Shelby, NC asked in Probate for North Carolina

Q: it's been over 2 years and there were no claims for medical bills after the public add ran for estate should we inquire?

my mom passed in 2013 and as executor i went to clerk of court and ran the adds. i have finished with the clerk of court. there was only one claim and i paid it. there were no medical bills filed against the estate so should i check into the debt when the property sells?

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

A: There are effectively three parts to your question. First, will the sale of the property at this point be valid against creditors. Second, will the creditors be able to claim the funds from the sale. And third, can you be personally liable as Executor to additional creditors.


If real property is sold by the heir(s) and the Executor after the first notice to creditors, the sale is considered binding on creditors. So a sale at this point, two years later, should be valid and no creditor can challenge its validity.


Creditors of the estate are required to come forward and present their claims by the date set forth in the notice. If they fail to do so, the Executor generally does not have to recognize their claims. So, as long as the notice you published fulfilled all the requirements, creditors who did not come forward before that time are barred from bringing it up later. The primary requirements for the notice are: that it runs once every four weeks in a newspaper of general circulation which is qualified to publish legal notices in the county in which your mother’s estate is being administered, includes your name and address as executor, and lists the final date for creditors to come forward which is at least three months from the date of first publication. See NCGS 28A-14-1(a).

So creditors would probably not have a claim against the estate itself.


In addition to publishing notice, the Personal Representative must send that notice to specific creditors. The PR is required to deliver or mail a copy of the notice to creditors to any creditors who are actually known or reasonably ascertainable by the PR. See NCGS 28A-14-1(b). The PR can be held personally liable for failing to take required actions such as this.

So, did you meet both requirements? If you (1) published notice that met the statutory requirements AND (2) had no reason to know about or suspect that there were other creditor(s), you should not be personally liable (as Executor) to unknown creditors for failing to inform them of the estate proceedings.

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