Susan Frye, Clerk of Forsyth County Superior Court
21st District of North Carolina

Beginning a Decedent’s Estate

This has been prepared to assist you in beginning an estate when a decedent was a resident of Forsyth County; however, as each estate is unique, additional information may be required. This is a legal procedure governed by the laws of the State of North Carolina, which prohibit the Clerk of Superior Court and his or her employees from acting as your attorney, so it may be in your best interest to retain legal counsel.

Upon the death of an individual, his or her property becomes either probate or non-probate property, and the Clerk of Superior Court has jurisdiction to appoint a fiduciary over the probate property of the decedent.  The fiduciary is required by law to use the property to pay the justifiable debts first, and then distribute the remainder to the legal heirs or beneficiaries of the estate.

If you have been told you will need to get a document from the Court regarding assets of a deceased person, your first step is to gather all the necessary information about the deceased person. If the decedent had a Last Will and Testament, you will need to complete an Application for Probate and Letters (form No. AOC-E-201), or if the decedent did not leave a Last Will and Testament, you will need to complete an Application for Letters of Administration (Form No. AOC-E-202). Our office can provide the above-stated forms, you can click on each link (above) or you can go to or to obtain these forms. You will then need to contact our office at (336) 779-6304 to schedule an appointment.  We are located in the Hall of Justice (Courthouse), 200 N. Main St., Winston-Salem, NC  27101 /2nd Floor / Room # 268.  Please try to arrive a few minutes early. If you do not have all your information, we may need to reschedule your appointment.

  •  If the decedent had a Last Will and Testament, please be sure to bring the ORIGINAL Last Will and Testament.  A copy of the Will cannot be accepted.
  • Death certificate.
  • The decedent’s social security number.
  • Latest Bank / Brokerage / Mutual Fund Statements in the name of the deceased, including any joint accounts.
  • Copies of signature cards for any joint bank accounts or beneficiary accounts (these can be obtained by the joint owner or beneficiary from the financial institution).  If they will not provide these, ask them to fax the signature cards to 779-6331 – Attention:  Estates
  • Titles or registration cards for vehicles, trailers, mobile homes, etc.  titled in decedent’s name, including jointly titled vehicles, and the lien amount, if applicable.
  • Tax statements to verify the value for vehicles, trailers, mobile homes, etc.  Tax values can be obtained directly by calling the Forsyth County Tax Office or visiting  their website.
  • If decedent owned stocks or bonds, not held in a brokerage account, bring certificates or bonds and the date of death value of each.
  • Bring deeds for any real estate, along with a recent property tax statement to verify tax value.  Also bring mortgage balance information, if applicable.
  • If the decedent had a Last Will and Testament, please provide the names and addresses of the beneficiaries named in the Will.  If there was no Will, you may need the names and addresses of the decedent’s next of kin.
  • An itemized funeral bill showing it’s been paid or a current statement that indicates how much is still owed.  Please provide a receipt if any amount has been paid.
  • Ability to pay initial Court fee of up to $150.00 by either cash or credit card (Note: a processing fee will be charged for the use of a credit card).

Thank you for your assistance in gathering the requested information.

State Law prohibits the Clerk’s Office staff from; providing any legal advice, providing instructions for completing forms, referring an attorney, or recommending specific ways to pursue legal action.