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New Bern Wills Lawyers Help You Plan Your Legacy

North Carolina wills attorneys draft documents that reflect your wishes

If you’ve put off creating a last will and testament, there is no better time than now. Every adult should have a will, and Carolina Law Group, led by Tommy Kellis, can provide the guidance you need to execute yours. A will is an important way you can give your loved ones peace of mind in the event of your death. It is your final expression of affection, and it also spares them anguish and confusion when they have to settle your affairs without knowing your wishes. Our estate planning attorneys are ready to help you gain peace of mind with a valid will that expresses your wishes.

What to include in your will

A last will and testament allows you to transfer assets according to your wishes. Your will contains provisions for:

  • Real property and personal property — Your will should contain a complete list of your real estate, financial assets and personal property.
  • Beneficiaries — You must select the people and organizations that receive bequests.
  • An executor — You can name a party to execute the terms of your will. However, the court must approve the appointment.
  • Guardianship — You can suggest someone to act as guardian of your minor children. Whoever you select must apply to the court and gain approval.

Certain property, such as a co-signed deed or a joint savings account, passes automatically to a co-owner or heir. You could also place property in a trust, so it can pass to your heirs without probate.

Requirements for a valid will in North Carolina

North Carolina law states that a valid will must meet three essential criteria:

  • The testator must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind
  • The testator must intend for the document to operate as a will
  • The will must be in writing

Written wills fall into one of two categories:

  • Attested will — This document is signed by two disinterested adults, who either watch the testator sign or hear directly from the testator that he or she previously signed the will. The witnesses must sign in the testator’s presence. It is best that a notary record the will’s execution, in case one or both of the witnesses pass away before the testator.
  • Holographic will — This is a will drafted entirely in the testator’s own handwriting. It is valid provided that the testator signs the will and keeps it in a safe place.

North Carolina law has a limited exception for an oral or nuncupative will. The testator of an oral will must be terminally ill or “in imminent peril of death,” and must make the declaration in front of two competent witnesses simultaneously.

What happens if you die without a will in NC?

If you die without a will, a situation known as intestacy, state law determines who receives your property. These statutory heirs, or heirs at law, include your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. If you have no qualifying heirs, your property reverts to the state.

If you forgot to include any property in your will of which you are the sole owner, this creates a situation known as partial intestacy, where the state treats the excluded property as if there was no will, distributing it to statutory heirs.

How to modify a will in North Carolina

After you create your will, you retain the right to invalidate or alter it. If you create a new will from scratch, the new will invalidates the old. You can also amend a will with a codicil that only overrides a specific portion of the existing will.

Contact our New Bern estate planning lawyers to discuss your will

The Carolina Law Group, led by Tommy Kellis, drafts wills for clients in New Bern, Morehead City and surrounding areas. Don’t put off planning your legacy. Call us today at 252-636-3737 or contact us online to schedule an estate planning consultation.

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