Estate Administration: Who Can Do It?

Wills & Estate Administration

When a loved one dies leaving a Will, the question of who will administer the Estate is usually contained in the document. Letters of Testamentary are granted to the person named as the Executor in the Will. If the named Executor or named successor Executor is unable or unwilling to serve and no successor executor is named, the Court will follow the order of priority for qualification utilized for intestate Decedent’s estates. An intestate estate is the legal term for individuals who die leaving no Will. The order of priority for who will serve when there is no named Executor willing or able to serve or when there is no will is set forth in North Carolina General Statute § 28A-4- 1(b).

N.C.G.S. § 28A-4- 1(b) provides a prioritized list, subject to the Clerk’s discretion and what is best for the Estate, of who shall be granted Letters of Administration:

a. surviving spouse;
b. any devisee of the testator;
c. any heir of the Decedent;
d. any next of kin of the Decedent, with a person who is of a closer kinship under N.C.G.S.
§ 104A-1 having priority;
e. any creditor of the Decedent;
f. any person of good character residing in the county who applies for Letters; then
g. any other person of good character who is not disqualified to serve as personal
representative under N.C.G.S. § 28A-4- 2.

Who Cannot Be Named an Executor of a Will

There are some circumstances when the person named in the Will as the Executor or the person listed above is not authorized to serve as a matter of law. Specifically, N.C.G.S § 28A-4- 2 sets forth a list of persons who would not be able to qualify as a personal representative. No person is qualified to serve as personal representative who:

1. Is under 18 years of age;
2. Has been adjudged incompetent in a formal proceeding and remains under such
3. Is a convicted felon and whose citizenship has not been restored;
4. Is a nonresident of North Carolina and has not appointed a resident process agent;
5. Is a corporation not authorized to act as a personal representative in North Carolina;
6. Has lost that person’s rights as provided by N.C.G.S. §31A;
7. Is illiterate;
8. Is a person that the Clerk of Court finds otherwise unsuitable; or
9. Is a person who has renounced their right.

Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help Name Executors of Wills

Administering an Estate can involve a significant amount of work. Individuals named as an Executor in a Will should seek legal counsel prior to attempting to qualify. A meeting with an attorney who routinely practices estate administration will assist a named Executor in understanding, prior to qualification, what type of administration will be necessary and the steps required to complete the administration of the Estate. If you have any questions about estate administration or need help naming an Executor to your will, we would be glad to help. Just give us a call at (910) 815-0085 to set up a consultation with our expert Estate Planning attorneys here in Wilmington, NC.