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  • Writer's pictureDenise Davis

When a Loved One Dies and You Become The Executor of The Estate

Updated: Apr 13

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Denise Knows Probate!

Executor of the estate

At North Carolina Probate Solutions, we understand that probate can be a complicated emotional process and our goal is to help make it easier for you.

Probate can take months before it actually comes to completion and if real estate is involved it is your responsibility as the executor to maintain the property during the probate period.

As the executor it is important to understand the probate process and your role. In this article we will cover these things so you will be able to confidently navigate the probate process.

Probate Definition

First, lets give the probate definition: When a person dies, and leaves behind assets or property, their estate must go through the probate process if it is over a certain value. During this time, any outstanding debts and taxes are paid off and valid heirs and beneficiaries are identified to receive whatever is left of the estate. The court will review all documents related to the deceased's estate and give the executor the authority to oversee distribution of assets according to North Carolina probate law.

When is probate necessary?

When the deceased individual had real estate or personal property located in North Carolina, probate may be required. Depending on the value of their assets and type of ownership, estates valued over a certain amount must go through probate. When a will is left by the deceased, it should be submitted to the clerk of superior court for approval before any distributions are made.

When a decedent (the person who died) does not have any assets, or if all of the assets are jointly owned with another individual, then probate is typically not required.

How much does an estate have to be worth to go through probate?

house made out of hundred dollar bills

•Smaller estates with probate-qualified assets valued at less than $20,000 can avoid the formal probate proceeding.

• If the surviving spouse inherits the whole estate, however, its value must not exceed $30,000 in order to avoid a formal probate process.

• So, assets that qualifies as a probate asset and the value is $20,000 or greater, or for surviving spouses $30,000 or greater, then the assets must go through probate before being distributed to family and friends.

• With this in mind, it is best not to distribute any assets until an inventory list along with the value has been created and the notice to creditor's period has been completed.

An executor or administrator will be assigned the task of creating the inventory list and properly distributing to creditors, taxes, heirs and beneficiaries what rightly belongs to them, along with managing many other task.

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.

Can an executor decide who gets what?

It is not the executor's job to decide who gets what. The executor is responsible for filing the necessary documents to open probate with the clerk of superior court in North Carolina.

This includes collecting important documents related to the deceased's assets, notifying creditors and heirs of the death, gathering information about debts owed by the estate and distributing any remaining assets according to state law or a will.

The executor also ensures that all taxes and fees are paid before the estate is closed.

Tax documents

The executor's responsibilities

If you are the executor or administrator here is a list of some of your responsibilities and please know that some counties in North Carolina may fine you each month if some of these things are not taken care of:

  • Getting vacant insurance on the property

  • Having the grass/weeds cut

  • raking up leaves and pine cones

  • boarding up windows

  • clearing out the house

  • getting boxes to package items

  • Selling and donating assets

  • Removing junk from the property

  • removal of abandoned vehicles

  • Keeping squatters out

  • animal adoption, if animals are living on property

  • responsible for repairs and maintenance

  • keeping the property reasonably safe

  • Paying taxes

  • paying mortgage, if applicable

  • and if you are planning on selling the property you will want to keep the utilities and water on until the property is sold. Therefore, you also will have an additional utility bill to pay each month.

It is also known that property that sits vacant for long period of time attracts crime. If this happens, it may make the home harder to sell for top-dollar.

So we can see that being an executor of an estate, that has real estate involve, carries a lot of responsibilities. These responsibilities are especially draining on someone who lives out of State or lives several miles away from the home.

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Don't Forget: Your Time Is Valuable! Make Sure You Have The Time To Commit To These Things. If Not, We Can Help You!

This is where North Carolina Probate Solutions step in and help ease the load.

We Will Be Your Eyes On The Property and Your Feet On The Ground!

We take care of the property for you. We will arrange to have the house clean and cleared out. We will arrange upkeep and maintenance of the yard, and have abandoned vehicles removed, if any. If windows and doors need to be boarded up, we can arrange it. We will arrange everything within our powers to keep squatters out and crime away.

We can arrange a home inspection so you will know the true condition of the home before putting on the market. If a contractor is needed to fix things we can arrange that too.

Our solutions team consist of top professionals in the area - estate sales professionals, inspectors, contractors, house clean-up crews, lawn maintenance and more to make sure the house gets the love it needs while it waits to be sold.

The Ultimate Goal

Girl winning track competition

The ultimate goal is to keep the house safe, keep it in the best condition as possible, place it on the market and get you the highest price for it - We handle all of this, while you get back to life.

Some executor may feel that their attorney is handling everything. In all actuality most attorney are only handling the legal side of things, such as legal paperwork.

We handle the non-legal side of probate and our wide range of services are designed to save you time, eliminate worry and remove the burden of caring for the property.

North Carolina Probate Solution's Team of Professionals

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Our Solution Team Consist of:

Estate Sale Coordination

If the home has furniture, clothes and all of the other typical things you would find in a home, our trained estate sales team will go in and appraise the items of value, organize them, prepare and price everything that's sellable.

The estate sale will be handled by agents who will set up and display the items for sale, rope off private areas, interact with the people who come to the sale, conduct the transactions, and provide security.


After the estate sale is complete there may be items still left from the sale. If the family does not want these things we can arrange for them to be donated to local donation sites.

Lawn Maintenance

It is important to keep the lawn maintained and cared for. In some counties in North Carolina they will actually fine you if you do not keep the lawn maintained.


It is a good idea to find out what is wrong with he house before actually placing it on the market. There may be some things that would be better to fix before placing it on the market or you may just decided to sell the house as is at a lower price. The things that have serious damage will need to be disclosed to future buyers though.


If you decide you want to have some things fixed first our team of experienced contractors can get the job done for you.

House Clean-up Service

Before placing any home on the market it is very important to get the house as clean as possible. Our house clean-up team will take care of this for you. After the house have been cleaned up the team will take pictures and forward them to you for your approval.

Once every thing has been done it is time to place the house on the market and that is where my expertise comes in.

Denise Davis, Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist/License Realtor logo and CPRES logo

When selling a home that has been included in probate it is very important to get a realtor who understands the probate process. There are some things that are handled differently than a traditional sale and making mistakes could cost you time and money.

One way that a traditional sale differs from a probate sale is that if the house has actually been pulled into probate, the clerk of superior court has to approve the offers made. So, although you may say yes to an offer that was made on the home, it is the judge who has the final say so on it.

While we are waiting on the judge to say "yay" or "nay", other offers can come in. There is also an up-bid period where someone can come in and offer a higher price than the last price. The up-bid period is usually 10 days. So although it sounds good getting higher offers it also delays the process some. To learn more about selling a house that has been included in probate you may want to read my article called "What is the NC special proceedings to sell real estate", because there are other things that happens when a house that is included in probate is sold in North Carolina.

What Price Should You Sell The House For?

houses of different sizes

Once the house is ready to be placed on the market your realtor will create a comparable market analysis (CMA) for you first. This report will compare similar homes close in distance that recently sold. This will give you an idea of the value of the decedent's home and what it may sell for.

Once you are set on the price, the next step is to look at the best ways to market the home to get future buyer's attention quickly.

As mentioned above, if an offer is made you do have to wait on the judge to give the "ok" to move forward. Now, this is only on homes that have been pulled into probate because the other assets did not have enough value to pay the creditors.

If the home is not included in the probate process, which in North Carolina it does not have to be included, the home can be sold the traditional route.

North Carolina Probate Solutions

North Carolina Probate Solutions is here to help you every step of the way through the probate process. Whether you are selling a home that was included in probate or not, we have the expertise you need to make sure the process goes smoothly.

We understand that this can be a difficult and emotional time for many people. We are here to help relieve some of the stress by bringing our knowledge, experience and expertise to the table.

Let us help you navigate through the probate process confidently and smoothly. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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.

Denise Harper Davis Certified Probate Real Estate Agent

Certified Probate Real 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.

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