The probate process in North Carolina may seem intimidating for those who are caught by surprise when a loved one’s death. Simply put, probate is the legal process that organizes and settles a person’s affairs, making sure all assets and debts are taken into account.

Here are three things to know about the probate process in North Carolina:

  1. When does an estate go to probate? An estate goes to probate when the deceased has sole ownership of property and no estate plan. It then falls on the courts to administer the estate.
  2. Who is in charge of the probate process? The Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the deceased resided is in charge of the process. The clerk will work with the deceased’s personal representative to make sure the estate is distributed properly.
  3. Is a lawyer needed? Legally, no. There needs to be a personal representative of the deceased. If the person has named an executor, that person would oversee probate proceedings. Otherwise, the family can choose a person to serve this role. However, many people find that enlisting the help of an estate lawyer is very beneficial to understanding the process.
  4. How long does it take? The length of the probate process depends on how large of an estate is in probate, whether the deceased had a current will in place, and the state of the estate.

The easiest way to avoid having an estate go through the probate process is to have a legal estate plan in place before death. When a loved one passes, the time immediately after is confusing and difficult. Having an estate plan in place can only help ease the uncertainty of the time. Let Thornton Law Firm help to prepare a will for you and your loved ones. Contact us for a consultation.