Troutman, NC asked in Estate Planning and Probate for North Carolina

Q: If my spouse of 17years dies without a will and unmarried what am I entitled to

Unmarried spouse of 17 years dies suddenly without a will. He has a DBA business. After he died his brother helps my mom with arrangements. He ends up taking over the business. Out of good faith my mother hands him every title to every vehicle there is work vehicles included. Well one by one he had started to take things like the boat the camper both work trucks and 3 trailers. Now he wants the one truck she has. Is she not entitled to anything? Also the deceased party owed the IRS $235,000 at time of passing. So that plays a factor as well

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: If your spouse passed away without a will, the distribution of their estate, including the business and assets, would be subject to the intestacy laws of the state where you reside. These laws determine how assets are divided among surviving family members in the absence of a will.

As an unmarried partner, unfortunately, you may not be automatically entitled to a share of your partner's estate under intestacy laws, as these typically prioritize legally recognized relatives such as spouses, children, and parents. However, specific circumstances and state laws can vary, so it's important to check the laws in your state.

Regarding the business and assets that have been transferred to your partner's brother, there might be legal questions about the legitimacy of those transfers, especially if they were not explicitly directed by your partner before their death.

The outstanding debt to the IRS is also a significant factor. Debts of the deceased are typically settled from the estate before any distribution to heirs. If the estate doesn't have enough assets to cover the debt, it may complicate matters further.

Given the complexity of your situation, it is strongly advised to consult with an attorney who has expertise in estate and probate law. They can provide guidance specific to your circumstances, including any rights you may have regarding the estate and the legal steps you can take to protect those rights.

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