If my son died and he is not married but lived with a woman for 30 yrs and he hadno children am I entitled to survivor benefits. she says everything is in probate but I know he had a boat in my name. If it is in probate, how do I find out?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Property can pass to a survivor either under a will or under the intestate statute. Either of these transfers occur in the probate court and the procedure is commonly referred to as "Probate".
If your son had no will, his parents would be his intestate heirs. By will he can leave his property to anyone and, he may exclue any person other than his surviving spouse.
North Carolina does not recognize common law marriage unless that common law marriage occurred in another state that recognizes common law marriage. His "companion" has no rights under NC law except those rights or interests he may have given her under his will or as the result of a common law marriage in another state.
It is also possible to leave property to a joint owner with survivorship rights or to a beneficiary by a beneficiary designation. This property passes outside of probate. This is typical with insurance, bank accounts, annuities and retirement benefits. A properly executed and delivered joint account contract or beneficiary designation will control the disposition of that property outside of the will.
Probate is a public process and the status of probate can be determined with a phone call or visit to the Clerk of Court of the North Carolina county in which your son resided at the time of his death.
You can check the title to the boat with a phone call to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles.