When an individual passes away without a will, the transfer of their property is governed by a process known as intestacy. Because there is no will, and therefore no Executor, someone must be appointed to act on behalf of the estate. North Carolina law determines who will become the Administrator of a decedent’s estate when there is no will. The law gives priority to the following individuals, in order, to serve as Administrator:
- the surviving spouse
- any devisee of the testator
- any heir of the decedent
- any next of kin of the decedent, with a person who is of closer kinship as determined by North Carolina law having priority
- any creditor of the decedent
- any person of good character residing in the county who applies to become Administrator
- any other person of good character who is not otherwise disqualified.
But before any of these individuals can serve, they must be “qualified” according to North Carolina law. Certain persons, such as convicted felons or minors, may never be qualified to serve as Administrator of an estate.
Generally, the surviving spouse is the proper and ideal person to serve as Administrator. However, when there is no spouse, there may be several individuals who have equal priority to serve as Administrator. For example, if one of several children of the decedent wishes to serve as Administrator, he or she must obtain renunciations from the other siblings before a clerk will appoint an Administrator.
The administration of an estate is a complicated matter that involves numerous moving parts. When a loved one passes away, it is best to meet with a Raleigh probate attorney as soon as possible to properly help you administer the estate.
About the Author