How Long is a Last Will and Testament Valid?

You may be reviewing a will for yourself, or a loved one that is 10, 20, 30, or even 50 years old. With such an old document, you may be wondering, “Can a will expire?” In North Carolina, the answer is no. A will does not automatically expire during the life of the testator.

In this article, Monroe probate and estate administration lawyers provide a more in-depth explanation of how long a last will and testament is valid under North Carolina state law.

North Carolina Law: Any Adult of Sound Mind Can Make a Will

First and foremost, it is important to clarify that a will must meet certain basic requirements to be legally valid. Under North Carolina law (NC General Statutes § 31-1), “any person of sound mind, and 18 years of age or over, may make a will.”

To be enforced by a state court, a will must be signed, witnessed, notarized, and use language that effectively distributes your property. To ensure that your wishes are properly followed, you should discuss the process with an attorney.

A Will Can Be Revoked or Revised By Any Person of Sound Mind

As long as the testator (person who wrote the will) still has a sound mind, they have the right to revoke or revise the document. Indeed, there are no limitations on the number of times that a person can change their will.

Technically speaking, this means a person could review and revise their will on an annual basis. And the point to keep in mind is that as long as an individual has legal capacity under North Carolina law (a sound mind), they retain the right to revoke or revise a will.

A Will Does Not Expire During the Course of a Person’s Life in North Carolina

A will does not have to be revised. Someone can write a will when they are 25 years old and never change the document again for the rest of their lives. Even if they live to be more than 100 years old, that original will can still be valid. Of course, most people can benefit from reviewing their will regularly. Revisions may be appropriate. Still, that is not a requirement.

When Should I Revise My Will?

Our Monroe Estate Planning Lawyers recommend revising your will if any of the following events occurs after executing your first will:

  • (1) You are married
  • (2) The birth or adoption of a child
  • (3) The death of a spouse

Revising your will after these events can help ease future challenges to a will, and clarify the distribution of your property.

The Bottom Line: In North Carolina, a will does not expire during the lifetime of the person who drafted it. It remains valid until it is revoked, revised, or executed. You should review your will to ensure that it carries out your current final wishes, but you do not need to worry about it expiring.

Call Our North Carolina Estate Planning Lawyers for Immediate Legal Help

At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, the Monroe probate and estate administration attorneys are standing by, ready to advocate for your rights. If you have any questions about the validity of a last will and testament, they can help. Contact us today to set up your strictly confidential case evaluation. From our Monroe office, we serve people and families throughout the region, including Union County, Stanly County, Anson County, and Mecklenburg County.

Call Today! (704) 289-2519