Dying without a Will is legally referred to as dying intestate. Broken down, this means that your liabilities and assets are handled by the specific state laws of intestate succession. The heirs of your estate are determined by these laws and enforced by the probate court to figure out who is entitled to what. Note that intestate succession does not affect funds and/or assets with a beneficiary named or those with a co-owner.
So, who would get what and how?
- An administrator (similar to an executor) will be appointed to handle the process of determining how your estate is broken up. First and foremost, the deceased’s funeral expenses, debts, and court/administrative fees will be paid for. The administrator will then move on to distributing the deceased’s assets to his or her heirs.
- Who you are survived by determines how your estate is distributed. Just because you have a spouse, the entirety of your estate is not guaranteed to go straight to them. Parents, children, or grandchildren may also be entitled to a portion of your estate.
- If you have no family, the state will get your property, referred to as the escheatment process. It is relatively uncommon for this to happen because the laws are designed to distribute your property to anyone even remotely related to you.
If you want to know exactly what is stated in North Carolina’s intestate succession laws, you can read more about them here: North Carolina General Statutes § § 29-1 to 29-30.
Why is it important that I have a Will?
At first look, it may appear that the rules are fairly and reasonably set out. However, there can be issues that arise if you are a part of a blended family, have minor children, want to leave any charitable gifts or keep any heirlooms in the family, just to name a few.
To ensure that everything is distributed and handled exactly the way you want it after your death, it is best to have a will ready and up-to-date. Call Rech Law, P.C. today for help with all of your estate planning needs!