Estates Division (Historic Courthouse)
1 Court Square, Graham, NC  27253
phone: (336) 570-5204, fax: (336) 570-5201

In North Carolina, the Clerk of Superior Court serves as the ex-officio Judge of Probate Court.  The Clerk determines the validity of any presented Wills and any other matters related to the probate of an estate that requires a judicial hearing.

The purpose of probate is to distribute a person’s estate after his/her death according to the directives in the Will.  When a person dies, with or without a valid Will, the person’s probate assets and property must first be used to satisfy debts.  After all debts are paid, the remaining probate assets and property are distributed among persons named in the Will or, if the person died without a Will, distributed among the family members specified by North Carolina law.

Is probate necessary?  If the person who died did not have any property to transfer, the probate is usually not necessary.  The deceased person’s survivors may decide to open a probate if there are debts owed or if there is a need to set a deadline for creditor’s to file claims.

Does all property go through probate when a person dies?  No.  The term “probate estate” refers to any property subject to the authority of the Clerk of Superior Court.  Assets distributed outside the probate process are part of a person’s “non-probate estate”.

To access all estate forms click on the following link:  Estate Forms

For more information regarding the probate of wills, please call or visit the  Estates Division.