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What are the duties of an estate administrator?

When administering an estate in North Carolina, the personal representative has certain specific duties to perform. These include all of the following:

-- Gather assets of the deceased.

-- Pay out claims to legitimate creditors.

-- Make the disbursements to settle the estate and distribute remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries.

Sometimes a personal representative must liquidate assets and real property of the estate to satisfy debts. However, he or she must first file a petition with the Clerk of Superior Court in order to get permission to sell the real estate. But if the decedent's will specifies that the estate administrator can sell off the real property, it's not necessary to obtain this approval.

Personal representatives have to then advertise in the newspaper for any claims from creditors against the decedent's estate. It must be published in a paper that is "qualified to publish legal advertisements" in the same county that the estate is administered, although there are other options if no newspaper qualifies.

There are many other duties and obligations for the person named as administrator of an estate; it is a considerable responsibility that should never be undertaken lightly. In some cases, the personal administrator elects to retain an estate administration attorney to assist with the many steps involved in the process.

This can be a very wise move, as the attorney is able to oversee the administration of the estate and ensure that everything is done according to the letter of the law. Additionally, when a personal representative is a family member of the deceased and any heirs or beneficiaries, having legal counsel can avoid any appearance of impropriety on the part of the estate administrator.

Source: North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, "Estate Procedures for Executors, Administrators, Collectors By Affidavit, and Summary Administration," accessed March 18, 2016

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