When someone passes away, their assets and property must be distributed according to their wishes as outlined in their will or according to North Carolina intestate laws if the person dies without a will.
In this article, our North Carolina estate planning attorney at David Anderson, PLLC, will discuss the duties of an NC executor or personal representative in sharing assets and also touch on relevant statutes that you need to know.
What is an Executor/Personal Representative?
An executor is a person appointed in a will to manage the distribution of a deceased person’s assets and property. An administrator is a person appointed by the court to manage the distribution of a deceased person’s assets and property when the person dies without a will. The term “personal representative” is used to refer to both executors and administrators.
Duties of an Executor/Personal Representative
The following is a list of the primary duties of an executor or personal representative in North Carolina, as outlined in North Carolina General Statutes § 28A-25:
a. Collecting and preserving the assets of the estate: The executor/personal representative is responsible for identifying and collecting all assets belonging to the deceased person, including real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and investments. They must also take steps to preserve these assets until they can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
b. Paying debts and taxes: The executor/personal representative is responsible for paying any outstanding debts and taxes the deceased person owes. This includes funeral expenses, medical bills, and any other debts listed in the will. They must also file any necessary tax returns for the deceased person and the estate.
c. Notifying beneficiaries and creditors: The executor/personal representative must notify all beneficiaries and creditors of the deceased person of their appointment and the administration of the estate. This is typically done through publication in a local newspaper.
d. Filing a petition for probate: If the deceased person left a will, the executor must file a petition for probate with the local court. This is necessary to have the will legally recognized and to begin the process of distributing the assets.
e. Managing and distributing assets: The executor/personal representative is responsible for managing and distributing the estate assets according to the terms of the will or state laws if the person dies without a will. This includes paying debts and taxes, making distributions to beneficiaries, and closing the estate.
f. Keeping records and accounting: The executor/personal representative must keep accurate records of all transactions related to the estate, including income and expenses, and file an inventory and accounting with the court.
g. Fiduciary Duties: Executors/Personal Representatives are fiduciaries, and as such, they have a legal duty to act in the beneficiaries’ best interest and avoid conflicts of interest.
h. Hiring professionals: Executors/Personal Representatives may need to hire professionals such as attorneys, accountants, or real estate agents to assist them in carrying out their duties. The executor/personal representative is also responsible for paying these professionals out of the estate’s assets.
i. Handling disputes: Executors/Personal Representatives may need to handle disputes that arise between beneficiaries or between beneficiaries and creditors. They must follow the terms of the will if any, and the laws of the state to resolve these disputes.
j. Closing the estate: Once all assets have been distributed and all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor/personal representative must file a final account with the court and request that the court closes the estate.
Picking Your Executor/Personal Representative in North Carolina
In addition to understanding the duties of an executor or personal representative, it is also important to consider who you want to appoint as your executor or personal representative.
When choosing an executor/personal representative, you should consider the following:
a. Trustworthiness: The executor/personal representative should be someone you trust to manage your assets and property according to your wishes.
b. Ability: The executor/personal representative should be able to handle the responsibilities of managing an estate, including paying debts and taxes, managing assets, and handling disputes.
c. Availability: The executor/personal representative should be available and willing to take on the responsibilities of managing the estate.
d. Neutrality: It is best to choose an executor/personal representative who is neutral and unbiased to avoid conflicts of interest and disputes among beneficiaries.
e. Location: Choosing a local executor/personal representative may be advantageous as they are more familiar with the laws and regulations of the state.
David Anderson, PLLC
It’s important to keep in mind that if you have a complex estate, you should consider choosing a professional executor, such as an attorney or a trust company. If you choose to go with a friend or family member, you should also seek advice from our firm, as we can provide guidance and help you select the best candidate for the job.
Call our North Carolina estate planning law firm at David Anderson, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation. Let us help you navigate the complex process of executor/personal representative duties.