North Carolina Personal Estate Probate Law

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    Probate Procedure

    • The executor named in the decedent's will must take the original will and a certified copy of the death certificate to the probate division of the Superior Court in the county in which the decedent resided. If the decedent died intestate, a family member should make an application with the court for estate administration. The Estates Division of the county probate court appoints the executor, also known as a personal representative, to handle estate affairs. It also appoints an administrator, acting as a personal representative, in cases of intestacy. The personal representative must be sworn in and may be required to post a bond for protection of the estate from improper administration or fraud.


    • The personal representative must supply the court with a complete inventory of the decedent's assets, including real property and any personal property, including bank and brokerage account numbers and the assets in sole, jointly-titled and payable-on-death accounts. Although jointly-titled and payable-on-death accounts generally do not pass through the probate process, North Carolina law requires such information for probate records. The personal representative must include the fair market value of the assets as of the date of the decedent's death. The personal representative must also give the court the names and addresses of any beneficiaries designated in the will, or the next of kin in cases of intestacy.


    • The court's Estate Division must receive an annual accounting from the personal representative, including all estate property received and distributed. The Estate Division audits all accounting. Personal representatives must include any and all bank statements, cancelled checks, receipts, payment vouchers and estate tax information.

    North Carolina Intestate Succession

    • If the decedent dies intestate, the estate passes to heirs based on North Carolina's laws of intestate succession, based on marital and blood relationships. North Carolina also separates the estate into real estate and all other personal property. For real estate, if the decedent is married and survived by one child or any lineal descendant of one deceased child, the spouse and that child share half of the interest in any real estate. If the decedent has a surviving spouse and additional children or grandchildren from a deceased child, the spouse receives half of the real estate and the remaining heirs divide their half by the number of beneficiaries. For personal property, the spouse receives $30,000 as well as half of all property, including bank and brokerage accounts, with the children dividing the other half of the personal property. If there are no children, the spouse inherits all real estate and personal property. If the decedent was unmarried and childless, the estate passes to surviving parents.

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