Probate is a common term used in cases where someone who had assets in their name passes way. This term refers to the legal process of administering the estate of the person who passed away. Key players involved in this process are referred to in special terms, such as the “decedent” (the person who has passed away) and the “executor” (the person who is administering the estate following the death).
To initiate the probate process, a relative of the decedent typically files the will of the decedent and any other relevant documents with the Clerk of Superior Court in the North Carolina County where the decedent resided. In the case that the decedent did not have a will, the decedent is referred to as “intestate” and this requires the filing of a separate form acknowledging that the Clerk of Superior Court is responsible for estate administration.
The executor of the estate has several important responsibilities when the decedent passes away. The executor has to notify all of the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, review all of the assets, pay taxes or other administrative expenses related to the estate, reconcile debts owed by the estate, and file for the accounting of the entire estate. Only particular assets will be subjected to probate. If assets are jointly owned, for example, they will automatically transfer to the survivor. Life insurance policies and certain retirement accounts are also protected from probate. To be entirely sure of what falls under probate and how that is managed, schedule an appointment to discuss your needs.
Probate is over when the taxes, debts and administrative costs have been paid and when any remaining possessions are distributed to the beneficiaries. The executor will be released from duty at that point. Depending on the nature of the assets involved and how many beneficiaries there are, probate can be a lengthy process. Educating yourself about what’s involved is the most effective way to be prepared. Contact Meek Law Firm for a consultation appointment to learn more.
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