Administering an uncontested probate and estate administration in North Carolina generally takes between six months to a year. The process and time involved can vary depending upon the nature and complexity of the Estate.

If there is an Estate dispute, due to the nature of the legal system, the dispute may take months or years to resolve, which will then impact how long it takes to administer the Estate.

In limited circumstances, a smaller estate may be administered in 90 days or less in North Carolina, such as:

  • If the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary and the probate assets are worth $60,000 or less than the Spousal Election may be appropriate;
  • Summary Administration or Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of a Decedent may be possible for an estate consisting only of small amounts of personal property ($60,000 if surviving spouse is sole beneficiary, otherwise $20,000 or less).

However, it should be noted that some of these procedures for small estates may streamline the estate administration process, they also may come with certain risks. For example, with Summary Administration or Affidavit for Collection the recipient of the decedent’s assets may still be subject to the decedent’s creditors. Often, the decedent’s creditors may not be known, creating the risk that a previously unknown creditor will show up later to claim money owed. While formal estate administration can be more time-consuming, it ensures that all debts have been cleared and beneficiaries have clear right to the estate assets.


Losing a loved one is hard. The days and weeks after a loss are often fraught with grief, questions, and unfortunately, family complications. It’s a terrible time to try to think through a legal process clearly. It’s often a challenge just to know where to start. Maybe you’re not even sure what questions to ask and whom to ask. How do you know you’re getting good advice and doing it right? You could probably use some help. Our Understanding Estate Administration guide can help. This guide will give you an overview of the probate and estate administration process in plain English. Request your free copy here.


Jennifer Mercer
Paralegal, Probate and Estate Administration Team Lead