In NC, what happens to property in single name if one spouse dies? see below

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In NC, what happens to property in single name if one spouse dies? see below

In NC, husband moves into wife’s home once married. He puts all money from his house into her house, fixing it up. She has not added him to title. What happens if she dies? 1. If she dies without a will. or 2. If she dies with a will leaving all to her son? Does husband have any recourse/claim or is he out of luck?

Asked on June 15, 2009 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If the wife dies without a will she dies "intestate".  Under the North Carolina intestacy statute, a surviving spouse is generally first in line to get any assets from the intestate estate.  However, the amount a surviving spouse is entitled to varies.  If the decedent is survived by only one child or by any lineal descendant of only one deceased child, the surviving spouse gets an undivided one-half interest in the real property of intestate estate, plus the first $30,000 of personal property and one-half of the remaining personal property in the intestate estate.

If the wife dies with a will and the will leaves all assets to her child, the husband can still get  make a claim against the probate estate by virtue of something known as an "elective share".  Basically the North Carolina Elective Share Act provides the spouse with the right to claim a certain minimum share of the owner's estate.  This "elective share" is payable outright to the surviving spouse.

The easiest thing is for your wife to add you to the deed as a "joint tenant", this way the house passes solely to you upon her death.

You should consider speaking to an attorney in your area about this.  He can best advise as to how you can fully protect your legal interests.


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