Estates Division

Estates Division Tel: (252) 504-4455

The Estates Division of the Carteret County Clerk’s office is located on the first floor of the Old Courthouse (with the dome or cupola on top). 

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.

Appointments are available to meet with an Estates clerk. To make an appointment please call (252) 504-4455.

For more information, please visit Administrative Office of the Courts Frequently Asked Questions.

Beginning the Estate Process. The Clerk of Court serves as the Probate Court. The purpose of probate is to distribute a person’s estate after death. Debts to the estate take priority, then any remaining assets are distributed according to the will, or to family members per North Carolina law. This information is not intended as legal advice. You may want to consult an attorney for complicated legal issues. 

Basic documentation needed to begin the process of opening an estate:
  • Original will- if applicable
  • Copy of death certificate
  • Copy of funeral bill, and any other debts owed
  • Name, age, and mailing address of heirs
  • Title and/or registration to any vehicles, mobile homes, mileage, and vehicle identification numbers (VINS)
Some other common items needed include: 
  • Bank account information, copy of signature cards 
  • Stocks and bonds, values at time of death 
  • Cash on hand 
  • Value of insurance policies, IRA’s, household furnishings, collections 
  • Interest in businesses/partnerships 
  • Value of real estate
Guardians & Guardianships.

Guardian of the Person: Has authority to decide medical care and treatment, placement, and other decisions relating to care, custody or control of the ward. No authority to deal with financial matters.

Guardian of the Estate: Has authority to control financial matters and property only. Must post a surety bond to protect the ward’s assets from mismanagement. Must also file annual accountings to be audited by the clerk’s office.

General Guardian: Has authority to make all decisions for the ward. Must also post a surety bond to protect the ward’s assets and file annual accountings with the clerk.

Adults are presumed legally competent. Before a person’s right to make basic decisions is taken away and a guardian is appointed, that person must first be adjudicated incompetent at a hearing. This proceeding is filed as a Special Proceeding, and then transferred to the Estates Division.

Guardianship is a serious responsibility. Guardians are advised to consult with an attorney on complicated legal issues. Violation of a fiduciary duty may result in contempt of court, and/or criminal prosecution.

Resources:

North Carolina Estate Procedure Pamphlet

AOC Forms - In "Category" field, Select "Estate" option, and click "Search" button.

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.