Dying Without a Will in North Carolina, Pt. 5

June 3, 2015 | Cecil Harvell

This is part five in a six-part series entitled Dying Without A Will in North Carolina. Today I will be explaining some special cases regarding children’s shares under the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act.


We have already discussed some examples of intestate succession involving the children of the decedent. Given the shifting and dynamic nature of many families today, it is worthwhile to look at some special cases involving children.

First, let us consider adoption. If a child is legally adopted, he or she receives an intestate share in as full and as equal a manner as any biological child of the decedent. However, if there has been no legal adoption, then the child does not automatically receive an intestate share even if he or she is a foster child or a stepchild of the decedent. Now let us change the scenario to one in which the child is put up for adoption by the decedent and is legally adopted by another family. In this case, the child does not receive an intestate share from the decedent. However, in the case where the decedent remarries, and the new spouse adopts the decedent’s biological children, the children’s right to share in the intestate inheritance is unaffected.

Consider also the case of children born out of wedlock. If the father is not married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth, the child may still receive an intestate share from the father if either (1) the child has been legally legitimated through a court process; (2) the father acknowledges his paternity over the child; or (3) the father’s paternity is otherwise proven under North Carolina law.

As one final point to consider, any child conceived by a father, but not born before the father’s death, will receive an intestate share from the father’s estate so long as the child is born within ten months of the father’s death.

Please look for the final part in the six-part series entitled Dying Without A Will in North Carolina- Conclusion in the coming days.

Cecil S. Harvell - Elite Lawyer 2024
About the Author
Cecil S. Harvell is AV Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rated in the areas of Trusts and Estates, General Practice, and Aged and Aging. Mr. Harvell is a native of Morehead City, North Carolina and was admitted to the Georgia State Bar in 1983 and admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 1987. Read More
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