Getting through the loss of a loved one is emotionally and mentally taxing. After a personal loss, it can be hard to manage many situations, especially legal ones. Hiring a probate lawyer can help you and your family address complex legal matters while you’re grieving. 

Mother and daughter working through probate process of loved one

As you begin the probate process and find a probate attorney, it helps to understand how the probate and estate administration process works. In this blog, the Carolina Family Estate Planning team explains common legal terms and provides an overview of the North Carolina probate and estate process.

At Carolina Family Estate Planning, we will help you keep your ducks in a row. Read on for more information, and then reach out to us today at 919-443-3035. We’re here to help!

What Does “Probate” Mean?

In estate administration, the word “probate” generally refers to one of two things: probating the will or the probate process.

Probating the will is the process through which a court determines the legal validity of a person’s purported final will and testament.

The probate process is another term for “estate administration,” which refers to handling a person’s assets or property after they have passed. 

Other Key Terms

A will or last will and testament is a tool for specifying who inherits a person’s assets or property after that person’s death.

Decedent refers to the person who has passed. Estate describes all money or property that the decedent owned at the time of their passing.

About Estate Administration

Unless the person who died established alternatives before death, the North Carolina court system handles estate administration. The office of the Clerk of Superior Court in the person’s county of residence will process the bulk of all estate administration proceedings. These include, but are not limited to:

Probate of wills

  • The granting or revoking of letters of authority relating to the administration of the estate
  • Determinations of elective shares for surviving spouses
  • Determinations of spousal allowances and dependent allowances
  • Proceedings to determine heirs or estate devisees
  • Approval of settlement agreements

If the value of the estate is less than $20,000, then the estate may qualify for a simplified administration process through the North Carolina court system. Or, if a surviving spouse is a sole beneficiary and the value of the estate is less than $60,000, then the estate may qualify for a simplified process. Otherwise, for most estates, the North Carolina probate rules require the courts to use the “full administration” process.

During full administration, the court appoints a personal representative to complete the probate or estate administration process. If a decedent passes without a legal will (i.e., intestate), this representative becomes the estate administrator. This administrator (also known as executor) is responsible for:  

  • Making an inventory of the late person’s property and assets
  • Notifying all beneficiaries or heirs of the late person’s estate
  • Paying all administrative fees or taxes that the estate owed
  • Settling all legal debts the late person owed 
  • Other tasks as necessary 

For more information, download our free guide, Understanding Estate Administration.

How to Begin Estate Administration

Estate administration typically begins with a petition to the Clerk of Court’s office in the late person’s county of residence. The estate executor must file a death certificate, will, and any other necessary documents with the clerk of court. A qualified probate attorney near you will help determine which documents they need to begin administering an estate.

Hire a Professional Probate Attorney in North Carolina

Estate administration is a complex process so hiring a qualified probate lawyer can help. Continue reading to learn how hiring a trusted probate attorney can simplify and streamline probate and estate administration in North Carolina.

What to Expect From a Probate Lawyer Near Me

If a loved one has recently passed away, a probate lawyer can help you with the administration of the estate.  Probate lawyers can also assist you with estate planning, including establishing a last will and testament and other papers needed to manage and care for the client’s estate after their death. Probate lawyers can also advise you regarding different techniques for helping your estate avoid the probate and estate administration process altogether. Getting started with a knowledgeable probate lawyer is as simple as reaching out to schedule a needs assessment call so we can help you determine the best way to get started.

Our professional probate lawyers at Carolina Family Estate Planning provide services through a series of meetings with prospective and new clients.

Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Probate Attorney Near Me

Estate administration doesn’t have to be an unpleasant complication during an already difficult time. Hiring a knowledgeable North Carolina probate lawyer near you will help reduce the stress of estate administration. A probate lawyer can help by:

  • Reducing liability for your actions as executor of the estate
  • Streamlining the estate administration process
  • Minimizing the potential for estate-related disputes
  • Reducing stress for the executor or the late person’s family
  • Ensuring full compliance with the law
  • Providing strong legal advice
  • And much more

Qualified, professional probate lawyers work to reduce stress and streamline the estate planning and administration processes.

At Carolina Family Estate Planning, we help families build better lives by planning for a secure future. Call us in Cary, NC, at 919-443-3035 today or schedule a needs assessment call with a member of our friendly, professional legal team.


Copyright © 2021. Carolina Family Estate Planning. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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