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What Happens if You Die Without a Will in North Carolina?

Have you decided to create a will? A will allows you to choose how you want to distribute your estate once you have passed. Having a will means you decide who gets your property and money.

Wills can:

  • Explain how to distribute your assets.
  • Name an executor to collect and distribute funds with court supervision,
  • Name guardians for your children,
  • Forgive your debts.

Dying Intestate

If you die without a will in the state of North Carolina, you die intestate, which means the court will decide how to divide your estate without your input. Once your expenses have been paid, the remaining assets in your estate are divided according to North Carolina’s intestate succession laws. Your property will be divided among your closest relatives, usually your spouse and children. If you are not married and don’t have children, then your property is distributed to your parents, if they are alive. If not, your property will be distributed to your siblings, and possibly also to your nieces and nephews.

Instead of having a friend or family member designated by your will to decide the fate of your assets, an unknown court-appointed administrator will be appointed.  Also, North Carolina law decides the fate of your children!  In other words, they will decide who takes your children and manages your money for them and this may not be who you want to appoint!  Thus, it is vital that you speak for yourself and that you use a will to name a guardian if you have children.

No Family

If you have no living family members, your estate may go to the State of North Carolina, to be held in a fund that may be able to be claimed by a distant family member in the future, if they are aware of the fund and make a claim. While deciding how to administer your estate, the court will also appoint an administrator, similar to an executor, who will pay debts and any funeral or court expenses.

Contact us at Kelly & West and we will answer any questions you have about creating a will in North Carolina.

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