FAQs About Probate

Who Can Serve as Executor in North Carolina?

by Rania Combs

What is an Executor?

An executor, sometimes called a”personal representative,” is a person or entity a testator appoints in a Will to administer the testator’s estate.

The role of an executor is to carry out a testator’s wishes. After initiating a probate proceeding and receiving Court authorization to act on behalf of the estate, an executor has a duty

  • to collect, inventory, and manage the property of the estate;
  • pay the valid claims of creditors and tax collectors;
  • pursue any debts owed to the estate; and
  • distribute the remaining assets to testator’s beneficiaries as instructed in the Will.

Qualifications of Executor

Every state has rules about who can serve as an executor. In North Carolina, an executor must be 18 years or older, literate, and of sound mind.

But someone who meets those requirements does not automatically qualify to serve as an executor. The North Carolina Statutes disqualify certain individuals and entities from serving as an executor:

  • A convicted felon is not qualified to serve as an executor unless they have served their sentence and their civil rights have been restored. In North Carolina, an individual loses all civil rights when convicted of a felony. Civil rights are automatically restored upon “unconditional discharge” of a sentence or unconditional pardon.
  • Nonresidents are also not qualified to serve as an executor unless they have appointed a resident in the state to accept service of process in all actions or proceedings with respect to the estate.
  • A court will not appoint someone who was previously designated as executor of the estate, but renounced that office or otherwise chose not to carry out his or her duties.
  • Additionally, corporations cannot serve if the state has not authorized them to act as executors in the state.

Who Administers the Estate if There is no Will?

A person who dies without a Will is said to have died intestate. If someone dies intestate or does not name an executor in a Will, the clerk of superior court will authorize a person who qualifies as an administrator of the estate in the following order:

  • The surving spouse of a decedent;
  • A beneficiary named in the Will;
  • An individual who is an heir under the intestacy statutes;
  • Any next of kin;
  • A creditor who whom the state decedent became indebted before death;
  • Any person of good character to applies to be administor.

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts provides a comprehensive brochure that outlines the responsibilities of executors and administrators in North Carolina. You can locate it here: Estate Procedures for Executors, Administrators, Collectors By Affidavit, and Summary Administration.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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