The purpose of probate is to oversee the distribution of a decedent’s assets and the payment of their debts. The state’s probate courts have the sole authority to authenticate a Will, appoint an executor, and oversee that person’s actions.
If you have been named as an executor, you play an important role in the administration of the estate. An experienced attorney can guide you on your responsibilities in the Wake Forest probate process. Similarly, if you are an heir or another interested party in an estate, you may wish to seek legal counsel as well.
Probate begins when the court receives two documents. The first is a valid Will, which can be submitted at any time by any party. Along with the Will, the court must also receive a valid death certificate. Any party may submit this documentation, along with the $120 filing fee, and request that the court begin the probate process.
The next step is to validate the Will. If a Will contains the testator’s signature and the signatures of two witnesses, the document is presumed to be valid. However, any party who has an interest in the estate or would stand to inherit if the Will did not exist has the right to challenge the document’s authenticity. A skilled local attorney can assist those involved with Will disputes in the probate process. Once a court answers these concerns, it will move forward to appoint an executor.
A person may become the executor of an estate in one of two ways. According to North Carolina General Statutes § 28A-4-1, a Will may nominate an executor. Alternatively, if the named executor refuses the role or if the Will does not nominate anyone, the court may appoint an executor. Generally speaking, any person over the age of 18 may serve in this role.
Once the court certifies an executor, it will issue letters testamentary. These letters grant the executor power to administer the estate. This could involve the following actions:
Importantly, executors must keep records of their actions to show that they are fulfilling their duties to the court and the estate.
When an executor believes that they have paid all debts and transferred all property, they may file paperwork with the court stating that the estate should close. The court will examine the list of the decedent’s assets and contrast it with the Will and the executor’s logs. If the court believes that the estate has fulfilled its purpose, it will be closed. If not, the court may direct the executor to continue their role. A seasoned lawyer can help executors reach a successful conclusion to the Wake Forest probate process.
Almost every Will must go through the state’s probate process. Any party may submit a Will and death certificate to the court, beginning the process. However, probate can be a long and complex journey, requiring help from a dedicated attorney to successfully navigate the legal system. If you are dealing with the Wake Forest probate process, reach out to our firm today to learn how we can help.