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How does the probate process begin?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2023 | Estate Planning

Probate is the process of closing out an estate after a person dies. It is not an automatic process.

A personal representative must start probate by filing the will with the probate court. But prior to this, there are a few other tasks a person may need to do.

Gathering documentation

The court will need the will to begin probate. Sometimes, this may require looking for it. Some people may not be very well organized, so this could involve contacting attorneys or other professionals. It might require searching the person’s home and personal items. Finding the will is essential to beginning the process. Without a will, the state will take over the process of disbursing assets.

You will also need to get the death certificate. It is helpful to create a list of assets as well.

Filing the will

Once you have the documentation, you will need to file the will with the clerk of court in the county in which the person lived. The county would be the place where the person lived at the time of his or her death. If the person did not live in North Carolina but has assets in the state, then the filing can happen in the county of the asset location. Otherwise, any county can handle the process if the person died in the state.

When going to the clerk of court, make sure to bring the will, death certificate and inventory list. You also must pay a $120 fee to file and complete an application.

Once filed, the estate will then turn over to the court and the named executor. From this point, the executor will handle most tasks involved with closing the estate.