It depends on the nature of the Estate. Many assets pass outside of Probate and Estate Administration. For example, assets with Beneficiary designations such as retirement accounts and life insurance may pass outside of Probate.

Many individuals opt to use Trusts to keep assets out of Probate. However, it is important to understand that Estate Administration is still necessary with a Trust. If properly established, the Trust permits the Estate Administration to be handled privately, without court supervision.

Even if there do not appear to be assets in the Testate Estate, if there is a valid Last Will and Testament, North Carolina law requires that it be filed with the Clerk of Court in the county in which the Decedent lived at time of death.

If you need help to determine the appropriate steps regarding Estate Administration and whether Probate is required, consider hiring legal assistance.


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