Update on the estates division. The division was being handled by two people, and has now downsized to one person handling estates. Due to the REDUCTION IN FORCE by the State of North Carolina this office had one employee to retire, and that position has been done away with. The division will still work diligently to handle all your needs, just understand that it will be a little slower now.
ESTATE MATTERS ARE BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
The Estates Division is generally responsible for all estate matters, including the probate of Wills and the settlement and administration of estates (assets and property) of decedents, incompetents, and minor children. The Estates Division is also responsible for the appointment of guardians for the estate of minors and incompetents.
Click HERE for general questions and answers about estates.
If a loved one in your family has died an Estate Questionnaire will need to be filed out prior to coming to our office. Also there is information contained in the Estate Pamphlet that will be helpful in Administrating an Estate.
If after reading the Pamphlet you know what kind of estate you have, and know what application you will need to fill out you can go to the AOC website and type in the form number, fill it out and have it with you when you arrive at the Clerk’s Office
Also the Administrative Office of the Courts has a Frequently Asked Questions that may be helpful.
For information about health care powers of attorney and living wills (health care directives), please visit the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Advanced Health Care Directive Registry. (http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/ahcdr/)
Administering an estate is a substantial responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Incorrect estate administration could result in a lawsuit or the administrator being held in contempt of court.
Estate administration is often a complex process, requiring the completion of many procedures within a required time frame; this complexity is frequently compounded by the personal loss from a decedent’s passing. Despite such difficulties, the administrator has a fiduciary duty to administer the estate competently, accurately, and fairly. While our staff will gladly assist you in answering procedural questions related to the estate administration process, the Clerk’s Office is expressly forbidden by law to offer legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek competent legal counsel to assist you.
Guardianship/Incompetency proceedings generally begin as a Special Proceeding. However, guardian of the Estate of a minor proceeding begins in the Estates Division.
There are three (3) different types of guardians that may be appointed for an incompetent person or minor child:
Guardian of the Person - These guardians have authority to decide medical care and treatment, placement, and all other decisions relating to the physical care, custody or control of the Ward. These guardians do not, however, have any authority to deal with financial matters or property.
Guardian of the Estate - These guardians have authority to control financial matters and property only. They do not have any authority to make decisions regarding the care, custody or control of the Ward. A Guardian of the Estate must post a surety bond to protect the Ward's assets from mismanagement or fraud. The Guardian of the Estate must complete Annual Accounts and produce all documentation of money coming in to the estate, receipts, bank statements, and cancelled checks to support the details of the Annual Account.
General Guardian - This type of guardian acts as both a Guardian of the Person and a Guardian of the Estate; they may make all decisions for the Ward. Since a General Guardian has financial authority, a surety bond must be posted to protect the Ward's assets from mismanagement or fraud. The General Guardian must complete Annual Accounts and produce all documentation of money coming in to the estate, receipts, bank statements, and cancelled checks to support the details of the Annual Account.
Appointment of Guardians for an Incompetent
Adults are presumed legally competent to handle their own affairs. For a person to be stripped of their right to make basic decisions, that person must first be adjudicated incompetent at a hearing before the Clerk of Superior Court. This proceeding is filed as a Special Proceeding.
If you have been appointed Guardian for a minor child or an incompetent person, you must take an Oath of office and post a surety bond to protect the Ward's estate from fraud or mismanagement. This surety bond acts like an insurance policy, and you will have to pay a premium based on the amount of protection needed. Additionally, you will need to file an Inventory of the guardianship assets within three months of receiving your Letters of Guardianship and file yearly accountings with the Clerk's office for audit. These sworn accountings are carefully audited by the Estates Division. You will need to file proof of assets held, income received, and amounts disbursed.
When you are appointed Guardian, you must sign a Notice of Guardianship Duties which explains some of the important duties of a Guardian. Guardianship is an important and serious responsibility and all guardians are strongly advised to read the applicable guardianship statutes and consider seeking competent legal counsel for additional information. Violation of a fiduciary duty may result in removal from the guardian position, being held in contempt of court, and/or criminal prosecution.
The Administrative Office of the Courts has a pamphlet on the Responsibility of Guardians in North Carolina.
If you are seeking to have someone Adjudicated Incompetent, you will need to fill out a Petition for Adjudication of Incompetence, and a Guardianship Capacity Questionnaire, and file with the Stokes County Clerk of Court.
The filing fee for this action is $150.00, and of that fee $120.00 goes to the Clerk of Court, and $30.00 goes to the Sheriff to serve the Respondent.
If the Respondent is Adjudicated Incompetent then an Application for Guardianship will need to be filled out, and filed with the Clerk of Court. The filing fee for this action is $120.00