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  • Writer's pictureDenise Davis

How to Avoid Probate in North Carolina

Updated: Feb 11

Do you need to know how to avoid probate in North Carolina? As a probate executor, administrator, or personal representative appointed by the court, it is important that you have an understanding of the options available for transferring assets upon death. Probate can be tedious and time consuming but it may not always be necessary. With the right knowledge and documents in place, avoiding probate could potentially save these representatives considerable time and money.

Read on to discover more about estate planning strategies that provide new ways of making sure that your client’s wishes are honored while saving them from costly and lengthy probate proceedings.

[Need help with probate? We offer helpful probate services and will work with you to find the plan that meets your needs. Learn more.]

Ways to Avoid Probate in North Carolina

So, how exactly do you protect your beneficiaries from undergoing the probate process in North Carolina after your death? Well, keep on reading to find out.

1. Always Name a Beneficiary to All Your Accounts

Most accounts especially retirement and life insurance accounts give you the chance to name a beneficiary. In such a case, your assets or the funds in your account are fully paid to the beneficiary without the involvement of the court.

More importantly, since such funds are not considered part of your estate, they do not have to go through the probate process.

Other financial accounts, such as brokerage accounts and stocks, have a ‘transfer on death’ clause. The ownership of the account is simply transferred to the designated beneficiary. And since the transfer occurs upon death, these assets do not have to go to probate.

2. Joint Ownership

When you jointly own property with someone else (your spouse), maybe, the ownership includes the right of survivorship. In that, if one owner dies, the ownership of the property is automatically transferred to the other surviving owner.

In such a case, there will be no need to go through a probate process for the transfer of ownership of the property to occur. However, there will be some paperwork to show the property is solely held by the surviving owner.

Essentially, North Carolina laws avails two types of joint ownership, including;

Joint Tenancy: When one of the joint tenants dies, the property is automatically passed on to the surviving owner. There’s no need for probate. This kind of joint ownership works well, especially when couples acquire vehicles, real estate, bank accounts or other valuable assets together.

Tenancy by the Entirety: It’s another form of joint ownership available for residents in North Carolina. While it’s very much like joint tenancy, it’s only allowed for married couples. Also, tenancy by the entirety in North Carolina only applies to real estate.

3. Living a Trust

Another effective way to avoid probate in North Carolina is by creating a trust. This works for almost all assets you own.

It could be your vehicles, bank accounts, real estate among other valuable assets. Under a living trust, your assets automatically become owned by the trust.

More importantly, since it’s a living trust, you will continue to enjoy and use those assets. Your assets will only be transferred to your trustees after your death.

The best part is that everything will be done according to the specific terms you wrote down in the trust. And even better, your assets and beneficiaries won’t have to go through the probate process.

Don’t Know Where to Start? Let’s Talk

Well, there you have it! The above tips will help you avoid the probate process in North Carolina. But it’s not as easy as it sounds for everyone.

Sometimes, we all need someone to help us through the process, and that’s okay. So, if you don’t know where to start, have questions, or just need a probate real estate agent to consult with during this process, I can provide additional guidance. So, don’t hesitate to give me a call today!

Denise Harper Davis

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, guidance or advice.

To learn more about the probate process

In NC why do you have to go through probate if there is a will?

6 facts about the Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property in NC

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