Inheritance rights are laws governing what your surviving family members inherit. In some cases, depending on state laws, a family member can claim an inheritance regardless of what is written in your will. Below, our estate lawyer in Raleigh takes a look at inheritance rights to get more clarification and see how you can avoid disputes among family members after your death.
Understanding Inheritance Rights | Estate Lawyer in Raleigh
If there is not a will or the will is not valid, inheritance laws can come into play when distributing the deceased’s assets. It is also determined by intestate succession laws, which outline the order in which family members are in line to inherit assets.
The one most common in the right to claim is the surviving spouse. In community property states, he or she is entitled to half of everything that was acquired during the marriage. These states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. North Carolina is not a community property state, therefore a surviving spouse has the right to claim about one-third of the deceased’s property. If the will leaves the spouse less than that amount, he or she can contest it unless he or she has agreed in writing to take less than the statutory amount.
Most couples plan their estates together and decide the amounts together. In cases where two people are still legally married but not together, the surviving spouse can use this law to his or her advantage in order to get an inheritance even if the deceased did not want that to be the case.
From a legal standpoint, children and grandchildren do not have a right to inheritance. Most people with children do provide for them in their estate plan, and if there is no will, the state’s intestate succession laws apply to them. If children were left out of a will, most states will allow them to contest it. For instance, if a child was born after the will was written and it was not updated, then it is likely the child should be included. It may also apply if a child dies but leaves behind their own children that have been left out of the will. Working with an estate lawyer in Raleigh can help with this situation.
If there was a reason for leaving a child or grandchild out of a will, it is important to document it clearly so that if he or she contests it, it will be clear to the courts that it was done on purpose.
It is possible to dispute what is written in a will, but courts are reluctant to change the wishes of the deceased if the will was well-drafted and had clear instructions. If someone dies without a will, the laws of the state will determine who gets an inheritance. The laws vary from state to state.
If you have questions about inheritance rights in North Carolina, contact an estate lawyer in Raleigh who knows about local inheritance laws. Having a well-drafted will can ensure that your instructions are carried out and your family members are taken care of in the manner that you wish.