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What is a Will and do you need one?
A Last Will and Testament, or simply a “Will”, is a legal document that allows you to decide who gets your property when you pass away. In order for a Will to be valid in North Carolina, in general it must be signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two witnesses, and it must be notarized. For a detailed list of requirements, see Chapter 31 of the NC Gen. Statute. If you die without a valid Will, then your property will be distributed to your heirs under North Carolina’s Intestate Succession laws.
A Pour-Over Will is a special type of Will where either a portion or all of one’s property is distributed to an already established Trust (to learn more about Trusts, click here).
How is a Will created?
You should always seek the assistance of an attorney when creating a will. If the proper requirements are not met during the execution of your Will, it mightbe deemed invalid by the Court, making it essentially useless. If invalid, your property will be given away according to the law of Instate Succession. A properly executed Will must meet all of North Carolina’s formal requirements.
Changing your Will
You should review your Will every few years to see if it needs to be changed. There are many reasons why someone would want to change their Will. These include:
- Changing your mind about who should inherit your property
- Marriage, death, birth, divorce or separation affecting you or someone named in your Will
- Moving to North Carolina from out of state
- The named executor is now unable or unwilling to serve
If you believe your current Will should be revised, call us to schedule free consultation to review all of your current estate plan documents.
Safekeeping your Will
Your Will can be stored in many different places. Ultimately, it should be stored in a place that it will not be damaged and the Will can be readily found by your heirs. A Will can be stored in the following places:
- Deposit your will for safekeeping at your county courthouse
- Store your will in a safe deposit box at your local bank
- Store your will among your important papers in your home, or in a fireproof box at your home
- Store your orginal Will with your attorney in their Will safe
Nick Fernez leads our Trusts & Estates practice. Please click here to see his biography.