Sara W. Harrington

Sara W. Harrington

Probate and Estate Planning Attorney
  • Estate Planning, Probate
  • North Carolina
Claimed Lawyer ProfileQ&ASocial MediaResponsive Law

I'm experienced in helping people during very stressful times of life.

For 14 years I primarily practiced consumer bankruptcy law and during that time I worked with clients going through every stage of life and experience.

I've taken what I learned from my bankruptcy practice and applied it to helping people plan for the future and follow the wishes of loved ones.

Let me assist you in ensuring your wishes are followed regarding how you would like to be treated during illness, at end of life, who you would like to speak on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself, and how you would like your assets distributed when you die.

I also assist families carry out the wishes of deceased loved ones by administering wills.

Please call 919-903-9442 for a consultation.

Practice Areas
  • Estate Planning
  • Probate
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
North Carolina
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  • English: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
Law Office of Sara Harrington
associate attorney
Harrington, Gilleland, Winstead, Feindel, & Lucas
Campbell Law School
J.D. (2002)
Activities: Campbell Law Observer, case summary writer and advertising manager
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Wake Forest University
B.A. (1994) | English major; Art minor
Activities: Old Gold and Black student newspaper editorial board, publication staff photographer
Wake Forest University Logo
Mentor of the Month
Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina
September 2012
Young Careerist
Business and Professional Women, Raleigh chapter
Gold Award
Girl Scouts of the USA
Professional Associations
North Carolina State Bar
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North Carolina Bar Association
member, former Member, Lawyer Referral Service Committee
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District Bar of the 15B Judicial District of North Carolina
- Current
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District Bar of the 11A Judicial District of North Carolina
member, past president
Activities: past president
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National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
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Articles & Publications
Advice for Customers of Businesses in Bankruptcy
Sanford Herald Voice of Business
Why You Should Care about Changes in Bankruptcy Law
Fifty Plus
Speaking Engagements
Financial Pitfalls for the Unemployed, First Baptist Church, Sanford
Sanford Jobseekers
Social Media Savvy for Teens, Lee County Young Commissioners, McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center
Social Media Savvy for Teens, Lee County Young Commissioners, McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center
Social Media Savvy for Teens, Lee County Young Commissioners, McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center
Social Media Savvy for Teens, Lee County Young Commissioners, McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center
Certified Mediator 2002-2008
North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission
Legal Answers
24 Questions Answered

Q. In the state of NC does an Executor to an estate ,bylaw have to inform beneficiaries if they are named in a will
A: Once the estate is filed with the Clerk of Court, the Clerk sends out notices to all the heirs listed in a will. The executor needs to be in contact with the heirs to handle the transfer of property left to them, but the official notice to heirs per statute, comes from the Clerk of Court. If you have questions about whether you are named in a will, you can contact the executor, look up the will at the Clerk's office or call the Clerk's office to ask if you are listed as an heir.
Q. How long does an executor have to file with clerk of court in North Carolina
A: An executor named in a will may, at any time after the death of the testator, apply to the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county in which the testator died, to have the will admitted to probate. However, if no executor applies to have the will proved within 60 days after the death of the testator, anyone named in the will to inherit, or any other person interested in the estate, may apply, upon 10 days' notice to the executor.
Q. Can I take my dad's SSI payment out of the bank the deposit was on May 31rst 2019 and he passed away on June 13th 2019
A: As the administrator of your dad's estate, you should open an estate account to deposit the SSI check and any other funds owned by your father. From the estate account, you will distribute funds to heirs, pay court fees and pay the bills of the estate.
Q. Is there a database of wills recorded by lawyers?My stepmom now claims there is no will. Before death, a will spoken of.
A: There is no database to find out whether someone had a will and, if so, who drafted it. You contact local attorneys' offices, let them know your father is deceased and see if they have a will for him on file. You can also go to the Clerk's office with his death certificate and see if they have his will in their vault. If your father's financial accounts listed her as the beneficiary or TOD, then she would receive those assets outside of the estate -- whether or not there was a will. Regarding real estate and personal property, such as vehicles, furniture, cash on hand, money owed to him, accounts without a named beneficiary, etc., the laws of intestate succession require that those assets be divided between the spouse and the children. The percentage is determined by the number of children. I recommend you contact an attorney in the county where your father lived and consult with them.
Q. Is there an AOC form to petition for an elective share? Form #? Sample petition?
A: I believe the form you are looking for is AOC E-100. APPLICATION AND ASSIGNMENT YEAR’S ALLOWANCE The link is: This form allows the surviving spouse to apply for the first $60,000.00 of the estate. Child(ren) who meet the following criteria are entitled to receive an allowance of up to $5,000 from the estate: "(1) under the age of 18 years, including an adopted child or a child with whom the widow was pregnant at the death of her husband; (2) a child who is less than 22 years of age who is a full-time student in any educational institution; (3) a child under 21 years of age who has been declared mentally incompetent; (4) a child under 21 years of age who is totally disabled; (5) a person under the age of 18 years who resided with the deceased parent at the time of death and to whom the deceased parent or the surviving parent stood in loco parentis." G.S. 30-17 and G.S. 12-3(16), (17)
Q. What next with NC Assignment of Spousal Years Allowance form?
A: I'm sorry for your loss. You're off to a good start by filing the Spousal Allowance form. If your wife listed you as the beneficiary (also called TOD or POD) on her financial accounts or if you had a joint account held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", the financial institutions should transfer the funds to you and it will pass outside the estate. This should not be counted against your Spousal Allowance. If you were not the beneficiary and have listed your wife's bank account on the Spousal Allowance, that will give you the authority to close her account and transfer the money into your account. You only need to file for an EIN if the estate needs to file a tax return and that is only triggered if the estate will generate more than $600 in annual income. When more checks come in or you remember more assets, you can amend the existing Spousal Allowance form. Many Clerk's offices allow you to copy the previous Spousal Allowance form and add in the new assets to create the Amended Application, but it varies depending on the local rules.
Q. No will, no surviving spouse, all seven children are deceased, they have children, are the children the only heirs?
A: The North Carolina laws of Intestate Succession determine who will inherit when there is no will. If there is no surviving spouse or children, the next in line are grandchildren. If some of the grandchildren have died before the person of whom you are speaking, then their children would inherit as well. Spouses of heirs do not inherit through intestate succession. The relevant law N.C.G.C. 29-15 states that "if the intestate is survived by two or more children or by one child and any lineal descendant of one or more deceased children, or by lineal descendants of two or more deceased children, they shall take as provided in G.S. 29-16." N.C.G.C. 29-16 states that "to determine the share of each surviving grandchild by a deceased child of the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivision of this subsection, divide that property by the number of such surviving grandchildren plus the number of deceased grandchildren who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate."
Q. I am the oldest of four adult children to two divorced parents. Am I their closest next of kin?
A: You and your siblings are equally related to your parents. Determining who is given a power of attorney is determined by the person over whom the power will be exercised, if that person is competent and over 18. If the person is believed to be incompetent and has no durable power of attorney (to handle the person's financial affairs) or health care power of attorney (to handle medical care), then any person, including any state or local human services agency or healthcare provider (through its authorized representative) may petition the Clerk of Court for guardianship. The person for whom you are petitioning for guardianship is entitled to be represented by counsel of his own choice or by an appointed guardian ad litem. Petitioning for guardianship should be a last resort. I advise you to talk with an attorney in your area before you take any action.
Q. My ex died owing over 25,000 in child support. My son is now 18. He died with nothing, will SSA pay benefits?
A: As you know, once a supporting parent has died, future support payments die with him. However, his estate will owe the past-due amount. Once his estate has been opened for probate you or even state child support enforcement agency may file a claim against his estate with the probate court for back child support. The estate will generally have to pay the child support obligation before assets are disbursed to those named in his will. I understand that you say he owned nothing, but if assets are found and there is no executor, your son can open the estate. If no one opens an estate for your ex within 60 days of his death, you or any other interested party could open the estate. Because your son is over 18, he would need to be a student or have a disability in order to qualify for Social Security death benefit.
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