The Purpose of Probate
Probate law dictates how a decedent’s estate, assets and properties are transferred to their family and loved ones. The statutes have been put in place to ensure that distribution is done in an orderly and fair way and fulfills the wishes of the deceased.
The probate process typically goes more smoothly when an individual has left a valid will. The will determines who will act as the executor of the will and how the decedent’s estate, property and assets are shared among their family members and loved ones.
To begin probate, a petition must be made to open the estate. An administrator must then be appointed. The first step should not be difficult at all. The appointment of an administrator shouldn’t pose a problem either if a will was written. When there is no will, individuals can petition to become the administrator. However, the court will have statutes that determine who is eligible. Typically, the decedent’s spouse is asked first, then adult children.
The Job of The Administrator
The first job of the administrator is to determine and list all of the deceased’s assets and property. A thorough inventory of the estate must be made. Next, a Notice of Creditors must be placed in a local newspaper. This is done to alert creditors that the said person has died and if they believe that they have a claim against the decedent’s estate, then they need to file one with the courts. Next, a Notice of Administration must be sent out to all other parties that may have an interest in the estate or inheritance rights.
The estate administrator is responsible for paying the creditors and the beneficiaries. It will often take at least a couple of months before everyone gets paid. This is because it may take this long to take an inventory of the estate and then determine what creditors are owed money. After, the creditors are paid, than the beneficiaries’ money is released.
Is a Probate Attorney Necessary?
It is best that the administrator works very closely with a North Carolina probate lawyer who is familiar with the probate laws in North Carolina. Even though the process seems pretty simple and straight forward, it can become tricky really fast. This is especially true when dealing with creditors and even beneficiaries. There is even the potential for someone to contest the validity of the will. This could mean that the administrator is in for a fight. This is a fight that they will not want to engage in with out the help of an attorney.
Besides fighting off people who want to derail the probate, a good attorney will fill out necessary forms for you, submit them in time and have a firm grasp on what the courts require. It will save a ton of time having your attorney explain difficult legal concepts, instead of having to look them up and attempt to figure then out yourself. The quicker you can get through the process and with the less delays, everyone can go back to their regular lives. Having to deal with the death and loss of a loved one is enough stress. Most people do not want to worsen it by going through probate for 2-3 years.
Probate Resources- North Carolina
Inheritance Taxes- North Carolina
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