It is important for you to be aware of the inheritance laws in North Carolina if you are a resident and find yourself a beneficiary in a will left behind by an uncle or aunt who passed away recently. These laws are important for you even if your uncle died without a will and you happen to be one of his heirs. North Carolina is one of those states where there is no tax levied on estate. However, if you inherited estate from an uncle who lived in another state where inheritance tax is applicable, you are required to pay inheritance tax as per the law. The amount of tax is proportional to the size of the estate and the closeness of relation to the deceased. In some instances, inheritance tax has been exempted by states when inheritance is small.
The probate processes
The estate left behind by the deceased goes through a court supervised procedure called probate. It is a process that aims to prevent any fraud or dispute between the heirs of an estate. The estate is freeze till the time when a judge decides that the will of the deceased person is legal and valid and that all the beneficiaries have been indentified and notified about their inheritance. The judge also oversees the process of appraisal and payment to all the creditors and the taxes due to the authorities. Once all this has been done, the judge passes an order that divides the estate equally or in a proportion specified in the will. In the end, the estate is declared as closed.
In all states of the country, creditors get a priority over the heirs or the beneficiaries when it comes to distribution of money from the estate. In North Carolina also, it is the creditors and the state agencies that are paid first before the estate is divided proportionately among the legal heirs. It is the duty of the executioner of the will to notify all creditors about the death of the owner so that they get enough time to present their claims.
Assets that do not go through probate
Not all estates go through the process of probate. If the size or the value of the estate is below a threshold value in North Carolina, it does not go through probate process. Also, not all assets go through probate. It is mostly real estate or automobiles held in the name of the deceased that are distributed among the beneficiaries through the process of probate. For example, the retirement account or the life insurance policy of the deceased go directly to the beneficiary as his name is mentioned in these documents. The household items like furniture and appliances go directly to the immediate family members according to inheritance laws of North Carolina.
If you are one of the beneficiaries in the last will left behind an old uncle or aunt, it is prudent for you to consult an experienced inheritance attorney in North Carolina to make receiving your inheritance a smooth and hassle-free exercise.