At this time, you may wish to retain local counsel in NC to file probate
if his wife has not done so already, or, join
yourselves to the probate if it already has been filed. Allow me to explain.Why Probate
When someone passes away, then their estate
has to be distributed. The problem is that without probate - with assets such as titled property or bank accounts - this is hard to do. This is because you cannot switch over the assets without an order from the probate court, and simply a Certificate of Death will not do. A Certificate of Death simply states that someone has passed on, but does not give you the right to really do anything in the deceased's name.
So one files probate. Once probate is filed, the Executor of the estate gets something called a Letter of Testament/Administration
(hereinafter "Letter"). This Letter will allow the Executor to switch over the assets from the deceased individual to whoever will own the property. It is like a "Power of Attorney," but from the Court. Without that Letter, there is no way to transfer titled property and switch the assets into the beneficiaries' hands.Will or No Will
If someone did not have a Will, then his estate would be distributed per default rules of succession - see here
If he did have a will, then the Will controls the distribution.
If you feel that he did have a will, then the Court will "grill" her to ensure that he did or did not. If she lies and later on it is found that he did, she can be held in contempt and admonished, fined, and/or jailed. Most tend to tell the truth when faced with this matter. Also, other places like safe deposit boxes and other matters may be searched for the will.
If there is no will, the children stand to inherit by default (see link above). May I recommend the NC Bar referral program - here
. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.
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