28A-22-3. Special proceeding against unknown heirs of decedent before distribution of estate.

If there may be heirs, born or unborn, of the decedent, other than those known to the personal representative and whose names and residences are unknown, before distributing such estate the personal representative is authorized to institute a special proceeding before the clerk of superior court for the purpose of determining who are the heirs of the decedent. All unknown heirs of the decedent shall be made parties thereto and shall be served with summons by publication as provided by G.S. 1A-1, Rule 4. Upon such service being had, the court shall appoint some discreet person to act as guardian ad litem for said unknown heirs and summons shall issue as to such guardian ad litem. Said guardian ad litem shall file answer on behalf of said unknown heirs and the guardian ad litem may be paid for services of the guardian ad litem such sum as the court may fix, to be paid as other costs out of the estate. Upon the filing of the answer by said guardian ad litem all such unknown heirs shall be before the court for the purposes of the proceeding to the same extent as if each had been personally served with summons. Any judgment entered by the court in such proceeding shall be as binding upon said unknown heirs as if they were personally before the court and any payment or distribution made by the personal representative under orders of the court shall have the effect of fully discharging such personal representative and any sureties on the personal representative's official bond to the full extent of such payment or distribution as ordered. (1957, c. 1248; 1973, c. 1329, s. 3; 2011-344, s. 4.)