North Carolina Intestacy Laws
North Carolina Intestacy Laws
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North Carolina's Intestacy Laws

If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of North Carolina, you are said to have died "intestate."  In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of North Carolina has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see North Carolina Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes. 

 

 

Article 1.

 General Provisions.

 
§ 29‑1.  Short title.

This Chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Intestate Succession Act. (1959, c. 879, s. 1.)
 

§ 29‑2.  Definitions.

 As used in this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, the term: 

(1)  "Advancement" means an irrevocable inter vivos gift of property, made by an intestate donor to any person who would be his heir or one of his heirs upon his death, and intended by the intestate donor to enable the donee to anticipate his inheritance to the extent of the gift; except that no gift to a spouse shall be considered an advancement unless so designated by the intestate donor in a writing signed by the donor at the time of the gift. 

(2)  "Estate" means all the property of a decedent, including but not limited to: 

a.  An estate for the life of another; and 

b.  All future interests in property not terminable by the death of the owner thereof, including all reversions, remainders, executory interests, rights of entry and possibilities of reverter, subject, however, to all limitations and conditions imposed upon such future interests. 

(3)  "Heir" means any person entitled to take real or personal property upon intestacy under the provisions of this Chapter. 

(4)  "Lineal descendants" of a person means all children of such person and successive generations of children of such children. 

(5)  "Net estate" means the estate of a decedent, exclusive of family allowances, costs of administration, and all lawful claims against the estate. 

(6)  "Share," when used to describe the share of a net estate or property which any person is entitled to take, includes both the fractional share of the personal property and the undivided fractional interest in the real property, which the person is entitled to take.
 

§ 29‑3.  Certain distinctions as to intestate succession abolished.

In the determination of those persons who take upon intestate succession there is no distinction: 

(1)  Between real and personal property, or 

(2)  Between ancestral and nonancestral property, or 

(3)  Between relations of the whole blood and those of the half blood.
 

§ 29‑4.  Curtesy and dower abolished.

The estates of curtesy and dower are hereby abolished. 
 

§ 29‑5.  Computation of next of kin.

Degrees of kinship shall be computed as provided in G.S. 104A‑1. 
 

§ 29‑6.  Lineal succession unlimited.

There shall be no limitation on the right of succession by lineal descendants of an intestate. 
 

§ 29‑7.  Collateral succession limited.

There shall be no right of succession by collateral kin who are more than five degrees of kinship removed from an intestate; provided that if there is no collateral relative within the five degrees of kinship referred to herein, then collateral succession shall be unlimited to prevent any property from escheating. 
 

§ 29‑8.  Partial intestacy.

If part but not all of the estate of a decedent is validly disposed of by his will, the part not disposed of by such will shall descend and be distributed as intestate property. 
 

§ 29‑9.  Inheritance by unborn infant.

Lineal descendants and other relatives of an intestate born within 10 lunar months after the death of the intestate, shall inherit as if they had been born in the lifetime of the intestate and had survived him. 
 

§ 29‑10.  Renunciation.

Renunciation of an intestate share shall be as provided for in Chapter 31B of the General Statutes.  
 

§ 29‑11.  Aliens.

Unless otherwise provided by law, it shall be no bar to intestate succession by any person, that he, or any person through whom he traces his inheritance, is or has been an alien. 
 

§ 29‑12.  Escheats.

If there is no person entitled to take under G.S. 29‑14 or G.S. 29‑15, or if in case of an illegitimate intestate, there is no one entitled to take under G.S. 29‑21 or G.S. 29‑22 the net estate shall escheat as provided in G.S. 116B‑2.
 
 

Article 2.

 Shares of Persons Who Take upon Intestacy.
 

§ 29‑13.  Descent and distribution upon intestacy; 120‑hour survivorship requirement, revised simultaneous death act, Article 24, Chapter 28A.

(a)  All the estate of a person dying intestate shall descend and be distributed, subject to the payment of costs of administration and other lawful claims against the estate, and subject to the payment of State inheritance or estate taxes, as provided in this Chapter. 

(b)  The determination of whether an heir has predeceased a person dying intestate shall be made as provided by Article 24 of Chapter 28A of the General Statutes.
 

§ 29‑14.  Share of surviving spouse.

(a)  Real Property. – The share of the surviving spouse in the real property is: 

(1)  If the intestate is survived by only one child or by any lineal descendant of only one deceased child, a one‑half undivided interest in the real property; 

(2)  If the intestate is survived by two or more children, or by one child and any lineal descendant of one or more deceased children or by lineal descendants of two or more deceased children, a one‑third undivided interest in the real property; 

(3)  If the intestate is not survived by a child, children or any lineal descendant of a deceased child or children, but is survived by one or more parents, a one‑half undivided interest in the real property; 

(4)  If the intestate is not survived by a child, children or any lineal descendant of a deceased child or children, or by a parent, all the real property. 

(b)  Personal Property. – The share of the surviving spouse in the personal property is: 

(1)  If the intestate is survived by only one child or by any lineal descendant of only one deceased child, and the net personal property does not exceed thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) in value, all of the personal property; if the net personal property exceeds thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) in value, the sum of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) plus one half of the balance of the personal property; 

(2)  If the intestate is survived by two or more children, or by one child and any lineal descendant of one or more deceased children, or by lineal descendants of two or more deceased children, and the net personal property does not exceed thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) in value, all of the personal property; if the net personal property exceeds thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) in value, the sum of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) plus one third of the balance of the personal property; 

(3)  If the intestate is not survived by a child, children, or any lineal descendant of a deceased child or children, but is survived by one or more parents, and the net personal property does not exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) in value, all of the personal property; if the net personal property exceeds fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) in value, the sum of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) plus one half of the balance of the personal property; 

(4)  If the intestate is not survived by a child, children, or any lineal descendant of a deceased child or children, or by a parent, all of the personal property. 

(c)  When an equitable distribution of property is awarded to the surviving spouse pursuant to G.S. 50‑20 subsequent to the death of the decedent, the share of the surviving spouse determined under subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall be first determined as though no property had been awarded to the surviving spouse pursuant to G.S. 50‑20 subsequent to the death of the decedent, and then reduced by the net value of the marital estate awarded to the surviving spouse pursuant to G.S. 50‑20 subsequent to the death of the decedent.
 

§ 29‑15.  Shares of others than surviving spouse.

Those persons surviving the intestate, other than the surviving spouse, shall take that share of the net estate not distributable to the surviving spouse, or the entire net estate if there is no surviving spouse, as follows: 

(1)  If the intestate is survived by only one child or by only one lineal descendant of only one deceased child, that person shall take the entire net estate or share, but if the intestate is survived by two or more lineal descendants of only one deceased child, they shall take as provided in G.S. 29‑16; or 

(2)  If the intestate is survived by two or more children or by one child and any lineal descendant of one or more deceased children, or by lineal descendants of two or more deceased children, they shall take as provided in G.S. 29‑16; or 

(3)  If the intestate is not survived by a child, children or any  lineal descendant of a deceased child or children, but is survived by both parents, they shall take in equal shares, or if either parent is dead, the surviving parent shall take the entire share; or 

(4)  If the intestate is not survived by such children or lineal descendants or by a parent, the brothers and sisters of the intestate, and the lineal descendants of any deceased brothers or sisters, shall take as provided in G.S. 29‑16; or 

(5)  If there is no one entitled to take under the preceding subdivisions of this section or under G.S. 29‑14,

a.  The paternal grandparents shall take one half of the net estate in equal shares, or, if either is dead, the survivor shall take the entire one half of the net estate, and if neither paternal grandparent survives, then the paternal uncles and aunts of the intestate and the lineal descendants of deceased paternal uncles and aunts shall take said one half as provided in G.S. 29‑16; and 

b.  The maternal grandparents shall take the other one half in equal shares, or if either is dead, the survivor shall take the entire one half of the net estate, and if neither maternal grandparent survives, then the maternal  uncles and aunts of the intestate and the lineal descendants of deceased maternal uncles and aunts shall take one half as provided in G.S. 29‑16; but 

c.  If there is no grandparent and no uncle or aunt, or lineal descendant of a deceased uncle or aunt, on the paternal side, then those of the maternal side who otherwise would be entitled to take one half as hereinbefore provided in this subdivision shall take the whole; or

d.  If there is no grandparent and no uncle or aunt, or lineal descendant of a deceased uncle or aunt, on the maternal side, then those on the paternal side who otherwise would be entitled to take one half as hereinbefore provided in this subdivision shall take the whole.
 
 

Article 3.

Distribution among Classes.
 

§ 29‑16.  Distribution among classes.

(a)  Children and Their Lineal Descendants. – If the intestate is survived by lineal descendants, their respective shares in the property which they are entitled to take under G.S. 29‑15 of this Chapter shall be determined in the following manner:

(1)  Children. – To determine the share of each surviving child, divide the property by the number of surviving children plus the number of deceased children who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate.

(2)  Grandchildren. – To determine the share of each surviving grandchild by a deceased child of the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivision of this subsection, divide that property by the number of such surviving grandchildren plus the number of deceased grandchildren who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate.

(3)  Great‑Grandchildren. – To determine the share of each surviving great‑grandchild by a deceased grandchild of the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivisions of this subsection, divide that property by the  number of such surviving great‑grandchildren plus the number of deceased great‑grandchildren who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate.

(4)  Great‑Great‑Grandchildren. – To determine the share of each surviving great‑great‑grandchild by a deceased great‑grandchild of the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivisions of this subsection, divide that property by the number of such surviving great‑great‑grandchildren plus the number of deceased great‑great‑ grandchildren who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate.

(5)  Other Lineal Descendants of Children. – Divide, according to the formula established in the preceding subdivisions of this subsection, any property not taken under such preceding subdivisions, among the lineal descendants of the children of the intestate not already participating.

(b)  Brothers and Sisters and Their Lineal Descendants. – If the  intestate is survived by brothers and sisters or the lineal descendants of deceased brothers and sisters, their respective shares  in the property which they are entitled to take under G.S. 29‑15 of this Chapter shall be determined in the following manner:

(1)  Brothers and Sisters. – To determine the share of each surviving brother and sister, divide the property by the number of surviving brothers and sisters plus the number of deceased brothers and sisters who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate within the fifth degree of kinship to the intestate.

(2)  Nephews and Nieces. – To determine the share of each surviving nephew or niece by a deceased brother or sister of  the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivision of this subsection, divide that property by the number of such surviving nephews or nieces plus the number of deceased nephews and nieces who have left lineal descendants surviving the intestate within the fifth degree of kinship to the intestate.

(3)  Grandnephews and Grandnieces. – To determine the share of each surviving grandnephew or grandniece by a deceased nephew or niece of the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivisions of this subsection, divide that property by the number of such surviving grandnephews and grandnieces plus the number of deceased grandnephews and grandnieces who have left children surviving the intestate.

(4)  Great‑Grandnephews and Great‑Grandnieces. – To determine the share of each surviving child of a deceased grandnephew or grandniece of the intestate, divide equally among the great‑grandnephews and great‑grandnieces of the intestate any property not taken under the preceding subdivisions of this subsection.

(5)  Grandparents and Others. – If there is no one within the fifth degree of kinship to the intestate entitled to take the property under the preceding subdivisions of this subsection, then the intestate's property shall go to those entitled to take under G.S. 29‑15(5).

(c)  Uncles and Aunts and Their Lineal Descendants. – If the intestate is survived by uncles and aunts or the lineal descendants of deceased uncles and aunts, their respective shares in the property which they are entitled to take under G.S. 29‑15 shall be determined in the following manner:

(1)  Uncles and Aunts. – To determine the share of each surviving uncle and aunt, divide the property by the number of surviving uncles and aunts plus the number of deceased uncles and aunts who have left children or grandchildren surviving the intestate.

(2)  Children of Uncles and Aunts. – To determine the share of each surviving child of a deceased uncle or aunt of the intestate in the property not taken under the preceding subdivision of this subsection, divide that property by the number of surviving children of deceased uncles and aunts plus the number of deceased children of deceased uncles and aunts who have left children surviving the intestate.

(3)  Grandchildren of Uncles and Aunts. – To determine the share of each surviving child of a deceased child of a deceased uncle or aunt of the intestate, divide equally among the grandchildren of uncles or aunts of the intestate any property not taken under the preceding subdivisions of this subsection.
 

  Article 4.

 Adopted Children.
 

  § 29‑17.  Succession by, through and from adopted children.

(a)  A child, adopted in accordance with Chapter 48 of the General Statutes or in accordance with the applicable law of any other jurisdiction, and the heirs of such child, are entitled by succession  to any property by, through and from his adoptive parents and their heirs the same as if he were the natural legitimate child of the adoptive parents. 

(b)  An adopted child is not entitled by succession to any property, by, through, or from his natural parents or their heirs, except as provided in subsection (e) of this section. 

(c)  The adoptive parents and the heirs of the adoptive parents are  entitled by succession to any property, by, through and from an adopted child the same as if the adopted child were the natural legitimate child of the adoptive parents. 

(d)  The natural parents and the heirs of the natural parents are not entitled by succession to any property, by, through or from an adopted child, except as provided in subsection (e) of this section.

(e)  If a natural parent has previously married, is married to, or shall marry an adoptive parent, the adopted child is considered the child of such natural parent for all purposes of intestate succession.
 
 
 
For additional provisions regarding North Carolina's intestacy laws,  click here.
 
 

[Reference - North Carolina's Intestacy laws]

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