Hickory, NC asked in Probate for North Carolina

Q: My dad passed away in Oct 2014and I am his only son and he has a wife,what are my rights,no will

They were separated she lives and has always lived in California, she came here 2 days after he died and took ever thing and went back to calif and sold the house here that was suppose to go to his granddaughter, what are my rights? She won't even give me my great,, great grandfather things that were supposed to go to me.she won't even answer any phone calls..not to mention she won't let me get my thing's that were my dad's in Calif that were supposed to go to me and my daughters.help

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1 Lawyer Answer
Catherine E Bruce
Catherine E Bruce
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: When a North Carolina resident dies without a will, they die “intestate.” When this happens, NC law decides how the person’s property is distributed. Even if your father said he intended for you and your daughters to have certain items or property, it’s not relevant if he didn’t write that down in a will.

Under intestacy, your stepmother gets 50% of your father’s solely owned real property. She is also entitled to the first $60,000 of personal property, and 50% of any personal property above and beyond that. A surviving spouse is also allowed to claim an additional “year’s allowance” of up to $30,000. This can be taken out of the personal property of the decedent, such as cars, bank accounts, furniture, memorabilia, etc. Once your stepmother claims what she is entitled to, you should receive everything else in his estate.

Whether you have any interest in your father’s house depends on how it was titled. If he owned it as “tenants by the entireties” or “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” with his wife, she became the sole owner of the house at his death and was entitled to sell it and keep the proceeds. If he owned it in some other form, you may have a claim on a portion of the funds from the sale.

You may be able to claim that your father’s spouse abandoned him and is therefore not entitled to receive her share under the intestate laws. If you could successfully make this claim, you, as the only son, would receive all of your father’s estate. However, if they lived apart by mutual consent or for some other reason, you probably can’t prove abandonment.

It sounds like you need a local probate attorney to help you determine what exactly you are entitled to, and to help you make your claim.

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