North Carolina Statute of Limitations for Probate


During probate, the personal representative, or executor, works with the probate court to administrate and distribute the deceased’s property. This often involves valuing assets, compiling inventories and notifying heirs and creditors. If an heir or creditor has a claim against the estate, it must be brought within the relevant limitation period or it is barred.

Executor Duties

After a person dies, the executor or a close friend or family member must petition the probate court to open the decedent’s estate. The court bestows authority onto the executor to complete his duties. Those duties include notifying the deceased’s heirs and creditors about his death. The notification plays an important factor as to when the statute of limitations begins to run on claims against the estate.

Will Contests

A caveat is the term for a will contest in North Carolina. When a person files a caveat, she is seeking to challenge some aspect of the will. One common example occurs when a beneficiary under the will would have received a greater inheritance if the will was invalidated. According to North Carolina General Statute section 31-32, the interested person must file her caveat at any time during the probate or within three years after. North Carolina laws require the person challenging the will to be at least 18, of sound mind and not imprisoned.

Claims Prior to Decedent’s Death

North Carolina probate procedure requires the personal representative to notify creditors about the deceased’s passing. This allows the creditors to make valid claims against the estate. The executor must publish notice of the death in a newspaper of regular circulation for at least four weeks; he must also personally contact any known creditors of the deceased. For claims that arose prior to the deceased death, the creditor must bring it at least three months from the date of first publication or notice.

Claims After Decedent’s Death

Claims that arise at or after the decedent’s death are generally forever barred, according to North Carolina General Statute section 28A-19-3. There are a few limited exceptions. For example, if the claim was based on a contract with the personal representative, it can be brought within six months after the contract’s due date. Because filing a claim against an estate requires legal proceedings and analysis, readers should seek independent legal advice before proceeding.

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