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

UPDATED: Jun 15, 2009

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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


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

Answered 13 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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