Non-traditional families in North Carolina face interesting issues when someone dies not usually experienced by traditionally married families. Non-traditional families can consist of unmarried couples either same-sex or heterosexual, cohabitating siblings and grandchildren living with grandparents. Careful planning ahead of time can enable non-traditional families to have the same rights as traditional families.

The North Carolina Judicial Branch states that some handwritten wills may be valid upon a loved one’s death. However, the state requires certain legal requirements for that will to be valid. The court must probate the will in order for it to have legal effect.

While property and assets held by a surviving member stays with that person, the majority of a deceased persons’ assets require an estate administration process under court supervision. A will or estate plan can designate one person to administer the estate or the court can appoint one. Non-traditional family members need to supply the will to the court or an attorney upon the death of a loved one.

The Balance lists the documents a non-traditional family may need to protect their loved ones. The last will and testament inform the courts how to divide a person’s assets and property upon their death. However, that does not grant access for loved ones to visit during a lengthy hospital stay or have power of attorney.

Consider including an Advanced Medical Directive and a Living Will as part of the overall estate plan. These documents can help loved ones make medical and financial decisions with legal backing. As needed, financial and medical power of attorneys can be handy documents as well.