Everyone needs a will, no matter the size of your estate. If you die without a will in North Carolina, for instance, then your assets will be passed down according to the state’s “intestate succession” laws. And you may disagree with the way the state distributes your hard-earned property after your death. But you can ensure that your wishes are upheld by executing and updating your will.

What if You Die Intestate?

When you die without a will, it is called “dying intestate.” The probate court will appoint an administrator of your estate, and your assets will be distributed according to North Carolina laws. Your final wishes, no matter what they were or who knew them, may not be followed if you do not have a will.

Your Assets Must Go Through Probate

If you pass away without any estate planning measures being taken, all your assets will go through probate. That’s the process of passing to heirs according to the law. One of the biggest downsides of probate is that there may be significant tax implications for everyone involved.

Probate can also take longer to process. By avoiding probate, your beneficiaries can begin enjoying inheritance sooner.

If property or beneficiaries are in multiple states, you may have to go through probate in multiple jurisdictions. This will hold up your property and make it vulnerable to creditors and tax collectors. Every state has different probate laws.

Family Disputes Might Arise

A will gives your family specific instructions regarding who gets your assets after you pass away. They know that your wishes are being followed.

Without a will, family disputes may arise when people disagree with how things are distributed. This can cause unnecessary strife when your family should be coming together to support one another after your death.

Your Beneficiaries Might Be at Risk

A well-written will can provide benefits, trusts, accounts, and necessary planning for your children’s future. Without that plan, your children may not get what they need to support themselves now and going forward.

For example, if you had hoped to leave a college trust account to your child, that will not likely happen if you do not have a will. Instead, that money will be distributed intestate under North Carolina probate laws.

You Can’t Make Your Last Wishes Known

Above all else, the most important thing you can do with a will is make your last wishes known. You can outline your funeral arraignments and add special words to each beneficiary. You can also ensure your assets are handled the way you intend while bypassing as much government red tape as possible.

Who Gets What When You Die Intestate?

Intestate succession laws are complex. If your loved one dies without a will, you should immediately contact a probate lawyer who can help you navigate the legal issues that will undoubtedly come up.

Many people think their spouse will get everything if they die without a will. This is not necessarily true. Under the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act, your spouse will get the first $50,000 of your personal property if you die with parents but no children. The remaining personal property and real estate are split evenly between your spouse and parents.

If you have a spouse and one child or child’s descendants, your spouse receives the first $30,000 of personal property, and everything remaining is split evenly between your child and spouse.

If you have a spouse and two or more children or descendants, your spouse gets the first $30,000 of personal property and one-third of the remaining estate. The remaining personal property and real estate are split evenly among children.

If you only have a spouse, your entire estate will pass to them as it would under a will. Similarly, your estate will go to them if you only have parents surviving you.

If you have children but no spouse or parents, your property will be evenly distributed among them.

In cases where someone dies with no surviving spouse, children, or parents, other family members such as siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles may be entitled to your estate. If you have no known family, then your property and assets will be taken by the state of North Carolina.

Work With a Charlotte Will Attorney to Avoid Intestate Succession

While intestate succession does work to ensure your relatives receive your assets when you die, it will not likely be according to your wishes. You should create a valid will and update it regularly to give your beneficiaries their rightful inheritance. At Charlotte Estate Planning, attorney Ryan Stump can assure you have a comprehensive estate plan in place to prepare for the future.

Contact Ryan today at (704) 766-8836 or complete our contact form to schedule an initial consultation.

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