NC INHERITANCE LAWS: WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU’VE BEEN DISINHERITED
If you have been disinherited in North Carolina, understanding NC inheritance laws is crucial to ensure that your rights are protected. Find out everything you need to know here.
THE BASICS OF NC INHERITANCE LAW
According to a 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study by Caring.com, only about one-third (32.9%) of American adults have a will. Creating a will allows the testator to leave their assets to a spouse, heirs, close relatives, and other dependents. Unfortunately, it can be a shock for some surviving family members of the deceased to learn that they have been disinherited in the will. Thankfully, there may be sufficient incentives for such a family member to contest the will under North Carolina inheritance laws.
North Carolina inheritance laws were established to protect the rights of a deceased person’s survivors, including the spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, and close relatives, to inherit property. Regardless of what the testator might have written in the will, a surviving spouse may be able to claim an inheritance and other benefits. Also, when a parent or grandparent dies, North Carolina inheritance laws afford biological children the right to claim an inheritance. On some rare occasions, grandchildren, foster children, children born to other marriages, and legally adopted children may have such rights.
At Laskody Law Office, we are dedicated to offering experienced legal guidance, advocacy, and comprehensive representation in estate, probate, and inheritance-related matters. As your legal counsel, we can review the details of your case and help you understand how NC inheritance law affects the distribution of your spouse’s or parent’s assets and represent your case in the probate court. Moreover, we can also help you figure out the best way to protect your own estate with an effective justified will. Our experienced estate administration attorneys will fight compassionately to protect your rights and explore your possible legal options to claim an inheritance.
Our law firm proudly serves individuals and families throughout all 100 counties in North Carolina, including Murphy and Manteo. If you have been disinherited or if you’re surprised that your spouse or parent didn’t leave any inheritance for you in their will, it is important that you speak with an experienced inheritance attorney immediately. Unlike other real estate lawyers from paid attorney advertising sites, our team will explore your legal options to contest the will and determine the best course of action. We can also represent you in probate court or superior court if the circumstances of your case necessitate it.
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A WILL?
The beneficiary in your will must be an executor who takes care of ensuring your will is executed correctly. The backup executor should then be called in the event that the executor cannot perform the tasks of this backup executor. Life policies, retirement savings accounts, and payable-to-death bank accounts where beneficiary names are given are not needed. You can also determine who will take care of your pets after your death. The will shall specify the distribution of valuable possessions and personal items.
SPOUSES IN NORTH CAROLINA INHERITANCE LAWS
Under North Carolina inheritance laws, spouses are given important rights and benefits. Some of these include:
When a person dies intestate (without a will), North Carolina intestate succession law will govern how intestate estate and assets will be distributed to heirs. The goal of the law is to ensure that property is divided equally among surviving heirs.
If a spouse died intestate or without a will, the surviving spouse would receive an intestate share of the entire estate, depending on whether there are children or parents. According to North Carolina General Statute Section 29-14,
- If there are no children or parents, the surviving spouse receives all the estate’s assets.
- If there is only one surviving child, the surviving spouse receives one-half of the real property, the first $60,000 of the decedent’s personal property, and one-half of the remaining personal property.
- If there are two or more children, the surviving spouse receives one-third of the real property, the first $60,000 of the decedent’s personal property, and one-third of the remaining personal property.
- If there are no lineal descendants but only surviving parents, the surviving spouse receives one-half interest in real property, $100,000, plus one-half the balance of the remaining personal property.
Although these intestate succession laws may look straightforward, they can easily become more complicated when a less-than-conventional situation arises.
If an otherwise eligible relative dies soon after the decedent, they will still receive their inheritance so long as they survive the decedent by 120 hours. On a similar note, if a relative, particularly a child, is conceived before the decedent dies but is born within ten months after the decedent’s death, they are eligible to receive an inheritance.
What happens to children conceived outside of marriage? In short, children and other eligible relatives conceived outside of marriage will still receive their share of the inheritance as long as they are considered legally legitimated under state law, the decedent acknowledged paternity, or the paternity was proven through DNA testing (so long as the child was born within one year of the decedent’s death).
ELECTIVE SHARE RIGHTS FOR A SURVIVING SPOUSE
Under North Carolina law, the surviving spouse has a right to a share of the deceased person’s estate. According to the North Carolina Statutes section 30-3.1, “the surviving spouse of a deceased person who dies domiciled in this State has a right to claim an ‘elective share’ of the decedent’s total net assets.” Hence, if a decedent tried to disinherit their spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to override the will’s terms and take an elective share in the decedent’s personal property remains.
AMOUNT OF THE ELECTIVE SHARE
Under North Carolina Statutes section 30-3.1, the duration of the marriage before the decedent’s death determines the percentage of the elective share that surviving spouses are entitled to. Here is a breakdown of the law:
- Married for less than five years – 15% of the total net assets.
- Married for between 5 years and 10 years – 25% of the total net assets.
- Married for between 10 years and 15 years – 33% of the total net assets.
- Married for 15 years or more – 50% of the total net assets.
However, the surviving spouse must file a claim for an elective share within six months after the letters of estate administration or intestate proceedings have been issued.
INHERITANCE IS TYPICALLY NOT MARITAL PROPERTY.
It defines what your individual property versus the property with your spouse is. The terms marital and separate property are defined by 50-20b. Your spouse’s personal property is yours and your spouse’s property. This is presumed not part of the marital inheritance. It is presumed not an aspect of divorce. The courts must determine what constitutes marital and divisible property and determine a more equitable division that can arise. A judge will need to determine both the amount and the share of marital property.
KEEP YOUR INHERITANCE SEPARATE
In most cases, the specific beneficiary has the right to keep their money in their own separate accounts. Refuse to use the money for the shared-owned property. If you use the money for mortgage payments or other shared expenses, this money is called a gift to marriage. Never bind inherited assets on another’s account. If you do use the inheritance with common bills, this will not automatically transform it all to marital property. Contact a lawyer for an inherited inheritance in divorce. If people own certain personal goods or personal buildings, you can also keep these possessions.
OTHER RELEVANT NC INTESTATE LAWS IMPACTING RELATIVES’ PERSONAL PROPERTY INHERITANCE
As mentioned above, if a person dies without a will in North Carolina, the state intestate succession laws will determine who will inherit the decedent’s estate. All assets and intestate personal property that you own in your name will be affected by the North Carolina intestacy laws. The following are a few additional laws that may apply when calculating the inheritance of intestate real estate and remaining personal property for relatives in North Carolina.
Furthermore, every surviving spouse in North Carolina is entitled to an allowance of $30,000 for his or her support for one year after the death of the deceased spouse.
NC LAWS REGARDING INHERITANCE FOR CHILDREN
As mentioned earlier, if a person dies with one child, the surviving spouse inherits half of the intestate real estate, the first $60,000 of the decedent’s personal property, and half of the remaining assets. Your child or descendants will inherit half of the intestate real estate and the remaining intestate personal property after your spouse inherits their share.
Keep in mind that although minor children can be beneficiaries, they cannot receive their intestate share in their own name until they reach the age of eighteen.
WILL THE STATE GET YOUR PROPERTY?
In cases where a person dies without any wills involving his or her family, their property may not reach the State’s accounts at the moment. It is very unlikely because the law intends to hand off your money even to someone you know. Your property won’t be returned to the State if you leave your spouse’s child, grandparents, parent, grandmother, family, sister, niece, nephew, uncle, or cousin.
NC INHERITANCE TAX LAWS
An inheritance tax can be described as a tax imposed or levied by the State on heirs and beneficiaries who inherit or receive assets from a decedent’s estate.
In North Carolina, you are not required to pay state estate tax or inheritance tax. However, if you inherit an estate worth over $11.18 million in standard assets such as bank accounts, you may be required to pay taxes (federal estate tax).
Certain assets, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, may be subject to additional taxes. An experienced estate planning attorney who focuses on inheritance issues can help you understand how your case may be impacted by these laws on an estate tax basis.
LAND INHERITANCE LAWS NC
Several land inheritance laws may apply when someone dies with or without a will in NC. For instance, when real estate property is owned by joint tenants, and one owner dies, it is automatically passed to the surviving owner.
Further, under North Carolina law, the ownership of real estate or land passes to heirs as of the date of the decedent’s death unless there is a need to sell the property or land to pay estate claims.
Therefore, if you have inherited property or land in North Carolina there, you may not need to do a new deed. Our NC inheritance lawyers can provide further guidance in understanding how North Carolina’s intestate real estate laws may impact your situation.
HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP YOU NAVIGATE INHERITANCE PROPERTY LAWS IN NC
Most North Carolina laws surrounding inheritance property are straightforward, and some families may be eligible to pursue the simplified probate procedure. However, if a person dies intestate, the assets distribution process will be determined by the North Carolina intestate succession process.
The intestate property proceedings under North Carolina law are not quite as simple. This is why you must consult a North Carolina inheritance lawyer if you are faced with an intestate succession situation following the death of a loved one. As your personal representative, Laskody Law will inform you of your rights, guide you through your options, and help you navigate each step of the intestate inheritance process so you can begin moving forward.
LET OUR LEGAL TEAM HELP YOU UNDERSTAND NC INHERITANCE LAW
Understanding the North Carolina inheritance law is crucial to determine what will happen to your spouse or parent’s assets if they die without a will.
The North Carolina inheritance law could help protect your rights if you were disinherited in a family member’s will. By building a strong attorney-client relationship with a skilled legal advisor, you can gain the comprehensive understanding of NC inheritance law that you need to successfully obtain the inheritance you are legally entitled to.
EXPERIENCED INHERITANCE LAW ATTORNEY IN NORTH CAROLINA
If you have been disinherited in North Carolina or if your spouse or parent died without a will, contact Laskody Law Office today to schedule a one-on-one consultation. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can offer you the detailed legal counsel, support, and advocacy you need to navigate key decisions, as well as the probate process.
We proudly serve clients in Murphy, Manteo, and throughout all 100 counties in North Carolina. Call us today to speak with our experienced attorney and receive knowledgeable guidance during this challenging time.