When a death has occurred, there is usually a need to administer the estate of the decedent. In the state of North Carolina this process is handled through the office of the Clerk of Superior Court. In some instances it may be necessary to contact the family attorney. All estates are not the same and not all estates will require the same administration. Some small estates may not require administration.
The Estates Clerk will provide many of the forms that are required. Versions of these forms, as well as an Estate Procedures Pamphlet are available online at www.nccourts.org/forms.
The following is a general guideline for starting the process of administering an estate.
- Contact the Carteret County Estates Office or contact the family attorney to schedule an appointment.
- Locate and collect important papers, such as the Will and codicils if any, certified copies of the death certificate, deeds, stock certificates, bonds, vehicle titles, life insurance policies, certificates of deposit, bank books and statements for checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, income tax returns, etc.
- If there is no Will, determine who will be the administrator and bond requirements; ascertain the heirs, who may collectively designate the administrator and agree to waiver of bond.
- Notify the IRS of the personal representative’s existence and address so the IRS will send any information concerning the decedent’s taxes directly to the personal representative; also notify the IRS that no further estimated tax payments will be made on behalf of the decedent.
- Notify the Post Office and have decedent’s mail forwarded if necessary.
- Have appraisals made of property as necessary.
- File decedent’s final income tax return by April 15th of the year following the year of death.
If there are multiple beneficiaries or heirs, make every effort to keep them informed of your actions on their behalf and consult with them if possible, especially if there is no Will. You should keep copies of all transactions with the Clerk of Court, the attorney, insurance companies, banks and other persons that relate to the resolution of the estate. There are potential tax implications and tax advantages that should be discussed with legal counsel or an accountant.
If decedent was a veteran, he/she may be entitled to a VA burial allowance. Veteran and non-veteran decedents may also be entitled to a Social Security death benefit. You may contact these offices as well as other frequently needed agencies at the following numbers.
- Carteret County Estates Office: 252 504-4455
- Carteret County Veterans Service Office: 252 728-8440
- Social Security Administration: 800 772-1213
- SSA New Bern, NC Office: 888 491-1885
- Federal Retirees Information Office: 888 767-6738
- Federal Retirees Local Contact (Bruce Brill): 252 726-3119
- Craven County Estates Office: 252 639-3024
- NC Department of State Treasurer - Retirement Systems Division: 877 733-4191