This is a guide to assist those who have been named as executor in a will through the probate process.
Qualification and Oath
Even though you were named executor in the will, you must still qualify by applying to the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the decedent resided. You apply by filling out a form "Application for Probate and Letters" AOC-E-201. The form will ask for a general accounting of the estate e.g. personal property, bank accounts, real estate.
After you qualify, you will take an oath where the Clerk will swear you into the office of executor.
You must publish a notice to creditors in a newspaper that is qualified to publish legal advertisements. The notice must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks. The notice also must also alert creditors that they have 3 months from the date of publication to file a claim.
After appropriate publication, the you must file an "Affidavit of Notice to Creditors" AOC-E-307 with the Clerk of Superior Court.
Filing the Inventory
You must file "inventory For Decedent's Estate" AOC-E-505 with the Clerk of Superior Court within 3 months of qualifying as executor. The form calls for an inventory of all real and personal assets in the estate (with accurate descriptions and date of death values).
Paying the Debts
You must pay all debts of the estate based on the statutory priority. The priority of creditors can be found in G.S. 29A-19-6.
Estate Tax Return
If estate taxes are owed, those forms must be filed with the appropriate revenue office i.e. federal or state. If no estate taxes are owed, you must file "Estate Tax Certification" AOC-E-212 with the Clerk of Superior Court.
Distribution of Assets
You must distribute the remaining assets of the estate based on the terms of the will. If the will does not cover an asset, it must pass through the intestacy laws, which can be found in North Carolina's intestate succession act.
If there is a surviving spouse, they may file for a year's allowance ($30,000 plus $5,000 for each minor child) using the following: "Application and Assignment Year's Allowance", AOC-E-100.
Final and Annual Accounting
Within one year of qualification, you must file your annual and final accounting. The clerk of court may grant an extension of time for good cause shown.
The accounting will detail investments, income, property received, gains and losses, payments and distributions, and the value of the estate at the initial inventory and at the final accounting.
If the final accounting is approved by the Clerk of Court, you will be discharged.
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