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Can An Executor Pay Bills Before Probate In North Carolina?

If you’re the personal representative, or executor, of a deceased person’s estate, you have several responsibilities to fulfill, including paying the person’s ongoing bills. You’ve just lost a loved one, so you’re most likely grieving and going through a difficult time. Still, you must go through probate to close the person’s estate eventually. Learning about paying the deceased person’s credit card bills, medical bills, and other debts can help the probate process go smoothly. Many executors may not think about paying the decedent’s bills until they receive the person’s statements in the mail. It’s helpful to learn about this process before it’s too late. At Cary Estate Planning, we understand how hard it is to lose a loved one. We aim to help you with probate so you can focus on coping with loss and spending time with family and friends. If you’ve been named an executor of a recently deceased person in North Carolina, a probate attorney at Cary Estate Planning can help.

Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of settling a deceased person’s estate. It gives family members or a surviving spouse the ability to handle the decedent’s assets. While probate isn’t always necessary in North Carolina, most estates must undergo this process. The person who handles the decedent’s assets is called the executor. The deceased person usually appoints the executor in their will. If the decedent doesn’t name an executor in their will, the probate court will appoint someone to do it.

What are the Responsibilities of an Executor?

Although the estate executor will likely be grieving the loss of their loved one, their responsibilities as the personal representative have to be completed.

Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Taking inventory of the deceased person’s assets
  • Delivering notices to all creditors
  • Filing state and federal taxes
  • Paying off all bills and debts
  • Selling assets if the estate doesn’t cover all expenses
  • Distributing the estate to all beneficiaries

If you feel overwhelmed by these duties, you can rely on a probate lawyer to help.

Can an Executor Pay Bills Before Probate in NC?

The executor must handle the decedent’s outstanding bills and expenses, including utility, insurance, car, and mortgage payments. If the deceased person was living in a house or apartment that others are still living in, then you can transfer the payments to whoever will be in charge of rent or mortgage. You can do this before the probate process so important payments aren’t missed. For example, it’s essential that utility bills are being paid, so the building still has lighting and heat. Other bills will be forwarded to the executor, which can be taken care of as they come in. The executor will use estate assets to pay these expenses. There are also expenses called final bills. These are bills the executor can only pay once the probate is completed. Final bills can include medical care, taxes, and credit card statements.

Frequently Asked Questions about Probate

Are executors paid for their services?

In North Carolina, an executor can be paid for their services and any expenses from the probate process. The court must approve the costs before the executor can be paid. They can also be compensated up to 5% of the estate value. The court determines this percentage.

Can you avoid the probate process?

Most estates have to go through probate in North Carolina. However, there are a few ways you can be dismissed from the probate process. For example, if the only heir to the decedent is their spouse, you won’t need to go through the probate process.

How long does probate take?

The probate process is different for every estate. Sometimes it can last a few months, and other times it can last several years. Typically, larger estates take longer to go through probate than smaller estates. Other factors that affect the duration of probate include the number of creditors and if the deceased’s beneficiaries get into a dispute. For example, if the beneficiaries disagree on asset distribution, the probate can’t be completed until the issue is resolved. Your probate lawyer can estimate how long the probate process will take for the estate for which you’re responsible.

Seek Help From a Probate Attorney Today

Going through the probate process as an executor can be overwhelming, especially when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. The legal team at Cary Estate Planning can help you navigate being an executor and completing probate. You are our highest priority. Are you an executor of a recently lost loved one? Do you have questions about the probate process? If so, call Cary Estate Planning today to talk to one of our attorneys. Schedule your free consultation now so that we can get started on probate.

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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