When someone dies, there are so many things to take care of. Hopefully, the deceased person did leave an estate plan, including a will. That estate plan must be managed and the assets given to beneficiaries, as stated in the will. However, before that can happen, the chances are high that the will must go through the probate process, unless it meets certain requirements under North Carolina’s probate laws.
There are a few ways a testator can sidestep the probate process in North Carolina. Putting the estate into a revocable living trust is one of the most popular and easiest ways. This kind of trust passes the estate to beneficiaries when the testator dies but allows the testator to maintain control of the estate while he or she is living. Also, if the estate’s value is less than $20,000 (or $30,000 if a surviving spouse is the only beneficiary), the estate won’t have to go through probate, but an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of Decedent form must be filled out and filed with the court.
The time it takes to probate a will depends on a few factors, but executors and beneficiaries can expect the process to take a minimum of four to five months. A larger estate may take more than a year, since it may take time to locate all assets. If a will is contested, the probate process can be held up even longer.
Settling an estate in North Carolina is usually straightforward, but it could get more complicated, depending upon the contents of the estate. Those who havequestions regarding the probate process may wish to speak to an attorney experienced in these matters. Having a lawyer’s assistance can help ensure that there are minimal issues when the time comes, especially when one’s estate is a complex one.