Many, but not all, people who have a sizeable estate have a will. However, what if you died intestate, that is, without a will? In this situation the court will designate someone to serve as the administrator of your estate, referred to as a “personal representative” under North Carolina law. Certain persons can fulfill this position, and certain persons cannot.
Who is qualified to serve as personal representative?
If you die intestate, the state determines who can fulfill this role. In priority order, this includes:
- Your surviving spouse;
- Anyone who stands to inherit per the laws of intestate succession;
- Your next of kin;
- Any creditor that you owed money to before you died;
- Any person of good character who lives in the county where your estate is being probated and who applies for the position with the Clerk of Superior Court
If you have a specific preference on who should serve as personal representative of your estate, you should include this preference in your will.
Who is not qualified to serve as personal representative?
If you died without a will there are certain categories of persons that cannot serve as a personal representative. They include:
- Anyone who the court has adjudged incompetent and remains disabled;
- Convicted felons who no longer have citizenship;
- Non-residents who have not been appointed a resident of the state for estate administration purposes;
- Corporations who do not have the authority to serve as a personal representative in North Carolina;
- Anyone who has committed an act under North Carolina law that constitutes a forfeiture of the right to serve as a personal representative
- Anyone who cannot read or write;
- Anyone the Clerk of Superior Court deems unsuitable to fulfill the role of personal representative
As you can see, the court has standards regarding who can serve as a personal representative. Not everyone is qualified to fulfill this role. The court wants to ensure that the person appointed as personal representative can fulfill the duties of this role.