Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Although North Carolina has a handy pamphlet for those new to executing estates, it is comprised mostly of legalese copy and pasted from NC General Statutes. I thought I'd share here the process I have gone through involving the court to help others. So here goes my attempt at simplifying the probate process.

Below I've included the numbers of the forms here in NC. If you're confused about something in your own state, you can look these forms up online (just google the number) and it should help to clarify your own process.

1. From your funeral home or crematorium you need two important things: a copy of the paid funeral bill, and one or more death certificates. Expect to pay around $10 per certified copy. You will need several of these, but the number depends on how many accounts, properties, etc the decedent owned.

2. Go to the county courthouse and find the Estates office, usually around the Clerk of Court as it is under its purview. Bring at least $200 in cash. Yes, it costs money to file these damn forms.

3. Forms! I did the following all in one sitting so they might not be ordered appropriately below.
---You will file a very easy form called Certificate of Probate, NC form AOC-E-304. You will need the original notarized will as well as a certified death certificate.
--At the same time you should be sworn in as the executor or executrix. The necessary form is called the Application for Probate and Letters (NC AOC-E-201). It will ask for some basic info about the deceased.
--The next form for this part is Oath/Affirmation, (NC AOC-E-400).
--Finally, you file a form called Order Authorizing Issuance of Letters (NC AOC-E-402).

4. Whew. So now you should be dandy and the deputy clerk assisting you will give you Letters Testatmentary (NC AOC-E-403). You will want several of these--this is your legal proof that your are the executor.

5. Now what? You need to file a notice to creditors in your local paper. Ask the deputy clerk about this as it might be different in other states. In NC it has to run for 30 days, then a notarized affidavit is sent to the executor and the court. Bring a copy of your Letters and the death certificate.

6. You also need to fill out and file the Inventory for Decedent's Estate (NC AOC-E-505). This is exactly what it sounds like. All the accounts without direct beneficiaries, household goods, etc. I believe you have about 3 months to complete this and return it to the Estates office. While you're there again (bring cash), make sure they received the affidavit from the newspaper. If not, have them make a copy of yours. While they're at it, have them make a copy of the paid funeral bill (they need it for their files).

7. So, even though the whole notice to creditors thing should have been covered by now, there is a form. It is called Affidavit of Notice to Creditors (NC AOC-E-307). This basically says you tried looking for people to whom the decedent owed money (i.e. the ad in the paper). Boom. Easy.

8. You'll file an Estate Tax Certification (NC AOC-E-212) with the deputy clerk as well. The details of this may vary by state, but it determines whether or not state Estate tax is due.

9. Finally (as far as I know) you'll file the Final Account or Annual Account (NC AOC-E-506). This wraps up the probate process. It takes the estate's worth from the original inventory and adds/subtracts anything that has happened since you filed that inventory. So, if you had to pay an ambulance bill, that would be subtracted from the estate (assuming you paid from an estate account, which you need to set up with the decedent's bank). Keep proof/receipts for payments made to creditors--the court would like copies included. I believe you have about a year before this annual account is due.

And that, I hope, is everything for the court. Financial and tax stuff are another matter....

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