A guide to North Carolina probate laws.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old, if they are of “sound mind,” may write a will in North Carolina.
Every will must be signed by at least two competent witnesses.
Yes, but unless there are two disinterested witnesses, an inheritance may be void.
Yes, North Carolina allows for a holographic will if it is written entirely in the testator’s handwriting. If it is, then the will doesn’t need to be signed by witnesses if it follows one of the following stipulations:
No, North Carolina is not a community property state.
In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.
In North Carolina, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate based on the laws of intestate succession.
This is how much a surviving spouse receives in a few different circumstances:
|If the decedent is survived by a spouse and:||Surviving spouse's share of real property||Surviving' spouse's share of personal property|
|One child or grandchild if the child is deceased||One-half||Everything, if the total property value does not exceed $60,000; or $60,000 plus 1/2 of the remainder if the value exceeds $60,000|
|Two or more children, or at least one child and at least one grandchild from another child who is deceased, or two more grandchildren from children who are deceased||One-third||Everything, if the total property value does not exceed $60,000; or $60,000 plus 1/3 if the value exceeds $60,000|
|No children or grandchildren from deceased children, but at least one parent||One-half||Everything, if the total property value does not exceed $100,000; or $100,000 plus 1/2 if the value exceeds $100,000|
|No children or parents||Everything||Everything|
Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order:
For someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share may pass to their children often with a per capita at each generation designation.
In North Carolina, you can file your will with the office of the superior court for safekeeping.
After the testator dies, the named executor can file the will at the superior court in the county where the decedent lived. After 60 days or at the court’s discretion, an interested beneficiary can file the will if no executor has applied for probate, and the executor has been given 10 days notice.
North Carolina allows for wills to be proven while the testator is still alive, in a process known as living probate, in which the testator petitions the superior court.
In North Carolina, personal property may not need to go through probate if its value is less than $20,000, less any creditor judgements. To do this, you must file a small estate affidavit at least 30 days after the decedent has passed away, if no personal representative’s petition to oversee the estate is pending or has been granted.
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Elissa is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She writes about estate planning, mortgages, and occasionally health insurance. In the past she has written about film and music.
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