Pineville, LA asked in Probate for North Carolina

Q: My mother died in NC, no will and she had 5 properties in her name. I do not want them and I am heir what do I do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Catherine E Bruce
Catherine E Bruce
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: I assume that you mean that you want to sell the properties and collect the proceeds. As long as (1) the properties were not owned jointly by your mother and another person (i.e. not as "joint tenants with right of survivorship" or "tenants by the entireties") and (2) you are entitled to receive your mother's real property under NC's Intestate Succession Statute (see NCGS Chapter 29 Article 2), you are now technically the owner of her properties. Before selling the properties, however, you should open your mother's estate and take the steps that you are required of the Administrator (particularly publishing a notice to creditors in a local newspaper). Then you can sell the properties and keep the proceeds. Note that if you are not the sole heir to your mother's real estate, you will need the other heirs' agreement to sell the properties. You will also need the signature of the Administrator of your mother's estate on the deed, whether that is yourself or someone else.

If you actually meant that you don't want anything to do with the properties or proceeds at all, my answer would be different:

There is no requirement for an heir to open an estate in NC. If you do not want any of your mother's property at all, you have the option of taking no action. Someone else (such as another heir or a creditor) may apply to open your mother's estate, and you will be notified if/when that happens.

If you do want to administer the estate (for example, if you want other property besides the real property), you can renounce your interest in just the properties. NCGS Chapter 31B gives heirs the right to renounce all of part of their interest in an estate by filing a written renunciation with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county in which the estate is being administered. If you want to go this route, you should file this disclaimer within 9 months of your mother's death to avoid adverse estate/gift tax consequences. And you should be careful to limit the renunciation to just the properties, so it isn't deemed a renunciation of all of your interest in your mother's estate.

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