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When may a court reopen probate?

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2023 | Estate Planning

Closing out the estate of a deceased loved one and completing probate can help the surviving family members receive closure. This is why many families do their best to make probate as quick as possible. However, sometimes a court will reopen an estate and resume probate.

Under North Carolina law, there are various situations that may lead to the reopening of probate.

Finishing uncompleted tasks

Estate executors have many duties to perform during the course of probate. Sometimes one or two actions go unresolved before the closing of the estate. If so, the executor or another party may go to court to reopen probate, provided that the uncompleted act or acts are necessary.

Finding assets after probate

Large estates with a lot of property or varied assets run the risk of some assets going undiscovered until after probate is complete. If the outstanding property is valuable enough, a court might allow for the reopening of the estate.

Other reasons

State law permits probate to reopen for just about any reason if the cause is proper. For instance, there may be debts that the estate failed to pay off during the first round of probate. However, state law does not allow for parties to make claims during a second probate if a court barred them in the first round.

While second probate may be necessary to finish distributing an estate, it may also drag out the emotional stress of dealing with the death of a family member. Proper estate planning could make provision for quick dispersion of undiscovered assets or the payment of debts to help avoid or speed up probate.