Beginning a Decedent’s Estate


In order to better serve you, we operate on an appointment basis, please call 336-779-6304 to schedule an appointment.

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 North Carolina, which prohibits 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. 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. If you do not have all your information, we may need to reschedule your appointment.

  1. Call 336-779-6304 to schedule an appointment to meet with a member of the Clerk’s staff.
  2. If the decedent had a Last Will and Testament, please be sure to bring the original. A copy of the Will cannot be accepted.
  3. Death certificate (a copy is acceptable).
  4. Latest Bank/Brokerage/Mutual Fund Statements in the name of the deceased, including any joint accounts (copy is acceptable).
  5. 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 information to 779-6331 — Attention:  Estates)
  6. Titles or registration cards for vehicles, trailers, mobile homes, etc. titled in decedent’s name, including jointly owned titles, and the lien amount, if applicable (copy is acceptable).
  7. Sufficient proof to indicate the value for vehicles, trailers, mobile homes, etc. (i.e.: tax value, NADA, Kelley Blue Book, etc.) A copy is acceptable.
  8. If decedent owned stocks or bonds, not held in a brokerage account, bring certificates or bonds and the date of death value of each. A copy is acceptable.
  9. Bring deeds for any real estate, along with a recent property tax statement to verify tax value. Also bring mortgage balance information, if applicable.
  10. If the decedent had a Will, provide the names and addresses of the beneficiaries named in the Will. If there was no Will, you will need to provide the names and addresses of the decedent’s heirs.
  11. An itemized funeral bill, or a copy of the bill, showing that it has been paid or a current statement that indicates how much is still owed. Please provide proof if any amount has been paid.
  12. Ability to pay initial Court fee of up to $150.00 by either cash, certified funds, credit card or attorney trust or firm check (Note: A processing fee will be charged for the use of a credit card).


Thank you, in advance for gathering the requested information.

Click Here for a printable version.

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.

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