What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

At Wilson Law PA, we know that having a Will gives you peace of mind. It’s important to have these documents in order to make an already difficult time easier for the people you leave behind. That being said, we also know it is difficult to think about our demise and many people never get around to creating a Will before their death. This creates extra work for heirs and your assets may not be divided in the way that you intended.

Passing on without a will is known as “intestate.” This means that your estate will be distributed according to the laws in the state in which you resided at the time of your death. Intestacy laws vary by state. In North Carolina, only assets that would be passed down through a Will are affected. Typically, this means property and assets that are in your name only. If you have a living trust, joint bank account with a right of survivorship, life insurance or a retirement account with a co-owner, these assets will automatically be transferred to the remaining person.

Who Gets What
In North Carolina, much of what happens to your assets depends on whether you are married or have children. If you die and are survived by:

● A spouse, but no child – your spouse inherits everything.
● Children, but no spouse – your children inherit everything
● A spouse and one child – your spouse inherits half of your intestate real estate and a portion of your property. Your child receives the remaining half.
● A spouse and several children – your spouse receives a third of your intestate real estate and a portion of your property. The children get a third and the remaining property.
● A spouse, no children and parents – your intestate property is split between your spouse and your parents.
● Parents, but no spouse or children – your parents inherit everything.
● Siblings, but no spouse, children or parents – your siblings inherit everything.

There are exceptions to these rules – If your estate’s value is $60,000 and under and you have a spouse and a child, your spouse will receive everything. There is a similar law if you have parents and a spouse, but the amount is increased to $100,000 or less.

If you die and do not have any immediate family, your estate will go to the next living relative, no matter how distant. A common misconception is that if you die without a will the state would inherit your property in these cases, but this is extremely rare.

Preparing a Will may make you nervous, but the experienced attorneys at Wilson Law PA are here to help you through setting up this important document. We believe you should have the final say in what happens to your property and assets when you die, not the state. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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