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  • Writer's pictureDenise Davis

Can You Avoid Probate in North Carolina?

Updated: May 7

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Denise Knows Probate!

Can You Avoid Probate in North Carolina?

Hallmarked by being potentially expensive and lengthy, probate is a process that many families of a deceased loved one experience. The probate process, while daunting, may be able to be avoided in the state of North Carolina.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s estate through the court system. When a person dies, the court will be the governing body. If the person who passed away has left a will, then the distribution of their assets will be under their terms. However, even with a will if the decedent's had assets in his name alone these things will still have to go through probate before being distributed to heirs and beneficiaries.

However, if a person dies intestate, or without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of assets based on guidelines put forth by the state of North Carolina.

[Need help with probate? Join our Private Facebook group where you can ask questions and get answers, learn from others or share what you learned about the probate process. Be the first to join our new group! Join Here.]

Which assets don't have to pass through probate?

Living trust and estate planning documents

Some assets do not have to pass through the probate process in order to be transferred to the beneficiary. In general, the following assets do not pass through probate:

● Property that is within a living trust.

● Life insurance proceeds.

Payable-on-death bank accounts.

● Joint bank accounts that have a right of survivorship.

● Securities that are held in a transfer-on-death account.

● Property owned in joint tenancy.

● Funds in an IRA, 401K, or retirement account.

How to Avoid Probate in North Carolina

After a person has died, the probate court will ensure that assets are distributed legally to the appropriate individuals. The probate process, which could be expensive and time-consuming, can be emotionally taxing for families and loved ones who are grieving. Speaking with an experienced lawyer in North Carolina can help you understand the intricacies of probate, as well as assess your own unique situation to determine if avoiding probate is a possibility. Some ways you may be able to avoid probate are listed below.

Joint with Right of Survivorship

Joint ownership, which is common among married couples, provides a relatively simple way for retitling assets. However, property and assets would need to be owned with the right of survivorship designation. Assets that are typically joint-owned may include bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate.


Control of your property can be transferred to a trust, which is a separate entity. Certain property can be placed within the trust, such as bank accounts and real estate. Once you pass away, the trust will be given to the individual you named as the trust successor. The trust successor will then distribute the property based on your wishes and in compliance with state guidelines.

Payable-on-Death Designation

A payable-on-death designation grants all the money in your bank account to the beneficiary you have named following your death. The beneficiary that has been named will not have any control over the money until you pass away.

Consult a Probate Professional in North Carolina

The probate process can be costly and time-consuming, as well as create an additional hurdle for grieving families. However, avoiding probate can be complicated and require the knowledge of a probate specialist to navigate the process with minimal disruptions.

Consulting a probate professional in North Carolina can help you assess your own unique circumstances to determine if you will be able to avoid probate.

If you find yourself having any additional questions or need assistance with putting your inherited home on the market to sell, feel free to reach out to us. We would be happy to share our expertise with you.

Join our Private Facebook group where you can ask questions and get answers, learn from others or share what you learned about the probate process. Be the first to join our new group! Join Here.

Denise Harper Davis Certified Probate Real Estate Agent

Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist

Licensed Realtor


* 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.

To Learn more about the probate process

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