A will is a critical element of any estate plan. A valid will gives you control over the distribution of your estate in the event of your death. If you die without a will, your property will pass through intestate succession. This means that state statute will determine who gets your property, and it may not be who you would choose.
What are the requirements for a will to be valid? Any person over the age of 18 who is competent can make a will. The execution of the will, how it is signed and witnessed, will determine its validity.
If you have any questions about estate planning in North Carolina, a Probate and Estate Attorneys Monroe, NC can help you.
For a written will to be considered a valid and legally-binding document in North Carolina, it must satisfy the following basic requirements:
- Uniform Writing
A will can be typed and printed out or entirely handwritten. However, a question of validity can arise where a will contains a mixture of printed and handwritten language. This is common where someone cancels and writes over a printed document in ink.
In this case, a court may refuse to enforce the will.
- Adult Witnesses
A valid written will must be signed by the testator, the person making the will, in the presence of at least two witnesses. The witnesses must sign after the testator signs the will, acknowledging the testator’s signature. The witnesses must be aware that they are witnessing a will signing. They don’t have to know the contents of the will, however.
In North Carolina, a witness should not be a beneficiary to the will. While the will may still be valid if it is witnessed by a beneficiary, the witnessing beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will.
The testator must sign the will knowingly and acknowledge to the witness that the testator is signing his or her will. The testator should do so knowingly and under no undue influence or duress.
Nuncupative and Holographic Wills
North Carolina does recognize nuncupative and holographic wills. A nuncupative will is made orally in the presence of at least two witnesses. A nuncupative will is only valid if the testator is in their “last illness” or in imminent danger of death, from which they actually pass away. applies where the will-maker is dying due to an illness or danger. A nuncupative can only pass personal property, not real estate.
A holographic will, on the other hand, is entirely handwritten in the will maker’s handwriting. It must be signed and does not require witnesses. Both nuncupative and holographic wills are often the subject of litigation within the estate and between heirs. Thus, it is not advisable to have a nuncupative or holographic will as your primary estate planning tool. Rather, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney to formalize a valid written will.
Contact a Probate and Estate Attorney for Help
What are the requirements for a will to be valid? A will challenge can arise if there were irregularities in the execution of the will. In order to ensure that your will is valid, you should contact an experienced North Carolina estate planning attorney to help you draft and execute your documents.
Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP has been providing estate planning services in North Carolina since 1980. We are dedicated to helping you protect the financial security of you and your loved ones. Contact us at (704) 469-5523 to schedule a consultation with a Probate and Estate Attorneys Monroe, NC.