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Who can be a personal representative?

A personal representative will help get a person's estate through the probate process. This can be long and complicated, and not just anyone is allowed to do it.

So, what are the qualifications that need to be met? Who may ask to be a personal representative and assist in this process? Under North Carolina law, that person can be:

-- The spouse of the person who passed away.

-- A person who is named in the will. This could be a family member, but it may not, as anyone named is potentially eligible.

-- A person who is the next of kin.

-- A person who is going to get property from the estate on the basis of law, though perhaps not through the will.

-- A person of "good character" who lives in the same county and gives the clerk of the superior court an application.

-- A creditor that the person who passed away was supposed to pay back before his or her death.

Clearly, the stipulation that makes this a wide-open race is that it can be any local person of good character who applies and is granted the position. That being said, as noted, all the person can do is apply. This does not mean he or she will be approved. The spouse and family members still clearly have an edge unless there is a compelling reason not to use them or the person who passed away had no family at all.

Perhaps the best way to make sure the right person gets the job, however, is to plan ahead. People need to know what legal steps to take to set this up before passing away, taking a step out of the process and ensuring that their wishes will actually be followed.

Source: FindLaw, "North Carolina Probate Laws," accessed June 01, 2017

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