In North Carolina, if a person dies without a Will, that person is said to have died "intestate," and the Administrator is the person who handles the deceased person's (decedent's) estate. If the person died with an original of his/her last Will, that person has died "testate," and the Executor named in the Will would be handling the estate. This is the most important distinction to make before going through the steps of handling a deceased person's estate. A thorough search should be done to determine whether the decedent left a Will. If there is no Will, and you wish to qualify as Administrator of the decedent's estate, there is a specific protocol you must follow in order to do so. You must first apply to the clerk of superior court on a form provided by the clerk's office called, Application For Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration are the official written authorization to carry out the responsibilities as Administrator of the estate. This application form calls for a preliminary inventory of all assets of the decedent as of the date of death. This is important because that means you as the applicant must have a general knowledge of the decedent's real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, cars, and other personal property. You must also estimate the value of these assets to complete the application. Also, the clerk will grant letters of administration to a person who applies and is qualified to serve in the following order: (1) Surviving spouse, (2) Anyone who is to receive property as indicated by Will, (3) Anyone entitled to receive property by law (w/o Will), (4) Any next of kin, (5) Any creditor to whom decedent became obligated prior to death, (6) Any person of good character residing in the county who applies with the clerk of superior court. You must also take an oath or make an affirmation to carry out all the duties as Administrator faithfully and honestly, and in most circumstances you will need to furnish a bond as Administrator. This is only the very beginning of the process. Most estate administration is very time consuming and can become quite complex. If you have never handled an estate before it may be a good idea to seek attorney assitance to help guide you through the process. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon this blog for legal advice, but instead should consult an attorney experienced in your area of concern.
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