North Carolina law affords surviving spouses important rights and benefits. In order to preserve all rights and benefits granted under the law, a surviving spouse must adhere to time-sensitive deadlines provided by statute. The failure to meet one of the probate deadlines can cause a surviving spouse to lose one or more spousal entitlements.
What if a Spouse Dies Without a Will?
Elective Share or Election Against a Will
Every surviving spouse, whether or not the surviving spouse has petitioned for an elective share, shall, unless the surviving spouse has forfeited the surviving spouse’s right thereto, as provided by law, be entitled, out of the personal property of the deceased spouse, to an allowance of the value of thirty thousand dollars ($ 30,000) for the surviving spouse’s support for one year after the death of the deceased spouse. Such allowance shall be exempt from any lien, by judgment or execution, acquired against the property of the deceased spouse, and shall, in cases of testacy, be charged against the share of the surviving spouse. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 30-15.
Survival by 120 Hours
For the purposes of intestate succession, homestead allowance, and exempt property, the surviving spouse must survive the decedent by one hundred twenty hours. A surviving spouse who fails to survive the decedent by one hundred twenty hours will be deemed to have predeceased the decedent.