Winston-Salem Probate Lawyer

After the passing of a loved one, family members may find themselves facing probate court, which covers inheritance law in North Carolina. Probate law processes the assets and liabilities of a deceased person. When a person dies, their wishes must be carried out according to the law. The probate court ensures that any will is followed, debts are paid, and any remaining assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes.

At King Law, we are well-versed in probate law and can help you and your family navigate the probate court process. Our Winston-Salem probate attorneys will assist you in filing all necessary paperwork and documents as well as representing you in court.

What Is Inheritance Law in North Carolina?

Inheritance law is the legal procedure for transferring ownership of property from a deceased person to the beneficiaries of their estate. This includes any real estate, personal property, stocks, bonds, and other assets. In North Carolina, inheritance law is governed by the North Carolina General Statutes and the North Carolina Probate Code.

This area of law focuses on several facets of the estate, including:

Identifying the Deceased’s Assets

In order to distribute the assets of the deceased, it is essential to first identify them. This can include investments, real estate, vehicles, jewelry, or tangible goods. It is crucial to take into account any bank accounts, life insurance policies, or other financial holdings that may exist. Once the assets have been identified, it is important to determine their value and document the findings.

Determining Who Is Entitled to Inherit Them

After the assets have been identified, it is necessary to determine who is legally entitled to inherit them. This may include the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, or other close relatives. It is important to consider any relevant state laws that may apply to the distribution of assets.

Settling Any Debts or Taxes

Once the beneficiaries have been identified, it is important to address any outstanding debts or taxes that may be owed by the deceased. This may include bills, mortgages, or other debts that must be settled before the assets can be distributed. Additionally, any applicable taxes must be paid before the assets can be distributed.

Distributing the Remaining Assets in Accordance With the Deceased’s Wishes

Once all outstanding debts and taxes have been settled, the remaining assets can be distributed in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. This may include giving certain assets to specific beneficiaries or setting up a trust to manage the assets. It is important to ensure that the distribution of assets is done in accordance with the laws of the state in which the deceased resided.

Representing the Beneficiaries in Court

If there is a dispute among the beneficiaries regarding the distribution of assets, it may be necessary to represent them in court. A Winston-Salem probate attorney can help to ensure that the assets are distributed in accordance with the wishes of the deceased, as well as to protect the beneficiaries’ interests.

Understanding Probate Proceedings in North Carolina

For estates under $20,000 in value, probate court may not be necessary. However, in most cases, a will or other estate planning documents are required to go through probate court in order to be executed. In North Carolina, the probate court is the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the deceased person lived.

Generally, a Petition for Probate must be filed within 60 days from the date of death of the estate owner. However, the court may grant an extension of this timeline in some circumstances. The timeline is usually sufficient to allow for time to get a copy of the death certificate, collect the assets of the estate, and prepare the necessary paperwork to petition the court for probate.

What to Expect During Probate Proceedings

The probate process is usually initiated by filing a Petition for Probate. This petition initiates the process of administering the deceased person’s estate. The petition must include information about the deceased person’s assets, liabilities, and heirs. Once the petition is filed, the court appoints an executor to oversee the estate administration.

The probate court will then review all relevant documents, including the will and any other estate planning documents, and determine the validity of the documents. The court will also determine if any creditors of the deceased person must be notified and if any taxes must be paid.

When all of the necessary documents have been filed and all creditors have been paid, the executor will then distribute the assets as outlined in the will. In some cases, the court may require that a guardian be appointed to manage the estate of any minor children. 

What Assets Go Through Probate in North Carolina and How Can I Avoid It?

In North Carolina, assets that go through probate include real estate, personal property, and bank accounts. To avoid probate, you can transfer assets to a living trust, create a pay-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designation on your accounts, or designate a beneficiary on your retirement accounts. 

You can also create a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship (JTWROS) on real estate and other assets. Finally, you can make gifts to loved ones during your lifetime, or create a revocable living trust in which you transfer ownership of your assets.

Learn How King Law in Winston-Salem Can Help with Your Probate Law Needs

The death of a loved one is difficult enough without having to go through the legal process of probate. At King Law in Winston-Salem, our probate lawyers understand this and are here to help you through this difficult time. Our team of experienced probate lawyers can assist you in navigating the complex North Carolina probate laws and provide legal advice and guidance throughout the process.

Our goal is to help you understand the probate process from start to finish, including gathering assets, filing documents with the court, and distributing assets to heirs. Our probate lawyers will explain the different options available to you and advise you on the best course of action for your particular situation. Give us a call at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING. Alternatively, you can fill out our contact form.

The Essential Plan
  • Last Will and Testament
  • General Durable Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • HIPPA Release
  • Tangible Personal Property Memorandum
  • Funeral & Memorial Instructions
  • Complete Execution, Witnessing, Notarization, and Filing of Documents
  • Guardianship Provisions for Minor Children
  • Free Mirror Image Documents for Spouse
The Legacy Plan
  • Last Will and Testament
  • General Durable Power of Attorney
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • HIPPA Release
  • Tangible Personal Property Memorandum
  • Funeral & Memorial Instructions
  • Complete Execution, Witnessing, Notarization, and Filing of Documents
  • Guardianship Provisions for Minor Children
  • Free Mirror Image Documents for Spouse
  • Leather-bound Binder for Documents
  • Personal Information Organizer
  • Testamentary Trust Option
  • Guidelines for Serving as Personal Representative
  • Lady Bird Life Estate Deed
  • Case Manager who will meet with you Annually to discuss possible changes or updates in the law
  • Living Trust
  • Deed(s) to Living Trust
  • Assignment of Personal Property to Trust
  • Bill of Sale to Trust
  • Certification of Trust
  • Guidelines for Serving as Trustee
  • Guidelines for Organ Donation
  • Twenty-Five Percent (25%) Discount on Estate, Probate, or Trust Administration Services for Immediate Family