Large estates will almost always have to go through probate as protection for the estate. Probate allows a judge to oversee the process of closing the estate and matters of the deceased.
However, if you have a small or simple estate, then your family may be able to avoid the process. The North Carolina Judicial Branch explains that there is an alternative process for handling these types of estates.
Small estates are those with a low financial value. They may be one where the only money left is enough to cover the final expenses. In these situations, whoever is in charge of the estate can file an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of Decendent.
A simple estate would be one where everything goes to a spouse. In this situation, it does not matter if there is a will or other plan in place because everything will go to the spouse regardless.It is an easy process to transfer anything that requires doing so through using the Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property of Decendent.
An estate would not be labeled small or simple if there are any complex property issues or large assets unless the only survivor is a spouse. When adding in other family members or complicated financial situations, it is essential to take the estate through probate to ensure fairness and proper handling.
Small and simple estates do not require probate because there is little for the court to do. Unless someone contests something, the process generally takes care of itself and resolves very easily.