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Cost of Probate in North Carolina

Curious about the cost of probate in North Carolina? Read our guide that covers everything about North Carolina probate fees.

Byron Ricardo Batres

Byron Ricardo Batres, @ByronBatres

General Manager, Probate, Trust & Will

There is a court-supervised proceeding that’s often used to distribute property and transfer asset ownership after the death of an estate owner. It’s called probate, and is common in the state of North Carolina. Probate can happen in certain (but not all) cases. Despite it being a well-known process that’s actually fairly similar to other states, there seems to be a lot of questions about the average cost of probate in North Carolina. 

[Need help with probate? We offer helpful probate services and will work with you to find the plan that meets your needs. Learn more.]

Here’s what you need to know - the cost of probate in North Carolina will vary depending on a number of factors, like:

  • How big and complex an estate is

  • If any heirs contest anything  

  • What type of Estate Plans were set up (if any) 

  • The decision to use (or not use) a probate attorney

  • Etc.

Common Probate Fees in North Carolina

Even though probate costs can widely vary, there are a few things you can almost always expect to pay along the way, such as:  

  • Court and filing fees

  • Administrator/Executor/Probate Bonds (required by North Carolina county courts) 

  • If using, any attorney fees

  • Personal Representative (Executor) compensation - North Carolina states Executor fees are up to Superior Court clerk, but shouldn’t exceed five percent

  • Any professional fees needed

  • Etc. 

Common Questions About Probate in North Carolina

How Long Does Probate Take in North Carolina?

In the state of North Carolina, probate will take a minimum of four months. Complicated estates can take much longer, though.  

How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in North Carolina?

Because probate attorney fees in North Carolina will vary, it’s difficult to give an exact estimate. Most probate attorneys bill hourly, and fees can often run anywhere from $2,000 - $10,000 or more, depending on how complex the estate is.  

How to Avoid Probate in North Carolina?

Some people would rather avoid probate, and with good reason. Probate can be messy, complicated, time-consuming and stressful. You could potentially avoid probate in North Carolina using any (or all) of the following strategies:

  • Establish a Revocable Living Trust

  • Titling property and assets as: Community Property With Right of Survivorship, Tenancy by the Entirety, or Joint Tenancy  

  • Assign beneficiary designations (as well as contingent)

  • Open POD and TOD accounts/assets when possible (Payable/Transfer on Death)

Estates that don’t meet or exceed North Carolina’s “small estate” threshold can generally avoid probate (or at least go through a streamlined, minimal version of it). 

What is Considered a Small Estate in North Carolina?

If an estate is valued at less than $20,000 ($30,000 if not counting any spousal allowance when the only heir is a surviving spouse) an Affidavit may be used after a 30-day waiting period. If a surviving spouse gets everything, a summary probate proceeding is allowable. 

Who Pays Probate Fees in North Carolina?

You don’t have to stress about how to pay for probate. The costs and probate lawyer fees in North Carolina are paid by the estate.