Creating a last will and testament is a very important part of the estate planning process. Your will outlines your wishes for what should happen to your property and assets after you die, and it can be an important tool in making sure that your family is taken care of when you are no longer able to care for them. Creating a will is a detailed and serious process, and you definitely want to be sure the will you create is valid and will be recognized in the state of North Carolina. Read on to learn more about the requirements for creating a will that will stand the test of time in North Carolina.
Can Anyone Create a Will?
Anyone can create a will in North Carolina as long as they are at least 18 years of age and of sound mind at the time the will is created. Any will that is created under duress or that is created when the testator (the person the will is for) is not cognitively capable of understanding what they are creating or signing will not be valid in North Carolina. Being “of sound mind” means that the testator has a clear understanding of what possessions they own, what the relationship is between them and the people receiving those possessions, and what the effect of the last will and testament will be. With the rising numbers of Americans falling ill with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to ensure that a will is created before a victim of these or other diseases becomes unable to understand these basic ideas.
Can a Will Be Digital?
While some states are beginning to accept electronic documents as valid wills, North Carolina is not one of them. In our state, there must be a hard copy of the will, on paper, signed by the testator and two witnesses. Your will cannot be audio, video, or any other digital file. North Carolina does allow oral wills if the testator is deemed to be in their final illness or in imminent peril of death. Such an oral will must be spoken in front of two competent witnesses whom you have specifically asked to be witnesses, and the oral will can only dispose of personal property.
Are There Other Requirements for a Will to Be Valid in NC?
In addition to the testator being of age and of sound mind, the will must be signed by two witnesses. The witnesses must also be competent, and must be disinterested parties, meaning that they will not benefit from the will. You must sign the will in front of these two witnesses, and they must sign in front of you. Wills need not be notarized in North Carolina, but having your and your witnesses’ signatures notarized will make the probate process faster and easier. The court must contact the two witnesses to “prove” the will if the signatures are not notarized.
Want to learn more about creating a valid will? We’d love to help! Contact Craig Associates, PC at 828-944-4798 or contact us online to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and learn more today.