The expense of probate goes beyond the financial. Probate is a time-consuming process that can be emotionally and physically draining on heirs when they are already grieving a loss. Most people think having a will is enough to avoid probate, but a will can only help a probate court judge make decisions when distributing assets to heirs. Even a simple probate proceeding can be complicated and require the help of an estate attorney and accountant.  

In North Carolina, if the estate is small, it can be probated with a summary administration. An heir must submit a petition to the court that includes an accurate inventory of assets. After all debts and taxes are paid on the estate, gifts to beneficiaries can be distributed as stated in the will, or by following North Carolina intestate estate laws. Then the heir or his or her representative will work with the court to close the estate. If a simple probate proceeding sounds overwhelming, imagine the steps involved when a large estate that goes to probate. 

There are ways to protect heirs from having to deal with probate or to ensure a simple probate proceeding. 

  1. Survivorship Deeds on property allow for the transfer of property upon death to the surviving owner or owners. 
  2. Beneficiary Accounts allow the named beneficiary to immediately claim ownership of the account/accounts upon the owner’s death. 
  3. A Revocable or Living Trust gives a trustee immediate authority to manage trust assets upon death. 

If you have questions about estate planning or would like to make an appointment with one of our Alloy Wealth Management financial advisors, call 800-689-3935.