Probate in North Carolina: Know the Timeline

Estate Administration is the court-supervised process through which a person’s estate is settled. People commonly refer to this process as “probate”. Probate may be required whether or not your loved one had a legally valid will. At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, our law firm helps clients navigate probate. We want to make sure you have an understanding of the overall timeline. Here, our Monroe estate administration attorney highlights the key timelines and deadlines to know about the probate process in North Carolina.

An Estate Should Generally Be Opened Within 60 Days

Probate does not start automatically in North Carolina. Someone must take action to “open” the process. If the decedent had a will, the executor as named in the will should initiate probate. If the decedent lacked a valid will, the decedent’s next of kin should take action to be named the estate administrator. Either way, the probate process in North Carolina should generally be initiated within 60 days.

A Note on Small Estate Administration: Under North Carolina law (NC General Statutes § 28A-25-1), some estates may be able to avoid probate through an alternative process called a small estate affidavit. To be eligible to use a small estate affidavit, the total value of the estate must be under $20,000 ($30,000 if the surviving spouse is the sole heir).

Notice Must Be Given to Creditors Within 75 Days of Letters Being Granted

The person responsible for administering the estate (executor if there was a will, estate administrator if there was no will) must provide a valid notice of the process to all implicated creditors. The notice to creditors must be individually sent to all know creditors and must also be published in the newspaper. This is one of the most important requirements in the estate administration process. Failure to comply with the creditor notice requirement could lead to significant problems, including legal disputes and the inability to convey clear title to real property of the decedent Under North Carolina law (NC General Statutes § 28A-14-1), creditors should be notified within 75 days of the date that letters of administration were granted to the executor/administrator.

Complete the Inventory Within 90 Days (When Possible)

The executor or estate administrator is also responsible for taking a comprehensive inventory of the decedent’s estate. Among other things, this includes determining all of the property and assets of the estate and providing the fair market value of that property. Under North Carolina law (NC General Statutes§ 28A-20-1), the inventory should be completed within 90 days. That being said, the county clerk of court can provide additional time if there is a good cause. For example, the executor or estate administrator may be granted an extension of time to complete the inventory if the assets of the estate are unknown or are unusually complex.

Get Help From a Probate & Estate Administration Lawyer in Monroe, North Carolina

At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, our Monroe probate & estate administration attorneys are reliable advocates for people and families. If you have any questions about the probate timeline, we are here to help. Contact us now for a strictly confidential evaluation of your case. We provide probate law representation throughout Union County.