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Your Will Should Change If You Have an Omitted Child

People in Greensboro, North Carolina who get pregnant and have a child should schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible. There are specific laws in North Carolina that apply when you have created a will but have left out a child. Anytime you omit a child from your will you should go back and update the terms to reflect your new circumstances.

Omitted Child

Let’s say you live in North Carolina and, several years ago, you made a last will and testament with the assistance of your estate planning lawyer. Even though you created other devices, such as a living trust, medical directives, and powers of attorney, your will is still a foundational piece of your overall estate plan.

So, let’s say that several years go by and you get married and have a child. The will you made before your marriage will likely not address the child because you were not a parent at the time you made the document. For purposes of the will, that child is known as a pretermitted or omitted child. It’s also important to note that the omitted child laws in North Carolina address both children born to you and those you might adopt.

Omitted Child Inheritances

Depending on the circumstances of your situation, an omitted child may or may not stand to automatically inherit from you after you die. Several factors affect the outcome here, including whether you had children at the time you made your will and what provisions you have included in the document.

For example, using the situation we described above, a child born to you after you made your will stands to inherit even though the will doesn’t address the child. North Carolina law states that an omitted child under these circumstances would inherit from you in the same manner as a child who would inherit from you if you had never made a will at all. This is known as having died intestate.

As another example, let’s say you had a child, then made your will, and then adopted a child after having made the will. If the will addressed your birth child but not subsequent children, your adopted child would stand to inherit from you after you die. The child would inherit either the same amount as the child that you addressed in your will, or the amount the child would inherit from you had you died intestate, whichever is smaller.


If all this sounds needlessly complicated, it is. There is no need for you to fall back on North Carolina law to give inheritances to your children. All you have to do is make sure you review and update your will on a regular basis.

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