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Aug 19, 2022

What is a Last Will and Testament?

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Proper estate planning includes the creation of multiple documents including a Last Will and Testament.  A Last and Will and Testament is important for making sure that your loved ones are taken care of after your death, and that your wishes are followed when it comes to distributing your property and other assets.

What Is The Purpose Of A Will? 

A Will, short for “Last Will and Testament,” is a document that explains your wishes after death. Primarily, Wills focus on the distribution of property – who gets what, how much, and so on. However, a Will also can be used to express your wishes about care for minor children, as might be the case for young parents.

What Does It Take To Create A Valid Will In North Carolina?

In North Carolina, there are three types of wills: Attested Wills, Holographic Wills, and Nuncupative Wills.

Anyone can create a valid Attested Will in North Carolina, as long as it meets a few basic requirements: 

• The person creating the will (also known as the “Testator”) must be 18 years of age or older.

• The Testator must have the testamentary intent to create and sign their Will.

• The Testator must have the testamentary capacity to sign their Will.

• The Testator must know what they own (sometimes known as their “natural bounty”).

• The Testator must sign the document or be signed for them by another under the Testator’s direction and in the Testator’s presence.

• At least two witnesses must sign a North Carolina will. Each witness must sign in front of the testator, after the Testator signs the document.

Holographic Wills are wills written completely in the Testator’s own handwriting and Nuncupative Wills are oral wills made right before the Testator’s death.  

While North Carolina recognizes Holographic and Nuncupative Wills, an Attested Will is the best way to make sure your wishes are followed through.

Can A Will Be Revoked Or Modified?

A Will can be changed at any time before your death, as long as the new document meets all of the qualifications for a valid Will as outlined above. A Will can also be revoked completely by physically canceling, destroying, burning, or tearing up the document. This must either be done by the Testator, or by somebody else in the Testator’s presence and under the Testator’s direction. 

What Happens If I Die Without A Will? 

If you die without a will, you will be considered to have died “intestate.” This means that there are no instructions on how to dispose of your property when you die, and your assets will be distributed pursuant to the laws of North Carolina. When assets are distributed pursuant to the laws of North Carolina, your assets may be distributed in a way you never intended.

Creating a Will prior to your death will ensure your assets are distributed in the manner you intended them to be distributed with minimal conflict among family and other beneficiaries.
 

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