Reviewing North Carolina’s intestate succession guidelines

Most people in Charlotte likely view the process of estate planning with a good deal of trepidation. It places them in the unenviable position of disappointing some who may expect a certain interest in their estates.

For this reason, many put off the process. Indeed, according to information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons, only 40% of American adults actually have a will. Some might even believe that if they do not write a will at all, they then allow their heirs to determine how to divide their assets amongst themselves.

Estate administration for those who die without a will

Unfortunately, that is not the case. When a person dies intestate (without a will), the state determines the dispersal of their estate. Per the North Carolina General Assembly, the state’s intestate succession guidelines mandate that a decedent’s surviving spouse receive all of their real property if they have no surviving parents or descendants. That interest lowers to one-half or one-third (respectively) if the decedent also has one surviving child or at least one surviving parents, or has two or more surviving descendants.

In terms of a decedent’s personal property, if its value does not exceed $60,000 ($100,000 if they have surviving parents but no surviving descendants), their spouse inherits it all. If it exceeds those amounts, then the spouse receives up to those amounts plus one-half the remaining balance if they have one surviving descendant or parents, or one-third the remaining balance if they have two or more surviving descendants.

Shares other than that of a spouse

If one who dies intestate has no spouse, the line of succession is as follows:

  • Descendants
  • Parents
  • Siblings (plus their descendants)
  • Grandparents
  • Paternal and maternal kindred

The state’s intestate succession guidelines apply to cases where no will exists or where a will only addresses a portion of one’s assets.