What Is a Valid Will in North Carolina?

The last will and testament is one of the most important documents in estate planning. A will allows the person making the will (the testator) to name recipients of his or her property, to explain how property will be distributed upon his or her death, and to name an executor to manage the probate process.

Under North Carolina law, the following are the requirements for a person to make a valid will:

  • The person must be of sound mind
  • The person must be at least 18 years old

Once a person meets the requirements for making a will, then the will must have the following elements in order to be valid:

  • The will must be written – either typed or in the testator’s own handwriting
  • The will must be signed by the testator
  • The will must be signed by two witnesses who were present when the testator executed the document

To be clear, “holographic wills,” or wills that are handwritten can be valid under North Carolina law (even though they may not be valid in other states). However, it is important to keep in mind that a “nuncupative will,” or a will that is made orally, typically will not be valid in North Carolina even if there are multiple witnesses.

Health Care and Estate Planning in North Carolina

An essential part of any estate planning process is making a plan for health-related issues. Under North Carolina law, anyone who is thinking about estate planning in North Carolina should discuss these documents with their attorney:

Health Care Power of Attorney:

This document allows a person to name another person as his or her health care power of attorney. This document gives the named person the ability to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself. For example, if you become incapacitated and potentially need lifesaving surgery, the person you have named as a health care power of attorney will be able to step into your shoes to make that decision for you.

Advance Directive for a Natural Death:

This document is also known as a “Living Will.” Unlike a will in which you name beneficiaries and outline how your property will be distributed in the event of your death, this form gives instructions to health care providers about your choices related to health care. In particular, a living will allow you to say whether you want to receive life-prolonging measures under certain medical circumstances if you are incapacitated and cannot make such a decision for yourself.

Your Monroe estate planning attorney can also speak with you about HIPAA authorization forms and other related health care matters that accompany the process of estate planning.

Contact a Monroe Estate Planning Lawyer

While the future is unpredictable, smart and effective planning can protect the interests of you and your loved ones. By developing estate planning documents, you and your family will be assured that valuable assets are protected, minors and heirs are provided for, fewer taxes are paid and probate is simplified or avoided. Preparation of appropriate documents can assure the distribution of your property in the manner that you desire, in an efficient and orderly fashion.

Each client has different needs and desires. However, there are several key documents that are necessary to a complete estate plan, including wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney. It is important to seek the legal guidance and advice of experienced estate lawyers in estate planning.

At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, each estate planning attorney can help you create a custom estate plan while offering insightful and personalized support. We provide comprehensive legal services within the field of estate planning, including the preparation, implementation, and administration of necessary documents. After examining and understanding your family’s personal situation and your goals for protecting them, we offer superior guidance in the effective completion of all necessary documents, including:

  • Health Care Powers of Attorney
  • Incompetency
  • Living Wills
  • Power of Attorney
  • Wills

Everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, should work with an estate planning lawyer to develop a will and to execute documents related to health care and finances. If you have minor children, estate planning is particularly important to ensure that you name the guardian of your choice for your children and that you make plans for their future. An experienced Monroe, NC estate planning lawyer can begin working with you today. Contact Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP to learn more about the services we provide to clients in North Carolina.

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