A last will and testament can ensure your wishes are honored when you die. But if your will isn’t valid, those wishes might not actually be carried out, and instead the laws of “intestate succession” would apply, meaning that the state decides who gets your stuff, and it’s very likely not to be who you would choose. Is your will valid?
If you’ve created a will online, we congratulate you for doing SOMETHING, but we strongly recommend that you have it reviewed and make sure it does what you want, and is actually legally valid. We’ve seen it far too many times: someone THINKS they’ve created a will, because they did DIY Planning and something is better than nothing, right? But the SOMETHING was the WRONG THING, and their family is left to deal with the fallout, confusion and complications that result.
The validity of a will depends on where you live when you die, as laws vary from state to state. North Carolina requires Wills to meet the following criteria in order to be legally binding:
The Essential Requirements
- Only adults 18 years or older may create a legally valid will.
- The person signing the Will must be of sound mind and capable of understanding what they’re signing, what their intentions are for their estate, who they want to be a beneficiary, and what their relationships are with those people.
- You must not be under any duress when you sign the Will.
- If you cannot personally sign your Will due to a physical condition, you must be able to direct someone else to sign it for you.
- Your Will must have at least two witnesses—who are not beneficiaries— and a Notary Public acknowledgment.
You may write a holographic will. A holographic Will is a handwritten Will. It must be written completely in your own handwriting. No other printed material (typed) may be on the page. You should sign and date it, but no witnesses or notaries are required.
Is a Will All You Need?
A will is a foundation for an estate plan, but it is not all you need. A will does not keep your assets out of probate. It does not operate in the event of your incapacity. A will alone does not ensure your loved one’s receive your assets protected from unnecessary conflict or creditors.
You need to have a comprehensive plan with a Power of Attorney, Health Care Directives. It is also really important that you understand what you need.
The best way to ensure your will is legally valid is to consult with a Personal Family Lawyer®. We can confirm your will is valid under our state’s laws and evaluate your estate plan to ensure it will protect your wishes and provide for your family according to your wishes in the event of your incapacity, or when you die.