Planning for the future can feel frustrating, uncomfortable, and intimidating, so let us help take the guesswork out of it. If you’ve wondered or are worried about whether your adopted children, stepchildren, or grandchildren will inherit from your estate, this legal guide will help explain. If you need help with estate planning or just have a question, do not hesitate to contact us for an initial consultation (don’t worry—it’s free).

What if i don’t have a will?

If you don’t have a will, the State of North Carolina must consider your children to be “legal children” in order for them to inherit from your estate. Modern families take many different shapes and forms, so navigating North Carolina inheritance laws is not always simple or clear. For everyone in your life that may call you “mom” or “dad,” this is how North Carolina legally views them for purposes of inheritance:

  • Stepchildren: Stepchildren that you never legally adopted may not receive anything. If your new spouse adopts your biological children, it will not affect the amount they receive.

  • Grandchildren: Your grandchild will only receive a receive a share if their parent (your son or daughter) is not alive to receive it

  • Adopted children: Children you legally adopted are viewed and treated just like biological children

  • Children put up for adoption: Children you put up for adoption and who were legally adopted by another family will not receive a share.

  • Children in the womb: Children that you conceived but were not born before your death will receive a share, as long as they are born within ten months of your death.

  • Children born outside of marriage: If you were not married to your children’s mother when she gave birth to them, they will receive a share of your estate if you or the State of North Carolina have deemed the legitimate or acknowledged your paternity.

What if i have a will?

If you have a will, it is easy to include (or exclude) stepchildren, adopted children, and grandchildren in your estate plans. After all, that’s the benefit of a will: the power and freedom to decide what happens before you die to you property and belongings after you die. Our experienced North Carolina trusts and estates attorneys are ready to help.

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