How Executors and Trustees Affect Your North Carolina Probate Process

Jackie Bedard
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As a North Carolina attorney who dedicates her practice to estate planning in the Triangle, one of the most common questions that Attorney Jackie Bedard has been asked is, “What exactly is probate…and is there a way to avoid it?”

Yes, there is a way to avoid having your estate process go through the process of being heard in probate court. Any time a person passes away with while owning assets in the individual name, their estate must go through the Clerk of Superior Court’s probate process, even if he or she had a will in place before passing.

Whomever the deceased appointed to administer the estate, also called the “executor,” must file the proper forms with the Court—including the will, if applicable—and then the Court will grant permission to distribute the estate as the will instructs or as North Carolina law allows, whichever is applicable in the individual situation. This process can be quite tedious, and depending on the number of assets, can take months.

One way to avoid the North Carolina probate process altogether is to establish a living trust and title all of your assets to the trust. A trust is a legal arrangement where the trustmaker transfers legal ownership of property to a trustee to hold and manage for the benefit of named beneficiaries.  Generally, the trustmaker names him or herself as the initial trustee, but also names successor trustees to fill their shoes later on.

The trustee manages the trust, and is legally required to use the trust only to benefit the beneficiaries, or the trustmaker, if the trustmaker is still alive. It can be challenging trying to decide who will manage your North Carolina trust, and Carolina Family Estate Planning can help you make that decision.

We can also help you answer tough questions about estates, trusts and probate, including:

  • Should I choose to set up a simple will or should I put everything into a trust?
  • How do I choose an executor to distribute my estate?
  • Are there rules for setting up a trust in North Carolina?
  • Whom should I choose to be trustee?
  • If I establish a trust, will be spouse and children have immediately access to their funds?
  • What will an attorney do for me during the North Carolina estate planning process?
  • Do I still need a living will if I have a trust already in place?
  • Can my spouse and I share a trust?
  • Is there a way to set up a trust so that my kids do not receive their money until they are a bit older?


Not only will Attorney Jackie Bedard of Carolina Family Estate Planning answer all of these questions for you, but she will help you come up with an individualized, comprehensive plan based on your specific needs, and then make arrangements to execute that plan right away.

Simply call 919.443.3035 to schedule your appointment today, or fill out our online form to request more information. You can also sign up for one of our many seminars or request a free copy of Attorney Bedard’s book, 12 Most Common Threats to Your Estate and Your Family’s Future.