When you don’t make a will or living trust, your estate passes to your intestate heirs upon your death. These are the people, usually close family members, whom the law identifies as entitled to inherit from you. So, do you know who your intestate heirs are?
The North Carolina intestacy statutes can actually be quite complicated. If you’re married with no children when you pass away, but your parents survive you, then your spouse and your parents are your intestate heirs. The exact proportions in which they inherit are determined by the value of your estate and the type of property you own.
If you’re married and you have children, your estate will be divided among your spouse and your children.
What if you’re not married when you pass away? In this situation, North Carolina law provides as follows:
- Your estate will pass first to your children or their descendants;
- If you didn’t have any children, then your estate will pass to your parents;
- If you had no children and your parents predecease you, your estate will be divided among your brothers and sisters;
- If you leave behind no parents, children or siblings, then your estate will pass to your more distant relatives, until your family tree is exhausted; and, finally,
- If you leave behind no living relatives, your estate goes to the State of North Carolina.
If you want to find out exactly how your property would be distributed if you died without an estate plan, you can take a look at this intestacy calculator.
Of course, the best way to ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes is to get the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, and make sure you have a valid estate plan in place.