A will is a legally binding document that lays out an individual’s after-death plans for his or her property and affairs. It is not required that one has a will, however, if you do not specify what happens to your belongings after you are gone, North Carolina will dispose of your property according to the general rules of inheritance. While you do not necessarily need an attorney while drafting your will, it is highly encouraged in order to reassure you that your will complies with all North Carolina statutes. Creating a will on your own, and having it bring about what you anticipated, can be complicated.
In that state of North Carolina, you must sign your will in the presence of two witnesses. If you are unable to sign your own will, a witness may do it for you. Your witnesses do not have to read the will or know its contents. The law demands that the testator – the person making the will – declares in the presence of their two witnesses that he or she intends to sign the document as a Last Will and Testament. There are no criteria when choosing whom the witnesses are, however, it is preferred that they are two impartial individuals that have no interest in the testator’s estate.
While a valid will does not require any type of seal or notarization, it does allow the testator and witnesses to complete a notarized affidavit at the time the will is signed. A notarized affidavit holds the same legal power as if the parties testified in court under oath. This notarized affidavit will make the will “self-proving,” meaning that when the will is filed after the testator’s death, the court does not have to make a separate inquiry to determine the validity of the signatures of the testator and the witnesses.
North Carolina accepts three different variations of wills. The most traditional will is known as an attested will, which means that the will is typed up as an official document and signed by the testator and two witnesses. The other two formats for a valid will in North Carolina include handwritten and oral wills.
A handwritten will, also referred to as a holographic will, is a valid will in North Carolina as long as the entirety of the will is in your handwriting and is found after your death. A handwritten will is valid without witnesses; however, the testator must still sign it.
A nuncupative will is an oral will made in the presence of at least two witnesses. Majority of States do not recognize oral wills, but North Carolina may if the testator’s death is quickly approaching. North Carolina only permits oral wills for the distribution of personal property – real estate can only be disposed of by an attested or holographic will.