What is the law for a spouse who dies with no Will?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is the law for a spouse who dies with no Will?

I wanted to know what happens if my husband dies without aW ill. Does everything go to surviving spouse even if it is not in my name? I am joint owner/beneficiary on everything but wanted to understand the law.

Asked on November 9, 2016 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When someone dies without a Will, they are said t have died "intestate". This means that the intestacy laws of the state in which they were domiciled at the time of their death controls. In NC, if a husband dies but has no Will their entire estate is distributed to their a spouse if there are no children; if there are children then the estate partially goes to the children as well. For the exact breakdowns, you can check here:
You should be aware that, many valuable assets don't go through probate, so aren’t affected by intestate succession laws. For example:

payable-on-death bank accounts
securities held in transfer-on-death accounts
funds in an IRA, 401(k) or other retirement accounts
property transferred to a living Trust
life insurance proceeds
property owned with someone else in joint tenancy (or tenancy by the entirety).

These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or named beneficiary.

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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