Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in North Carolina

In the state of North Carolina if a man passes with no spouse and no will, who is considered next of kin, his only son (a minor) or his sister?

Asked on 7/07/14, 2:33 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Jeremy Canipe The Canipe Law Firm, PLLC

If a North Carolina resident dies without a Will or other documents (such as a Trust) determining who receive his estate, then the NC Intestacy Statute determines who receives his property that is subject to probate. Under the situation you have described, under Section 29-15 of the NC General Statutes, his minor child will inherit. However, the local court can be expected to appoint a guardian of the child, as well as a person to protect and have charge over whatever the minor child inherits through his deceased father. Even without a Will, the clerk of court for the county where the father lived at the time of his death will govern the probate process. With a Will, the father while living can govern who receives his estate, who acts as his child's guardian in the event of his death, who will be the executor of his estate (who is appointed by the court to handle probate), and other factors. End of day, having a Will and other ancillary documents is the best way to go, but you should consult with an estate planning or probate lawyer to address this issue in more specificity.

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Answered on 7/07/14, 3:03 pm

I agree with Attorney Canipe. The child is the man's sole heir provided that the child is legitimate and paternity has been acknowledged. You do not indicate if the child was born in out of wedlock. If no paternity is established, the child must seek to establish that but since he is a minor his mother or guardian must do that.

And just because the child is the mother does not make her an automatic guardian. If the man left assets over $1500 and that would go to the child, then a guardian will have to be appointed to manage the child's money and the guardian will have to be bonded. Otherwise the child's share of the money would be paid into court and given to the child at age 18.

If paternity is not established and the child is not otherwise acknowledged, then the man will be considered to have died without any children and his estate would then pass to his parents if he was unmarried. If both parents are deceased, then the sister and any other siblings or nieces and nephews if siblings are dead would inherit.

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Answered on 7/08/14, 12:14 am

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