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Probate in NC: Qualifying as Executor of the Estate

The period following the death of a loved one is already a very difficult time, but once things start to settle down there’s a lot of work left to do: the North Carolina probate process. If your loved one had a will that needs to be submitted to probate, just getting the process started can be confusing for an Executor. So where does it all begin? Getting you qualified as Executor.

Where to File: Probate Venue

Generally speaking, the rule for probate venue in North Carolina is that the Clerk of Court in the county where the deceased was “domiciled” at the time of their death is the proper venue for their probate to take place. Domicile means the location in which the deceased resided and intended to remain at the time of their death, i.e., their personal residence if they had no plans to move. The Clerk of Court oversees the probate process, and all estate paperwork is submitted to and reviewed and approved (or denied) by the Clerk’s Office in the Estates Division. In Wake County, that’s the County Courthouse in Raleigh, on the 12th floor.

What to File: Opening Probate

In cases where the estate of a deceased individual needs to be opened to move probate assets, like vehicles and individual bank accounts, the probate process starts with the initial filings and payment of the filing fees. If there is an original will, the Executor named in the will would submit the original will, death certificate, Application for Probate and Letters Testamentary, Oath of Executor, and any other supporting documents (like car titles or valuation, account numbers and values, etc.). These documents are submitted with the initial filing fee of $120. What the Executor gets back is the Certificate of Probate and the Letters Testamentary – which give him or her the authority to marshal the assets of the deceased and act on behalf of the estate.

Who Can’t Serve as Executor?

Just because you’re named as Executor doesn’t mean you’re entitled to serve. The following factors can make someone disqualified from serving as Executor of an estate:

  1. Under the age of 18;
  2. Adjudicated incompetent;
  3. A convicted felon;
  4. a nonresident who has not appointed a resident agent;
  5. a corporate not authorized to act as PR in this state;
  6. a person who has lost his or her rights in any manner under Chapter 31A (Acts Barring Property Rights);
  7. Illiterate;
  8. a person the Clerk finds unsuitable; or
  9. a person who has renounced.

In some instances, a former spouse will be precluded from serving as well.

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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