What Does A Resident Process Agent Do In Probate In NC
If you are the executor of an estate in North Carolina and you live out of state, you may need to appoint a resident process agent. It is very important that you and the person you chose to serve in the role as a resident process agent understand the probate process.
What is the Probate Process?
Probate is a court-supervised process for administering the estate of a decedent. During probate, the executor or administrator of the estate must arrange for payment of any debts and taxes, as well as distributing assets to beneficiaries
[Need help with probate? We offer helpful probate services and will work with you to find the plan that meets your needs. Learn more.]
What Is A Resident Process Agent
If you live out of state and may possibly face difficulty with frequently coming to North Carolina to handle probate matters, you may need to appoint a resident process agent to assist you.
A resident process agent is an individual who resides in North Carolina, who will receive and respond to legal documents on your behalf.
This appointed resident process agent must be approved by the probate court, and they are responsible for assisting with any legal matters associated with the estate.
Who Cannot Serve in The Role As A Resident Process Agent?
Generally, North Carolina allows most resident in the State to be appointed as a resident process agent, but there are some exceptions. Individuals living in North Carolina who will not qualify to serve as a resident process agent are indicated here. According to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-4-2 Persons disqualified to serve as personal representative:
No person is qualified to serve as a personal representative who:
(1) Is under 18 years of age;
(2) Has been adjudged incompetent in a formal proceeding and remains under such disability;
(3) Is a convicted felon, under the laws either of the United States or of any state or territory of the United States, or of the District of Columbia and whose citizenship has not been restored;
(4) Is a nonresident of this State who has not appointed a resident agent to accept service of process in all actions or proceedings with respect to the estate, and caused such appointment to be filed with the court; or who is a resident of this State who has, subsequent to appointment as a personal representative, moved from this State without appointing such process agent;
(5) Is a corporation not authorized to act as a personal representative in this State;
(6) Repealed by Session Laws 1999-133, s. 1.
(7) Has lost that person's rights as provided by Chapter 31A;
(8) Is illiterate;
(9) Is a person whom the clerk of superior court finds otherwise unsuitable; or
(10) Is a person who has renounced either expressly or by implication as provided in G.S. 28A-5-1 and 28A-5-2.
(11) Is a person who is employed by, acts as an agent for, serves as legal counsel for, or conducts business in any contractual capacity with a property finder, as defined in G.S. 116B-52
(11a), who has entered into an agreement subject to G.S. 116B-78 to locate the estate property defined by the agreement. (C.C.P., s. 457; Code, ss. 1377, 1378, 2162; Rev., s. 5; C.S., s. 8; 1973, c. 1329, s. 3; 1999-133, s. 1; 2011-344, s. 4; 2021-157, s. 2(a).)
Appoint a resident process agent you can trust
If you choose to appoint a resident process agent for your estate, it's important that you select someone who is reliable, trustworthy and does not fall into the category mentioned above.
It’s also important to make sure that the resident process agent you choose is familiar with the probate laws in North Carolina, as they will need to be able to deal with any legal matters related to the estate.
Having appointed a resident process agent who is knowledgeable with the probate process and who can be trusted, can help provide peace of mind while ensuring that your estate is taken care of in an efficient and professional manner.
Do the resident process agent have to be a family member?
No, resident process agents do not need to be family members. However, if it is a family member living in North Carolina, who you can trust, is reliable and responsible, and familiar with the probate process they just may be a good choice.
Although, it is usually the attorney who is working with the executor or administrator who acts in this role. You do not have to chose an attorney, but in most cases they are the ones assigned to the role.
How do I appoint a resident process agent?
In North Carolina you will use form AOC-E-500. On this form you will include the county the decedent lived in, and the decedent's name.
You will include the name and address of the chosen resident process agent, their phone number and the county they live in. The personal representor will also need to date, print and sign the form. The resident process agent will need to date, print and sign in front of a notary.
This form will need to be turned in to your attorney or to the Clerk of Superior Court in the county that the decedent lived. If the decedent lived out of State, then you may file it in the county where the assets are located.
Understand Your Role and Responsibilities
It is important for the executor or administrator to understand their role and responsibilities in probate. If things are not carried out correctly you could be legally and financially responsible. It's even more important that the person you chose to be the resident process agent understand their responsibilities so bad decisions can be avoided which would fall back on you if made.
I hope this information has helped you to have a better understanding of a resident process agent in North Carolina. If you find yourself having more questions about the probate process in North Carolina please feel free to contact me.
Denise Harper Davis Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist
* 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.
Learn More About Probate
What To Expect When Going Through The Probate Process In North Carolina