Planning your estate and writing your will can give you peace of mind knowing that all of your hard-earned assets will go to the beneficiaries of your choice after your death. However, the process of distributing those assets does not happen overnight and can take several months or more. Probate is a court-supervised process that ultimately proves and registers an individual’s will and administers the estate. It is essentially the legal transfer of your estate to your chosen executor.
Probate can be a time-consuming process. It can leave family members feeling like they are in limbo or playing a perpetual waiting game. However, there are ways to make sure that the process goes smoothly and with minimal delay, and that your deceased loved one’s wishes are honored.
The North and South Carolina estate lawyers at Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A. can provide you with guidance and advice to keep the probate process as simple and expeditious as possible. Contact our experienced North Carolina probate attorneys today to learn more.
The Probate Process in North Carolina
In North Carolina, the probate process is typically only necessary if the deceased individual owned assets in their name only. Assets that are owned jointly will generally pass to the surviving owner without having to go through probate. The same is true for insurance benefits that specifically name beneficiaries.
To begin probate, the executor named in the deceased person’s will must submit the will to the courts. Legal heirs can then be identified and located, in addition to creditors who may wish to file claims against the estate for outstanding debts. Creditors will have 90 days from the publication of a notice of probate to file their claims.
North Carolina does allow individuals to file an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of Decedent, which is essentially a fast-track process that avoids the formal probate process. However, this process is only available for estates with small-dollar values.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve?
The length of the probate process depends on several factors. Generally, the larger the estate, the longer the process takes. Creditors have 90 days to file a claim with the estate. That’s three months of the probate process right there. As a general rule, most cases of probate take at least six months to one year to settle.
In cases of large estates or estates with numerous or complicated assets, it could take years to settle probate. The process can be further complicated if there are disputes that arise between family members or beneficiaries.
The process may also take time if the executor is unfamiliar with the estate or the probate process. There are strict deadlines that must be followed. A person unfamiliar with the process may miss these deadlines, further slowing the process.
How a Lawyer Could Help
Losing a loved one is never easy, and the probate process can push even the most patient person to their limit. A compassionate and experienced North Carolina probate lawyer can offer you the guidance you need to manage this potentially lengthy process with the minimum of surprises, and to rest easier knowing that your loved one’s wishes were met.
At Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A., we want to help make sure that your loved one’s wishes are honored and that you have the sound legal advice you need to make the probate process as quick and as smooth as possible. For more information on how we may be able to help you, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced North Carolina probate attorney.