Probate is a legal process that transfers the assets of a deceased person to his or her heirs. The probate process can be complex, and it’s essential to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your loved one’s estate is handled properly.
In North Carolina, the probate process begins with the filing of a petition with the court. The petitioner (the person who initiates the probate process) must provide information about the deceased person and list his or her heirs. The court will then appoint an estate administrator to administer the estate. The estate administrator will be responsible for gathering the deceased person’s assets, paying any debts, and distributing the assets to the heirs.
Since the probate process is often expensive and time-consuming, many people do what is called “estate planning” to help their loved ones avoid probate.
What Is Estate Administration?
Estate administration is the process of managing the property and debts of a person who has died. This includes collecting assets, paying bills, and distributing property to heirs. In North Carolina, an estate administrator is appointed by the probate court to manage the estate. The administrator may be a family member, friend, or professional fiduciary.
If you have an estate plan, depending on the type of estate planning you have done, it is also possible that you have been named an estate administrator. As you appointed the person, and not a court, the legal term for this person changes to “personal representative” or “executor” This “personal representative” is the person who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes after you die.
Avoiding Probate With Estate Planning: The Do’s for Estate Administration
- Do Choose Someone Who You Trust and Who Knows Your Wishes
The personal representative will be responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out after your death, so it is important to select someone you trust well enough to handle and distribute your assets the way you would want them to.
- Do Make Sure That the Person Is Capable of Handling the Responsibilities of the Job
It is important to make sure that the individual chosen is capable of handling the complex tasks that come with being an estate personal representative. This includes filing taxes, managing assets, and communicating with beneficiaries. If they are capable, it could lead to problems and delays in the estate settlement process.
- Do Make Sure That the Personal Representative Is Aware of His or Her Role and Responsibilities
When creating an estate plan, it is important that the personal representative named in the estate plan is aware of his or her role in carrying out the wishes of the deceased. The personal representative is responsible for gathering and managing the assets of the estate, paying any debts and taxes owed, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. As such, you want this person to be able to familiarize themself with their future responsibilities and to seek legal advice as needed.
Avoiding Probate With Estate Planning: The Don’ts for Estate Administration
- Don’t Forget To Have a Backup Personal Representative Listed in Your Estate Plan
This is a recommendation that is often overlooked by many people yet it is important to have a backup estate personal representative listed in your estate plan in case something happens to the original personal representative. If something happens to the personal representative, or if the original estate personal representative simply refuses to do their job, the estate plan will need to be carried out by someone else. Having a backup personal representative listed in your estate plan ensures that there is delay and no need to warrant the probate process if something happens to the original personal representative.
- Don’t Choose a Personal Representative Who Lives Too Far Away
When choosing a personal representative, it is important to consider their proximity to the estate. If the administrator lives too far away, they may be unable to manage the estate in a timely manner. Furthermore, if there are any issues with the estate, the personal representative may need to be able to travel to the estate quickly in order to address them. This may be a little difficult and could delay the estate administration process. Besides, North Carolina has some restrictions on out-of-state personal representatives, such as having an in-state resident accept all legal papers on their behalf.
Speak to an Attorney About Your Estate Plan
In conclusion, following the do’s and don’ts of estate administration can help your loved ones avoid probate. Failing to do so can result in costly and time-consuming mistakes. Taking the time to plan ahead can help ensure a smooth process for everyone involved. If you have any questions about estate administration or estate planning in North Carolina, please contact an attorney at our law firm.