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North Carolina Estate Planning

Death isn’t a pleasant topic to talk about but it’s an important one when planning for the future. You’ll need to ensure that your debts and taxes will be taken care of after you die, first and foremost. Then you have to think about your family and what you leave behind for them.

There are many tools to help you with estate planning in North Carolina. Whether you live in Charlotte, Greensboro or Raleigh, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo’s North Carolina estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family’s future and connect with a qualified local attorney.

North Carolina Wills

Certain legal contracts like life insurance or business deals may already lay claim to some of your financial or property assets. When you die, those portions of your estate will transfer to the beneficiaries of those contracts. But what about the rest of your estate?

A will is one of several legal documents you can use to assign the rest of your estate to your family, friends and preferred charities. By creating a will, you can ensure that the right assets transfer to the right people when you die instead of relying on North Carolina’s intestate succession laws to distribute your estate.

To create a will, you must be of sound mind and 18 years of age or older. There are three types of wills you can create in North Carolina:

  • Attested written wills—Your standard, type-written will signed by you (the testator) or a representative and two witnesses.
  • Holographic wills—A will made in your own handwriting and signed by you. Holographic wills don’t require witnesses or their signatures.
  • Nuncupative wills—A will made orally before two witnesses upon your deathbed or in your “last sickness.”

You can’t name new beneficiaries in your will for assets that are already promised to beneficiaries in other legal contracts or documents. If you want to change any part of or revoke your will, you can either write codicils to make the changes or destroy the will to revoke it.

North Carolina Intestate Succession

What happens to your unclaimed estate when you die without a will (also known as dying “intestate”)? North Carolina’s intestate succession laws govern how your estate will be divided and distributed to living family members. If you have no living family members, the state will escheat (“claim”) your estate.

When you die, your estate will pass onto your relatives in the following succession and division of shares:

  1. 100 percent of your estate to your surviving spouse if you have no surviving parents, children or lineal descendants of your children.
  2. 50 percent shares of your real property to both your spouse and one surviving child or their lineal descendants.
  3. One-third share of your real property to your spouse and two-thirds shares split equally among your two or more surviving children or their lineal descendants.
  4. 50 percent shares of your real property to both your spouse and your parents if you don’t have surviving children or lineal descendants of your children.

Personal property is divided according to its value and in special appropriations. If you have no surviving spouse, your estate will be divided and inherited by your surviving children, parents, siblings and other lineal descendants according to other laws of succession.

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