How Estates Affect Real Estate Closings – Topic 3: Determining Heirs

Determine heirs of decendent


After determining if the decedent had a will and that probate has been filed in the appropriate county, the next step in the process is confirming if there are any heirs or named beneficiaries. A common misconception is that only the Personal Representative for the estate needs to sign documents to sell a property. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

The decedent may have named beneficiaries to inherit the property in their will. However, if the decedent did not have a will, it may be necessary to identify and locate any heirs. An heir is a person who is legally entitled to the property of another upon that person’s death. Heirs are determined by intestate succession, which is governed by North Carolina statute, and can vary greatly depending on the decedent’s marital status and surviving family members.

It is important to note that heirs can span multiple generations and may be difficult to locate, especially if they do not live in the state (or the country!). In addition to identifying the heirs, it is also necessary to know if they are married. If so, their spouse will likely be required to sign the deed in order to waive any marital interest in the property.

This is an important step in determining who may need to sign documents for closing. Therefore, notifying the closing attorney as early as possible in the process if there are potential heirs that need to be located will help ensure that the sale goes smoothly.

Revolution Law Group is located in Greensboro, NC, and serves individuals and small businesses throughout the Triad and surrounding areas. To contact us please visit or call 336-333-7907.

The information included here is for informational purposes only, is not exhaustive of all considerations when creating documents, is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be relied upon for that purpose. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney and do not attempt to create your own documents.