Apex, NC asked in Estate Planning for North Carolina

Q: Do you need trusts for real estate in North Carolina?

I heard that you do need to worry about putting real estate (personal home, rental properties) into trusts in NC, that it will still easily pass to heirs (children, not talking about spouse) without having to do trusts? Is this true / recommended if you are trying to avoid probate ?

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

A: Generally, in North Carolina, title to real property vests in your heirs or devisees as soon as the owner passes away. So, if you have a will naming your children as devisees of your real property, your children will be considered the owners of the property as soon as you pass away. If you die without a will, whoever your heirs are under NC's Intestacy Statute will be the new owners. This should be your surviving spouse, if any, and/or your children.

In order to change the deed into their names and/or sell the property, your children will need to probate your will in the county in which you lived. In North Carolina, this is often simple and relatively inexpensive. There is usually no need to create a trust just to avoid this process. It typically isn't cost effective or necessary.

Keep in mind that it is important to create a will to make sure that all of your assets are distributed correctly, rather than relying on the Intestacy Statute. Also, none of the above applies if you own your real property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or as tenants by the entireties with another person: if that is the case, the other owner (rather than your heirs) will receive your interest automatically upon your death.

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