’ll be required to send notices to the decedent’s creditors and prepare an estate inventory that includes values and descriptions of the decedent’s assets. The Inventory is then submitted to the clerk of court. Any cash and liquidated property will then be deposited in an estate bank account to be used to settle funeral bills, expenses, taxes, and pay off debts.
Once all debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets will be distributed among the beneficiaries and heirs under the will or pursuant to North Carolina’s intestacy statute, if there is no will. The representative will then file an accounting for dispersed assets with the clerk’s office.
How Do You Avoid Probate?
In North Carolina, you can avoid probate by creating and funding a living trust. In this case, all the assets in the trust will be managed under the trust’s terms during your life and after your death. This prevents probate for any of your assets, including bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate properties because your assets are owned by your trust. To create a living trust, you must prepare a trust document and transfer ownership of the assets from yourself to your trust.
You can also avoid probate by naming beneficiaries on your accounts, including brokerage, retirement, and bank accounts.
There are other ways in which you can avoid probate. The first step is speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney who can guide you through each step of the estate planning process and ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Need a Wilmington Probate Attorney? Call Us Today
The estate administration process is long and tedious. Handling extensive documentation, applications, notices, filings, inventories, and estate distribution can be draining and time-consuming.
Rountree Losee assists executors, beneficiaries, heirs, trustees, and surviving spouses through the probate process. Contact our office today to speak with a Wilmington probate attorney.