Who Can Inherit - Degrees of Kinship and Order of Inheritance If a decedent dies without a Will, or has property not disposed of in the Will, then we have to look at the laws of intestacy to determine who will received distributions from the Estate. After the payment of the year's allowance, costs of administration, payment of lawful debts and claims, and payment of taxes, we can calculate the net estate. The net estate is distributed to the heirs as determined by the laws of intestacy. The order of priority among the heirs is: Surviving Spouse, Lineal Descendants, Parents, Siblings, and their Lineal Descendants, Grandparents. The following table of consanguinity makes the relationships a little easier to visualize. Determining the Share Size Once you determine the share of the surviving spouse and deduct that amount, you will want to use N.C. Gen. Stat. 29-16 to determine the share of the remaining heirs. The way to calculate this would be to find the nearest generation with individuals either surviving the decedent or predeceasing the decedent but having surviving lineal descendants. You will determine the shares between everyone in that generation but only actually pay out the shares indicated for those that survived the decedent. For those that predeceased but had living lineal descendants, you will gather their remaining shares and then move to their lineal descendants and split what remains between all the living descendants and predeceasing descendants who have living lineal descendants. You will essentially repeat this process going down the line of lineal descendants until you have allocated all shares of net estate. Elective Share and Life Estate Surviving spouses may decide to take an elective share in lieu of what they were given in the Will, which is governed by Article 1A of Ch 30. In 2013, the elective share calculation was changed. It now accounts for the length of time the spouse was married to the decedent.: In lieu of the intestate share or of the elective share, the spouse may be allowed a life estate in one third in value of all the real estate. Alternately, the spouse may elect to take a life estate in the usual dwelling house, together with outbuildings, improvements, easements, and lands upon which situated and reasonably necessary to the use and enjoyment thereof, as well as a fee simple ownership of the household furnishings therein. If the value of this life estate does not equal one-third of the value of the life estate in all the real property, the spouse can claim additional life estate rights in other property to get to that value. Article 8 of Chapter 29 of the N.C. Gen. Statutes governs this process. Bars to Inheritance for Slayer Bars to inheritance are governed by Chapter 31A of the N.C. Gen. Statutes. It really covers a handful of situations: acts barring rights of spouses, acts barring rights of parents, and acts barring rights of Slayers. Slayers are barred from certain testate and intestate succession rights, pursuant to Article 3 of Ch. 31 A of the N.C. Gen. Statutes. Essentially, slayers are treated as having predeceased the decedent. If the slayer has issue who would receive if the slayer predeceased, those issue would take. If there are entireties property, half transfers to the decedent's estate, and half is held for the slayer's life, which will be transferred at death to the victim's heirs or devisees. For other survivorship property, a similar rule applies, except that the slayer's share goes to the estate rather than the heirs or devisees directly. In practice, this may require leaving an estate open for a long time or reopening an estate long after the decedent has passed to dispose of property that is newly acquired by the slain decedent's estate upon the slayer's passing. Also of importance is that insurance and annuity proceeds won't go to the slayer either. The slayer will be treated as if he or she predeceased the decedent. If before the rights of the slayer are adjudicated, a third party gives adequate consideration for some interest the slayer would have had but for the adjudication, then that person's rights are preserved, but the consideration paid will be held in trust and the slayer will be liable for any of the consideration he dissipated and for the difference in value. Bars to Inheritance for Spouses Acts barring the rights of spouses are governed by N.C. Gen. Stat. 31A-1. The most common one you may face is the subsequent divorce of a spouse, which also is addressed in 31-5.4 for decedent's dying with a Will. Dissolution of marriage by absolute divorce or annulment after making a will does not revoke the will of any testator but, unless otherwise specifically provided in the will, it revokes all provisions in the will in favor of the testator's former spouse or purported former spouse, including, but not by way of limitation, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse or purported former spouse and any appointment of the former spouse or purported former spouse as executor, trustee, conservator, or guardian. If provisions are revoked solely by this section, they are revived by the testator's remarriage to the former spouse or purported former spouse. Bars to Inheritance for Parents Any parent who has willfully abandoned the care and maintenance of his or her child shall lose all right to intestate succession in any part of the child's estate and all right to administer the estate of the child, except - (1) Where the abandoning parent resumed its care and maintenance at least one year prior to the death of the child and continued the same until its death; or (2) Where a parent has been deprived of the custody of his or her child under an order of a court of competent jurisdiction and the parent has substantially complied with all orders of the court requiring contribution to the support of the child.