A will is a foundational estate planning document. It clarifies a person’s last wishes and governs the distribution of their assets. Under North Carolina law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 31-3.3), there are certain rules and conditions to which a will must conform to be legally valid. You can challenge a will on the grounds that it is invalid under state law. In this article, our Monroe probate & estate administration attorneys highlight four of the most common reasons why a will is invalid in North Carolina.
Four Reasons to Challenge the Validity of a Will in North Carolina
- Lack of a Signature and/or Witnesses
In North Carolina, the basic rules are that a will should be signed by the testator (creator) and that there should be at least two competent witnesses. For this reason, it is best to draft a will with the help of a professional who can make sure that the document both carries out your last wishes and meets all legal requirements. A will that is unsigned or fails to meet the witness requirements may not be legally enforceable under North Carolina state law. You can contest a will on these grounds.
- Multiple Conflicting Wills
Some of the most complicated probate cases are the ones with multiple wills—especially when those wills conflict with each other. If multiple wills are discovered, a North Carolina probate court may be asked to step in and resolve the dispute. Ultimately, only one will is valid. When a person creates a valid will in North Carolina, all previous wills are immediately defunct.
- Lack of Capacity
Not everyone has the legal authority to draft a will. In North Carolina, a testator must have the legal capacity to create a valid will. For example, a child cannot draft a will. You must be an adult to form a will in North Carolina. Of course, the most common issue is that an elderly person may lose their mental capacity during their later years. A will — or changes to a will — can be challenged on the ground that the testator lacked capacity.
- Undue Influence
Finally, a will can be challenged on the grounds of undue influence. A person with full legal capacity has the right to make their own decisions regarding their property and assets. Unfortunately, in some cases, a person with close personal access to the will’s creator may try to exert improper influence to get the will changed to their own benefit. A will drafted or altered because undue influence was asserted is not valid in North Carolina.
Get Help From a North Carolina Wills Attorney
At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, our North Carolina probate & estate administration lawyers have the skills and knowledge that you can rely on. If you have any questions about the validity of wills, we are available to offer guidance and support.
Contact our firm today for a confidential initial consultation. From our Monroe law office, we serve communities throughout the region, including Union County, Mecklenburg County, Anson County, and Stanly County.