According to North Carolina law, surviving spouses have a right to an elective share of their partner’s Total Net Assets. Now a sliding scale has been developed dependent on the number of years the couple has been married. The new terms establish that with newly married couples—those that have been married for less than five years—a surviving spouse is entitled to less of the deceased spouse’s assets. Specifically, 85% less. The new law provides that surviving spouses who were married for less than five years are entitled to only 15% of the deceased spouses’ Total Net Assets. The survivor of couples married between five and ten years are entitled to 25%; between ten and fifteen years, 33%; and more than 15 years, 50%.
The changes include the removal of a condition regarding surviving descendants. Before the new changes were passed and signed, elective shares were calculated based on lineal descendants of the decedent. Whether or not the surviving spouse was part of a decedent’s second or successive marriage also affected how elective shares were determined. Now this section has been removed entirely.
Couples can ensure that their assets will be distributed in accordance with their wishes by meeting with a North Carolina estate planning attorney and creating apre or postnuptial agreement, along with Wills or Trusts.