Being a location that many people move to, when creating a Last Will & Testament in North Carolina can leave many people wondering who will help to settle their estate when they’re gone. The reason being: often people won’t have local family members in North Carolina. So, a question I encounter quite often is: “Can I Appoint an Out-of-State Executor in North Carolina?” Of course you can, but there are some differences between in-state and out-of-state executors.
First of all, the probate process (settling someone’s estate) is governed by the Clerk of Court in the county where you lived when you pass. However, the Clerk only has jurisdiction over people and property in the State of North Carolina. How can a North Carolina Clerk of Court make sure that an out-of-state executor is doing his or her job in settling your estate? Through legal process and summons. But in order to for those avenues to be enforceable, the out-of-state executor must appoint a person in North Carolina to accept notices and legal process. That person or entity is called a “Registered Process Agent.” When you have an out-of-state executor, they must appoint an RPA in order to serve. That’s generally not a big deal, however, because many law firms who handle probate cases will serve as the RPA for out-of-state executors.
Depending on the wording of your will and the preference of the Clerk in your county, your out-of-state executor may also be required to obtain a surety bond for the value of your probate estate. The bond essentially protects the beneficiaries of the estate from an out-of-state executor absconding with estate funds and leaving them high and dry. Not all clerks require this anymore, and most wills have a “No Bond” provision. So, it may not be as big of a hurdle as it could be. If the bond is required, it has to be worth 120% of the estate value and it has to be renewed each year that the estate is open, unfortunately.
The biggest issue with appointing an out-of-state executor is that the executor has to deal with the reality of coordinating a North Carolina estate from somewhere else. Logistically that can be very difficult. The executor will most likely need to hire a local probate lawyer in order to help with the pleadings, and will likely have to make several trips to North Carolina to deal with personal and bank property.
Even though there are some downsides to appointing an out-of-state executor, if that is your only option than you’re still better off appointing someone than appointing no one.