If someone dies without a Will who is entitled to inherit?

UPDATED: Jun 16, 2011

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If someone dies without a Will who is entitled to inherit?

My husband died of cancer and did not have a Will. The settlement is coming in and the kids that left and said that they did not want anything to do with him, are now trying to take the money. What can I do?

Asked on June 16, 2011 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If someone dies without a Will, they are said to have died "intestate". Accordingly the laws of the state in which they were domiciled as of the date of their death will control. Typically (it varies from state-to-state) distribution is 1/2 to the surviving spouse and 2/3 to the children. However, that is only as to assets that must go through probate.

When you speak of a settlement I will take this to mean life insurance proceeds (since your husband died of cancer). In that case, the proceeds will be payable to the listed beneficiary. If that is you, then you own all proceeds; the children have no right to them. If, however, your husband's estate was listed as the beneficiary then the children, as legal heirs, are entitled to their 2/3 share (or whatever share is given to children under NC's intestacy statute).

At this point, you need to consult directly with a probate attorney in your area.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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