It is important to know how probate works in North Carolina because it is not always mandatory but must be complied with when it is. This process helps the court distribute property after a person’s passing. On your own, it can be hard to determine when probate is required and how it affects anything you might inherit.
In This Article
What is Probate?
When you lose a loved one, the probate process gives the appointed parties the right to catalog a decedent’s estate and distribute their real and personal properties per their instructions.
Sometimes, a loved one passes away without having created a last will and testament or an estate plan. When that happens, they pass away intestate. In this case, the state would make decisions based on its intestate succession laws and formula. It then decides who distributes the decedent’s property. They can say who receives your loved one’s property and in what percentages and amounts.
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Our Probate Lawyers Can Help You Navigate the Probate Process
Probate law in North Carolina can be complex. It can be even more daunting when you are also trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. A probate lawyer familiar with these matters can help you avoid the time-consuming headaches of probate court.
A lawyer serving your area can:
- Explain the step-by-step probate process
- Compile and organize relevant documents
- Conduct a search for a decedent’s will
- Determine a will’s validity if one is uncovered
- Determine the value of the decedent’s estate
You do not have to go through the probate process on your own. Your attorney can help you understand what is ahead as well as how the state divides and distributes real and personal property and assets in intestacy cases. We can walk you through North Carolina inheritance laws and how they will affect your finances.
Simplified Summary Probate Can Streamline Matters
According to G.S. § 28A-28-1, summary probate—a simplified probate procedure—can streamline and ease the time-consuming and often tedious probate process. This simplified procedure could occur when the sole survivor of a decedent is a spouse.
Your probate attorney can help you file a petition with the court that establishes your relationship to the decedent. They will file the required certification with the local clerk of the court where the decedent resided prior to their passing. Once accepted and approved, the surviving spouse will be awarded possession of the decedent’s real and personal property.
Intestacy Succession in North Carolina
When a loved one is intestate after their demise, the state decides what happens to their possessions. Because no one can know the decedent’s final wishes if they were not contained in a final will and testament, the state takes a formulaic approach to the distribution of the assets.
The state’s intestacy formula imposed by G.S. § Chapter 29, Article 2 takes familial relationships into account as follows. If the decedent had:
- Children but no spouse, the children inherit all
- A spouse but no descendants or parents, the spouse inherits all
- A spouse and one child or their descendants, the spouse receives half of the decedent’s assets, and the child is awarded the remaining half (if assets exceed $60,000, the spouse receives the initial $60,000 first)
- A spouse and two or more children or their descendants, the spouse receives one-third of the assets to the spouse and the remaining two-thirds to the children (if assets exceed $60,000, the spouse receives the initial $60,000 first)
- A spouse and parents, each is awarded half (if assets exceed $100,000 the spouse is awarded this amount first
- Parents but no spouse or descendants, the parents inherit all
- Siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents, siblings inherit all
Intestacy succession is complex, but a lawyer who is familiar with the state’s intestacy laws can help you understand how property is divided and what you can expect.
Your Lawyer Can Help Alleviate the Stress of Probate
Probate is a stressful and emotional process. It can cause squabbles and disagreements between family members. A probate lawyer can help by providing legal support, which can mean your family:
- Endures less stress and strain
- Understands intestacy succession
- Gets answers to probate questions
If your loved one died intestate, your lawyer could bring clarity to probate. If your loved one left a will, we could ensure their final wishes are carried out. This, alone, can provide family members with certainty and peace of mind.
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Review Your Case With Our Probate Team Now
When you trust our estate planning and probate litigation team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, we carefully explain how probate works in North Carolina. We also make sure you understand the probate court process and represent you in any probate court proceedings.
You do not have to go through the probate process on your own when you contact one of our probate team members to get started today. We are ready to answer your questions today.