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  • Writer's pictureDenise Davis

All You Need to Know About Probate in NC

Updated: Feb 17

All You Need to Know About Probate

When you think of probate, think of it as a way in which the court distributes an estate to the rightful heirs. This is a legal process supervised by the court that gives someone, in most cases the surviving spouse or close family member, authority over the deceased’s assets, taxes, and pay debts.

North Carolina does not necessarily require probate after death. This will depend on what the deceased owned and the property value.

Every real estate owner is strongly advised to create a Will or a Living Trust. Even though that may sometimes feel a bit daunting, it helps make life occurrence a bit easier for your loved ones.

What is probate?

Probate is a court process for authenticating your Will and approving the Executor so that they can start distributing your property and belongings.

Probate requires that all your assets are identified and their total value revealed. All the applicable taxes and debts are then settled to get the final estate value to be distributed.

Probate can also happen in a situation where you do not have any Will and an Executor. Even though the process will still be completed, it is a bit more complicated. Since there are no documents that reveal your wishes, the courts would have to use their best judgment and make the decisions for you.

One thing you must remember is that each state has its way of handling probate. For instance, the North Carolina probate process is handled by the Clerk of the Superior Court.

How the probate process works

The probate process in North Carolina starts at the Clerk of Superior Court in the deceased’s county of residence. The rightful person makes an application to the clerk. This can be the executor/executrix named in the Will or if there is no Will, someone who qualifies to be an administrator.

There are some important documents that must be included in the application:

  • The Will if there is one

  • Certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate

  • Preliminary inventory of the estate

The executors and administrators are the estate’s personal representatives and they must take an oath of office stating that they will execute their mandate faithfully.

A court-appointed executor receives letters of testamentary while administrators get letters of administration. These documents are authoritative in regard to handling assets of the estate.

What you must carry in the first probate hearing

The following must be availed when conducting the first probate hearing:

  • Last Will (if any is available)

  • Certified copy of death certificate

  • Names and addresses of heirs

  • List of known creditors

Do I need legal services for probate?

Not everyone is well-versed in how probate works. That is why you may need probate lawyers or a probate tax professionals to assist with the process. The legal professionals understand existing probate laws in North Carolina that protect the family and loved ones’ assets.

Although getting a lawyer experienced in probate is highly advised there may be some people who prefer to file on their own without the assistance of an attorney. If this is you, I would suggest you read "How to file probate in North Carolina without a lawyer" to give you some ideas on getting started.

At NC Probate Solutions, we handle the non-legal side of probate and assist in selling the home when needed. Get in touch with me and I will be glad to help you out.

Denise Harper Davis

Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist

Licensed Realtor 252-902-9006

* NOTE: North Carolina Probate Solutions and the author of this article is not a licensed attorney or CPA. This post should not be considered legal or tax advice. Always consult an estate attorney or tax professional when needing legal answers and legal advice.

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