Intestate Succession NC: What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will?

Intestate succession in NC is a legal term used to describe the process of determining who inherits the deceased’s estate if a person dies without a will. Learn everything you need to know here.




The Basics of Intestate Succession NC section

If someone dies without having completed a will, then they have no designated beneficiaries. That individual is known as having died intestate, according to North Carolina law.

Since they have not specified who is to inherit their estate and in what quantity using a legal document, a deceased’s relatives or close friends do not have any special legal claim over any particular proportion of their assets.

As with other US states, intestate succession under NC law has special provisions for such a situation. Get in touch with our team to learn more.




An individual may die with several different assets. These may include:

  • Retirement accounts
  • Real estate
  • Jewelry
  • Other personal property

If they die without a will, no relative may claim any particular part of these assets. Instead, the laws that apply in the state where they resided govern how all property is to be divided up.

NC Intestate Succession Laws

In North Carolina, the relevant law in question is the Intestate Succession Act. A local probate court will appoint an administrator who will divide up the estate according to the provisions of the NC intestate succession laws.

In the first instance, the intestate estate of any resident of North Carolina who dies will be divided up according to the terms of their will, to the extent that it is lawful. However, where no will is available, the provisions within the NC intestate succession laws take precedence.

Writing a will is vital to avoid these complicated legal circumstances your family may find themselves in after your death. Laskody Law has extensive experience in estate, probate, and inheritance law. They will help you prepare your will or make a claim for the estate of a recently deceased family member.



The North Carolina Intestate Succession Act was first developed in 1926. Up to that point, intestate laws in NC largely followed the laws of estates as established in common law in England.

The purpose of the NC Intestate Succession Act was to allow close family members to benefit from a deceased’s estate if there was no estate planning and if they had died young or died suddenly, for example.

It also deals with more modern situations not accommodated for in previous laws in the case of:

  • Stepchildren
  • Adopted children
  • Children born out of wedlock

If a member of your family has died without a will, you may be entitled to inherit a portion of their estate, according to the terms of the NC Intestate Succession Act. Visit the Laskody Law website to find out whether you’re eligible and how you can make a claim.




The sole criteria by which a person may inherit the estate of someone if they have died intestate in North Carolina is based on the proximity of their lineage to the deceased according to the terms of the North Carolina Act. The NC rules may be different from the rules in other US states.

There is no intestate share in the North Carolina Act for someone who is not a family member, regardless of how intimate a relationship they might have had with the deceased. However, there are provisions for non-biological children deemed natural family members, such as stepchildren.




NC Intestate Succession Stepchildren

Foster children and stepchildren are not automatically considered children under North Carolina law. Therefore, unless the deceased has a will, there is no guarantee that stepchildren will receive any share of the deceased’s estate under the terms of the NC Intestate Succession Act.

However, adopted children are considered natural children under the Act, so they will receive a share of the deceased’s real estate if they have been adopted through an appropriate process and have a decedent acknowledged paternity.

If you’re a stepchild, one of several spouse children, a child born out of wedlock, or one of several legally adopted children or minor children whose parent has recently passed in North Carolina, reach out to Laskody Law for guidance on how you may be entitled to intestate inheritance.




Who Inherits When There Is No Will in North Carolina

The terms of the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act stipulate who will inherit a person’s personal property, including their real estate, when there is no valid will. Whether a particular relative of the deceased stands to gain from their will depends on the proximity of their relationship to them, how many children they had, and whether there are other family members nearby.

For example, if a single child is the only close family member who survives the deceased, they will inherit the entirety of their estate. However, if the deceased’s spouse has also survived the deceased, then the real property is shared between the two of them. The precise amount or proportion of the estate that they will inherit is specified within the Act.



Creating a will may help your estate avoid costs associated with probate, which is determining the validity and distribution of your estate. A will ensure that your plans are fulfilled and stop family disputes before they start. It makes a mistake not to plan an estate for a North Carolina state. If you die without completing one death step, you may have unnecessary legal headaches, which could lead your money and assets to people to whom you have not been. If a person died without a valid will, their property would be passed to heirs through ‘intestate succession’ according to state law and.



According to North Carolina intestacy laws, when someone dies without a valid will, their relatives will be legally legitimated to inherit a proportion of their personal property following the decedent’s death depending on how many living children survive or how many living parents there are.

  • If the deceased person is survived by the spouse and one child, or that child’s descendants, then the spouse will receive the first $30,000 of their personal property. At the same time, the remainder of their personal property will be split evenly between the spouse and the child or child’s descendants, so each inherits half.
  • Suppose the deceased person is survived by a spouse and two or more children or the descendants of those children. In that case, the surviving spouse inherits the first $30,000 of the deceased’s personal property, plus a third of the remaining personal property. At the same time, the other two-thirds of the remaining property is split evenly between the surviving spouse and the two or more children conceived or the descendants of those children — for example, one-third each if there is a spouse and two children.
  • If both spouse and parents survive the deceased, then the surviving spouse receives the first $50,000 of the deceased’s personal property. At the same time, the personal property remains are split evenly between the surviving spouse and the parents of the deceased.
  • If the deceased is survived only by their spouse, the surviving spouse receives the totality of the personal property owned by the deceased.
  • If only the parents survive the deceased, their estate is divided equally between them. Each parent will inherit half the intestate property, or it is received entirely by only one parent if they are the sole surviving parent.
  • If only the children or their descendants survive the deceased, their entire estate is shared equally among them — for example, one-third of the assets pass to each child if there are three children — is received entirely by one child if they are the only surviving child.



If none of the parents, spouse, or children of the deceased are alive at the time of the decedent’s death, the deceased’s estate, including intestate real estate and intestate personal property, is split evenly between more distant family members, which can include parents siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and other posthumous relatives.

There are no specific provisions in North Carolina inheritance law for great-great-grandchildren or relatives conceived after death, nor for funeral expenses.

The North Carolina laws apply to all forms of assets, including intestate real estate and other property, retirement accounts, intestate personal property, and all other remaining personal property.



Your will could identify an executor who would manage the conditions of your will. It should also designate a backup executor in the event an executor can’t perform the functions. Life insurance policies, retirement plans, and payable-on-death bank accounts having the name of the beneficiary can not be included in the will. You may also name the person to charge for keeping a pet after you die. I think. Some people leave money after they die so that they can continue the care of their pets. The will must stipulate the distribution and valuation of valuable property and personal items or heirlooms which possess feelings rather than real values.



If a member of your family has recently died in North Carolina and you’d like to seek legal advice on the legal process, probate court, or your eligibility to their intestate real estate, seek advice from the Laskody Law estate planning team in North Carolina.

An experienced attorney can offer legal services to help you sort through your entire life estate, including personal property, real property, and inheritance in North Carolina, as well as help you with complex problems such as immigration status, bank accounts, children’s shares, and half relatives.



Contact the estate, probate, and inheritance lawyers North Carolina residents trust today to appoint an estate administrator for intestate estates, establish an attorney-client relationship, and work through the probate process. We are ready to help you with your case.