North Carolina Intestacy Laws to Know

In North Carolina, intestacy is the legal term for when someone dies but does not have a will. A person may also be categorized as having died intestate if the will they left behind is not valid. 

There are many reasons why a will may be invalid in North Carolina. Some of the most common reasons include: 

  • The testator is mentally incompetent
  • The testator was under the legal age when he made the will
  • The will was not signed by the testator

If a person dies intestate, the money and assets that are left behind will be divided up among their nearest relatives according to North Carolina intestate succession law. This can include anyone who is connected to the deceased through blood, marriage, or adoption. If there are no close or distant relatives left, then the estate will go to the state.

Intestate Succession in North Carolina: How Property Is Divided

Intestate succession is the process by which a person’s property is divided after they die without a will. The intestate estate can be divided into two main categories: personal property and real estate. Personal property includes things like furniture, jewelry, and cash. Real estate includes properties like houses, land, and businesses. 

As we just mentioned, under North Carolina law, this means that any property that the individual owned at the time of death is distributed according to some set rules. They are listed in brief below:

a. If your spouse is late but you have kids, the kids will inherit everything equally.

b. If you have a spouse but you have no kids and your parents are late, your spouse will inherit everything.

c. If you have a surviving spouse as well as children, depending on the number of children (and grandchildren) you have, your spouse may receive up to half of the property left behind. The rest will be divided among your kids and grandchildren.

d. If both your spouse and parents are alive, your spouse will be given a preferential share, but your parents will also likely get some of your property. In this instance, if you pass away with less than $100,000 in personal property, your surviving spouse will receive it all. If your assets are worth more than $100,000, your spouse will receive $100,000 plus half of the remainder. The rest of the intestate property is transferred to your parents.

e. If you have parents but no kids or a surviving spouse, your parents will inherit all of your property.

f. If your parents are late, you have no surviving spouse, and you also have no kids, your property will go to your siblings.

g. If your parents are late, you have no surviving spouse, you have no kids, and you have no siblings, your property will go to other members of your extended family. This includes but is not limited to your grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

h. If you have no surviving family members, and you have died intestate, all of your property will be transferred to the state. This is referred to as escheat. It is discussed in detail in the North Carolina Unclaimed Property Act.

Intestate Succession Laws in North Carolina: What Are Some Things To Note?

When considering intestate statutes in North Carolina, it is important to take to heart the following:

a. If you have a spouse and kids, your spouse will be given preferential treatment. In this instance, if you pass away with less than $60,000 in personal property, your surviving spouse will receive it all. If your assets are worth more than $60,000, your spouse will receive $60,000 plus half of the remainder. The rest of the intestate property is transferred to your child. 

If you have two children, your wife will receive $60,000 plus a third of the remainder. The rest of the intestate property is transferred to your children.

b. Your unborn children are also included in North Carolina’s intestate succession. If they were born within ten months of your death, they can get your property.

What if You Do Not Want Your Property To Be Divided According to State Law?

If you do not want your property to be divided according to state law, turn to estate planning. Estate planning can ensure that your property is divided according to your wishes, even if you are not alive when the division happens. There are several ways to achieve this through wills, trust agreements, and other legal documents. 
An estate planning attorney at David E. Anderson, PLLC can help you draft these documents and make sure they are executed in a way that is legally binding and meets your specific needs. We are experts in this area and would like to help you get started.

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