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What is a will and do you need one?
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.
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
What is a Trust?
People often ask about Trusts, and whether it is the right tool for them. Trusts are legal documents that allow assets/property to be held by a third party on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts can be utilized to ensure your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries on the terms you set. Trusts can also be utilized to ensure a loved one with special needs will have sufficient income to last their lifetime. Trusts can also be created as part of a well crafted asset protection plan that will allow a person to receive future Medicaid benefits. As part of our free Estate Plan consultation, we will assess your personal circumstances to determine if a trust would be appropriate for you and your loved ones.
Nick Fernez leads our Trusts & Estates practice. Please click here to see his biography.