The Weird Way You Get Title to Inherited Real Property in NC

The Upside - No Deed Required

Did you know when you inherit real property without a right of survivorship property in North Carolina, you won't get a new deed? That's right, you will not get a brand new deed showing the property is now yours.  The good news is you don't need a deed in North Carolina because ownership transfers by means of a state statute, § 28A-15-2. The statute provides,

"[T]itle to real property of a decedent is vested in the decedent's heirs as of the time of the decedent's death; but the title to real property of a decedent devised under a valid probated will becomes vested in the devisees and shall relate back to the decedent's death, subject to the provisions of G.S. 31-39."

So, how do you prove you own inherited real estate in North Carolina? You do this by recording a copy of the will and the probate file in the County where the real property is located (if this county is different from the county where the will was probated). In this way, you give notice to others of the transfer of title. In contrast, South Carolina has completely different rules about inheriting real property.

The Downside - Two Years of Property Purgatory

Real estate doesn't need to go through probate unless it needs to be sold to pay debts. This sounds good - but don't start celebrating yet because that doesn't mean the property has cleared probate entirely. Real estate can be pulled into a decedent's estate for up to two years after the decedent's death if it is needed to pay debts. Therefore, if property is sold within two years after the decedent's death without probate and the publication of a notice to creditors, the sale can be voided. If the heir or devisee needs to refinance the mortgage or sell the property less than two years from the date of death, some form of probate may be necessary to convey a title that cannot be voided. This is one argument in favor of a trust for North Carolina property.

Take a look at our valuable estate planning bookchecklist, and articles with tons of tips and helpful information. They were written by me to help residents of North and South Carolina. You can request your free copy of our book by clicking on the above link. 


Nancy Roberts
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