What Happens When I Die Without a Will in North Carolina?
When one dies without a valid will or other estate planning documents, they are said to die “intestate.” Each state has a different set of laws controlling who inherits the deceased’s property in this situation, called the “intestacy laws.” Essentially, a person who dies intestate allows the state to decide what happens to their estate. Intestacy laws create a hierarchy of related persons, describing when and how much relatives will receive should you die intestate. These rigid statutes direct the distribution of your personal property and real property that is located in North Carolina. The property division according to the intestacy laws of North Carolina is the states attempt at an equitable division, but it is impossible for them to consider you and your family’s particular and unique needs.
Surviving Spouse and No Children
In North Carolina, your surviving spouse will receive all of your real and personal property if you die without leaving any parents or lineal descendants (kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc.)
Surviving Spouse and Children
If you do leave lineal descendants, the share of your real and personal property passing to your surviving spouse becomes smaller. For instance, if you leave one line of lineal descendants and a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will take one-half of your real property and the first $60,000.00 of your personal property, plus one-half of the remaining personal property.
If, instead, you leave two lines of lineal descendants and a surviving spouse, the spouse will take one-third of your real property and one-third of your personal property over the first $60,000.00.
If you leave no lines of lineal descendants, but are survived by a parent or parents, your surviving spouse will take one-half of your real property as well as the first $100,000.000 of your personal property and one-half of the remaining personal property. When the equitable distribution under this portion of the North Carolina Intestacy Laws is calculated it will be reduced by the marital estate awarded to the spouse according to the portion of the North Carolina General Statutes dealing with the equitable distribution of marital and separate property.
Under the intestacy laws of North Carolina, the shares of your property that pass to your grandchildren children and further removed relatives pass “pro rata.” Pro Rata distribution divides the portion of the estate passing to each generational level evenly across that generational level. For example, if a portion of your estate is to pass intestate to your five grandkids, and you have three grandkids by one of your children and two grandkids by your other child, that portion of your estate will be divided into five parts and distributed to your five grandchildren evenly. Pro rata distribution becomes more complicated when you are survived by lineal decedents at several different generational levels.
Other important provisions of the North Carolina intestacy laws rigidly enumerate, for example, when children born out of wedlock do or do not inherit from their natural father, when a gift by a testator during his life to a future heir does or does not count towards that person inheritance, and many other laws governing specific and detailed intestate succession.
Why Leave Your Estate Planning to Chance?
Understand what happens to your property if you were to die intestate in North Carolina, and contact our office at (704) 608-3429 to begin your Estate Planning. If you have questions about what will happen to your estate should you die without a will or other estate planning documents, you should contact a Charlotte North Carolina Estate Planning Attorney. Call us today at (704) 608-3429 to discuss your family’s estate planning.