When a person dies in North Carolina, their estate undergoes a legal proceeding known as probate. Its function is twofold:
- It establishes the validity of a will.
- In the absence of a valid will, the court appoints a personal representative (usually a family member) who manages the estate’s administration adhering to North Carolina’s probate laws.
If your loved one has passed away, you may find yourself navigating the ins and outs of the probate proceedings during a highly emotional time. Know that you do not have to go through the complex probate process alone. A Spindale probate lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help you with all probate and estate administration matters from start to finish.
How Can a Spindale Probate Attorney Help?
The probate process is an amalgamation of many moving parts which can overwhelm you, especially if you do not have prior estate administration experience.
A nc probate lawyer can oversee tasks such as:
- Taking an inventory of the deceased’s entire assets
- Publishing notices to the creditors
- Filling out all the probate-related paperwork and sending them within the deadline
- Managing any unresolved estate or inheritance and income tax issues
- Setting up bank accounts to pay off any bills and debts
- Managing any active claims against the estate
- Distributing assets to the heirs according to the will or North Carolina’s probate laws
A probate attorney at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, has experience with probating estates of all sizes within and around Spindale. We can help you with the above-mentioned processes and more and ease the burden of probate and estate administration off you and your family.
The Probate Process in Spindale, North Carolina
North Carolina is one of the few states that follows a simplified probate process. If the deceased had a will, they have named a person as the executor of the will who will be responsible for probating the estate.
If there is no will, the court will appoint someone as the administrator of the estate. The following are some of the duties of the executor or the administrator:
- Identifying and assembling all the assets of the estate
- Notifying the creditors about the death of the deceased and addressing any claims filed by the creditors
- Ensuring all federal and state gift and estate taxes are paid
- Ensuring the assets are transferred to the beneficiaries according to the law
To begin the estate administration process, you will need to obtain:
- Decedent’s will
- Certified death certificate
- A rough list of the decedent’s assets
- The relevant forms which can be found here
- $120 filing fee
Spindale residents will then have to contact the clerk of court in Rutherford County to start the administration of the estate.
You May Qualify for Shortened Probate
North Carolina offers two abbreviated probate processes:
- Collection by Affidavit: If the net value of the decedent’s personal property does not exceed $20,000 (or $30,000 if the surviving spouse is entitled to the entire estate), then a small estate proceeding can be used. In this, the inheritor of the property must submit a short application that can be obtained from the Clerk of Superior Court. Once the affidavit is signed under oath, the person filing the affidavit may proceed with the collection and administration of the deceased’s assets and payment of debts and claims against the estate.
Once the administration is complete, the person must submit a closing affidavit that details the collection and distribution of the property within 90 days of filing for an affidavit.
- Summary administration: If the deceased’s spouse inherits everything, they can file a petition with the Clerk of Superior Court. A summary administration order will allow the spouse to collect and distribute the property without having to go through the regular full administration. This option is not available if the property is in a trust, according to NC Statute § 28A-28-1.
How Long does the Probate Process Take?
The probate process’s timeline will differ based on the estate’s size and the personal representative’s familiarity with the assets. The larger the estate, the more time it will take to settle.
Typically, expect the probate process to take between six months to a year due to publishing a legal notice of the person’s death and creditors having 90 days to submit a claim.
If there are disputes that arise, the resolution can add more time to the process. Also, if the executor or the personal administrator misses deadlines for different tasks, the process can be further delayed.
Not All Assets Need to Go Through Probate Court
Probate is only necessary for assets that are solely under the deceased’s name. This could include a bank account, a house, a car, or jewelry fully under the name of the decedent.
Assets in a revocable trust, part of joint tenancy, survivorship community property, or tenancy by the entirety are exempted from probate. Life insurance and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and securities and accounts with transfer-on-death (TOD) and payable-on-death (POD) clauses can also bypass probate.
An attorney can evaluate the estate and help you find the assets that are exempted from probate court.
Seek Legal Assistance from a Spindale Probate Attorney
Losing a loved one is never easy. In a time when you are grieving and sorting through emotional and mental trauma, properly handling estate-related legal proceedings can be tough.
If you are appointed as the executor or personal representative of a decedent’s estate, our probate attorney can work with you through the entire probate process and ensure all taxes and debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed according to the will or the North Carolina inheritance law.
We will make sure all the relevant forms are completed and filed within the deadlines so you and your family can receive the assets as soon as possible. Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC right away at (828) 286-3866 to get started with a free consultation.