When a loved one dies, it sends everyone into shock! This is true even when the death was expected. Those who plan appropriately and communicate with loved ones what their wishes are and what they want to happen to their estate leave their loved ones with a little more peace. However, things can get complicated when there’s no estate plan or will in place.

Here are four things that happen when a loved one dies without a will in place:

  1. The State decides who the estate goes to in probate: When an estate goes to probate when there is no will, it means that North Carolina law decides how the estate will be distributed. Family and friends don’t have much of a say. It doesn’t matter if the deceased had verbally made his or her wishes known to family about property distribution, state law will now make that determination.
  2. Children could be left in limbo: If there is no other parent, and there is no estate plan detailing the guardianship of children, they may be turned over to the state’s care until a suitable guardian can be found or is appointed. This could mean that children are unnecessarily placed in foster care services.
  3. Friends, unmarried partners, and causes get left out: Typically, the court will divide the assets among the closest blood relatives and anyone else is left out. So it won’t matter if the person had a long time partner, or always wanted their estate to go to their alma mater or some other cause. The estate won’t go to them unless the family is feeling generous.
  4. Family distress: Unfortunately, family upheaval tends to happen when there’s no will in place for a deceased loved one. This could be anything from wanting to protect the family, honoring the deceased, or just plain old greed.

Setting up an estate plan in North Carolina can be a simple process, and one that will make things easy for those you leave behind. Contact Thornton Law Firm to start a will.