How to Probate a Small Estate in North Carolina
Small Estate Limits for North Carolina
In North Carolina, you can use an Affidavit if the value of the estate, less liens or encumbrances, doesn't exceed $20,000 ($30,000 not counting the spousal allowance, if the surviving spouse is the sole heir.) There is a 30-day waiting period.
N.C. Gen. Stat. 28A-25-1 and following.
There is a summar probate proceeding availabe if the surviving spouse inherits everything.
N.C. Gen. Stat. 28A-28-1 and following.
the homestead allowance, exempt property, family allowance, and costs of administration, funeral expenses, and last illness expenses.
What's Included in valuing the estate?
Not everything a person owns is part of their "Estate" for probate purposes.
If you're wrapping up the estate of a North Carolina resident who died with an estate that's worth less than a certain dollar amount, you won't have to go through a formal probate court proceeding.
It doesn't matter whether or not the deceased person left a will; what matters is the value of the assets left behind. If the estate's value is under the "small estates" limit in North Carolina, you can take advantage of a simplified probate procedure, often called a "summary probate." Instead of having a court hearing in front of a judge, you may need only to file a simple form or two and wait for a certain amount of time before distributing the assets.
In some states, it can be even easier: Inheritors can use a simple affidavit to claim assets. (An affidavit is a statement you sign in front of a notary, swearing something is true.) If you live in one of those states, you just have to wait a required period of time, then sign a simple, sworn statement that no probate proceeding is happening in your state and that you are the person entitled to inherit a particular asset--a bank account, for example.
Adding it up, what's in, what's not
When you are trying to determine whether or not an estate's value is below the North Carolina small estates limit, the first thing to do is make a list of the assets. A simple spreadsheet or list will do.
Not everything a person owns counts, though.
Include only the things that pass to heirs and beneficiaries by will or, if there's no will, by North Carolina intestacy laws, which determine who inherits if there is no will.