(a) A special proceeding may be instituted before the clerk of the superior court by any person claiming any money, or part thereof, paid into the clerk's office under G.S. 45-21.31, to determine who is entitled thereto.
(b) All other persons who have filed with the clerk notice of their claim to the money or any part thereof, or who, as far as the petitioner or petitioners know, assert any claim to the money or any part thereof, shall be made defendants in the proceeding.
(c) If any answer is filed raising issues of fact as to the ownership of the money, the proceeding shall be transferred to the civil issue docket of the superior court for trial. When a proceeding is so transferred, the clerk may require any party to the proceeding who asserts a claim to the fund by petition or answer to furnish a bond for costs in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00) or otherwise comply with the provisions of G.S. 1-109.
(d) The court may, in its discretion, allow a reasonable attorney's fee for any attorney appearing in behalf of the party or parties who prevail, to be paid out of the funds in controversy, and shall tax all costs against the losing party or parties who asserted a claim to the fund by petition or answer. (1949, c. 720, s. 1.)