Matthews, NC asked in Probate for North Carolina

Q: In North Carolina. My mom passed away yesterday. She has no will.

As the closest relative (my sister too), are I/we required to become the administrator(s)? We had a terrible relationship with her and want nothing to do with this. Will NC force us to be involved as the next of kin? Can we simply do nothing? And if we are not involved how does all the end needs get fulfilled - even her cremation. My mom has no large assets, just a bank account with a few thousand dollars. She rented on apartment and lived on SS. If I step in and pay for her cremation, I doubt I will even get reimbursed from what I have read so far - money first goes to debtors. Thanks for any help.

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

A: First of all, if you pay for your mother's cremation, you may be able to get reimbursed from her estate before other creditors get their share. North Carolina law provides a priority list indicating which creditors get paid first, and burial/cremation expenses are third on that list. See N.C.G.S. § 28A-19-6. However, that would require that you open and administer your mother's estate in order to get reimbursed, which may not be worth the hassle to you.

There is no requirement that an heir has to administer their relative's estate in North Carolina. You can certainly leave her estate alone and do nothing about it. It is possible that a creditor or some other person could step up and qualify as administrator after a certain period of time, if you decide not to, but that doesn't often happen in cases where the person owned very little.

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