ESTATE ADMINISTRATION AND PROBATE
The loss of a loved can be one of the most difficult situations you will ever face. Let us guide you through probate so you can spend less time worrying about deadlines and procedures and more time reflecting on your loved one and allowing yourself time to grieve. Please fill out our Estate intake form.
DOCUMENTS YOU WILL NEED:
Last Will and Testament
Letters of Testamentary or Administration
Wills, trusts, and end-of-life care documents can put you and your family at ease knowing that the hard decisions have been made. How we can help plan your future and ease the burden on your loved one:
- Last Will and Testatment
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- General Power of Attorney
- Advance Healthcare Directive/Living Will
1. What is probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. In general, the decedent’s assets are used first to pay the cost of the probate proceeding, then are used to pay the decedent’s funeral expenses, then the decedent’s outstanding debts, and the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
2. What is an Executor/Executrix?
The executor or executrix is the personal representative in charge of the administration of the decedent’s probate estate.
- The personal representative has a legal duty to administer the estate pursuant to North Carolina law. The personal representative must:
- Identify, gather, value and safeguard the decedent’s probate assets.
- Publish a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper in order to give notice to potential claimants to file claims in the manner required by law.
- Serve a “Notice of Administration” to provide information about the probate estate administration and notice of the procedures required to be followed by those having any objection to the administration of the decedent’s probate estate.
- Conduct a diligent search to locate “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors, and notify these creditors of the time by which their claims must be filed.
- Object to improper claims, and defend suits brought on such claims.
- Pay valid claims.
- File tax returns and pay any taxes properly due.
- Employ professionals to assist in the administration of the probate estate; for example, attorneys, certified public accountants, appraisers and investment advisers.
- Pay expenses of administering the probate estate.
- Pay statutory amounts to the decedent’s surviving spouse or family.
- Distribute probate assets to beneficiaries.
- Close the probate estate with final accounting.
3. How is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) involved?
The decedent’s death has two significant tax consequences: It ends the decedent’s last tax year for purposes of filing the decedent’s federal income tax return, and it establishes a new tax entity, the “estate.”
4. What if the Estate Isn’t Very Large?
Some estates with a value of less than $20,000 can be handled by way of small estate administration. In these instances, an affidavit is submitted by a Collector to deal with the assets and debts of the deceased.
5. How long does it take to get through the probate process?
In North Carolina, it takes a minimum of about four months because creditors of the estate have 90 days from the date of publication of the notice of probate to file claims against the estate.
However, it can easily take close to a year for even a small estate to make it through the probate process. As a general rule, the more valuable and complex the estate assets are, the longer it will take to make it through the probate process. Another factor that can impact the time it takes to get through probate is the choice of Executor. A competent Executor is able to move the estate through probate faster which is why it pays to choose wisely when appointing an Executor in your Last Will and Testament.
6. What if I need to look for the will in a safe deposit box?
Sometimes you need to look for the will in a safe deposit box, but not everyone has access to them. Only co-lessees, deputies, and people authorized by the Clerk of Superior Court can access it so if there is no co-lessee or deputy, additional action will need to be taken to access the box.
7. Where can I get copies of a death certificate?
The funeral home, the Register of Deeds in the county where the decedent died, or Vital Records in Raleigh.