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NC and SC Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm

Thursday, September 19, 2019

North Carolina Small Estates

Some states, like North Carolina, have provisions for smaller estates that allow the estate to be administered in a way that is less expensive and time-consuming than the probate process for larger estates. To qualify for small estate administration, certain requirements must be met. Additionally, you must be prepared to pay a court fee and carefully prepare all of the requisite forms.

North Carolina Administration of Small Estates

Under North Carolina law, if an estate is valued at less than $20,000, then an interested party may start the small estate administration process thirty days after the death of the decedent. This number increases to $30,000 if the person filing is the spouse and sole heir of the decedent. After filing, the process begins with a small estate affidavit being issued in order to notify creditors of the estate going into probate. Any assets of the decedent must wait to be distributed until a copy of the affidavit is filed with the clerk’s office of the county where the decedent was domiciled at the time of his or her death.

Some estates are just smaller in nature due to the limited assets of the decedent. Other times, the decedent may have had more assets, but they are not assets included in the estate. This could be for reasons such as the fact that the value of real property is not included in the valuation of the estate. It could also be due to the structuring of the decedent assets. Only assets included in the probate estate go into the small estate calculation. This means that if an asset would not go through probate, it is not included in the value of the estate for the small estate value calculation.

There are several important and potentially valuable assets that fall outside of probate, including:

  • Jointly held property
  • Pay on death accounts
  • Insurance and retirement accounts with beneficiary designations
  • Living trusts

These assets are either transferred directly to the beneficiary or joint property owner after a person dies. Trust property distribution is overseen not by the probate court, but by the trustee who manages the trust for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. If the decedent had structured his or her estate in a way that much of the value went into assets that fall outside of probate, then his or her estate may also be eligible for small estate administration.

Developing Estate Plans to Protect You and Your Loved Ones

Small estate administration is a great option for many. It affords a process that is less time consuming and less expensive than probate. You can take steps now to set up your estate in a way that will help your loved ones after you pass. At Monk Law, we are here for you and your family. We will help you develop an estate plan that will always look after your best interests and those you care about. Contact us today.

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Monk Law Firm, PLLC assists clients throughout Charlotte, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and the surrounding areas.



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| Phone: 803-594-4453
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| Phone: 704-369-9977

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