The term “probate” refers to the validation of a deceased individual’s will, the process of settling that person’s estate. In North Carolina, if a person dies with a will, her or his property is distributed according to the will. If a person dies without a will, then North Carolina probate laws dictate how the assets of the deceased are distributed.
The probate process can take months to complete and requires a court appearance by the representative or executor of the estate. Probate can delay the availability of funds for funeral expenses and other immediate bills. During probate, the estate documents are not kept private, and are accessible to the public. For these and other reasons, many people who are making their wills prefer to ask their attorneys to help them plan their estates in a way that will avoid the probate process after their deaths.
Your experienced estate-planning attorney will help you prevent the assets in your estate from undergoing probate. This usually means creating a “revocable living trust” and transferring into the trust those assets that are subject to probate. Your attorney will also explain the potentially confusing distinctions between which types of assets are subject to probate and which types are transferred immediately without need of going through probate.
According to North Carolina state law, probate is necessary when a person dies leaving property in his or her own name, such as a house, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cars, jewelry, home furnishings and clothing. Property that is not subject to probate includes assets that are in a revocable trust, jointly owned real estate, life insurance policies and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries, and bank accounts that have payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) clause.
Your attorney will explain the best ways for you to avoid probate and ensure they are legally valid:
1. Place your assets and property in a living trust, where they are managed by a trustee (this can be yourself);
2. Designate beneficiaries by name on your retirement and bank accounts; and
3. Consider holding your property jointly with your spouse, partner, or adult children (18 and older).
Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on workers’ compensation and personal injury law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at email@example.com, or by calling (336) 882-2000.