Have You Created a North Carolina Will? An Overview of What You Need to Know

North Carolina WillI’m amazed at how many people haven’t put proper estate planning in place to protect their family in the event something tragic happens to them. The best place to start is with an overview of the North Carolina Will.

Why?

Because when most people think of estate planning, they think of drafting a will. Here is a quick and dirty overview of what it means to have a will drafted in North Carolina. For a more in-depth review of estate planning, you should check out this post. If you have a young family, here is another article that provides more information on what you need to know to protect your family.

What do You need to know about Creating a North Carolina Will?

In North Carolina, and in many other states, the only way you can transfer property is through a signature or through a court order. When you die, you are no longer able to sign your name, so your will is a set of written instructions that tells the probate court how to distribute your property.

Here are just a few of the things that you can pass on through your will:

  • Real Estate
  • Vehicles
  • Bank Accounts
  • Personal Possessions
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry

But that’s not all a North Carolina will can do. A will also lets you name a personal representative, or executor, to manage all of your affairs after your death.

In addition, if you have minor children, you can use a will to name long-term guardians so that they will be taken care of after your passing. This is especially important if you are divorced with sole custody, if your spouse has pre-deceased you, or if you and your spouse were to die at the same time in an accident.

Who Can Execute a Will?

In North Carolina, you must be 18 years of age or older, and of “sound mental capacity” to execute a will. You also must execute your will with the “requisite formality”, which means having the appropriate number of witnesses and having your signature notarized.

When Should You Put Your Will in Place?

As a very basic level of estate planning, every adult over the age of 18 should have a will in place. Even if it does nothing more than name a personal representative and give everything to your parents, (if you were still in college, for example), you should have a will.

But as you get older, get married, have kids, and start to acquire assets, the importance of having some estate planning in place becomes more and more important.

And getting a will drawn up is the starting point in this process.

Why is it so Important to have a North Carolina Will?

If you die without a will in place, it could cause a lot of problems for your loved ones, especially if you leave behind significant assets or children. Instead of having a say in how your assets are distributed, your possessions will pass according to the intestacy laws in your state. In North Carolina, this is call the North Carolina Intestate Succession Statute.

Because your assets will have to pass according to the laws in your state, your estate will also have to go through a process called probate. Probate has a number of disadvantages, not the least of which is that is can take a long time (6-9 months or longer) to complete, it is expensive (roughly 5% of the value of your gross estate), and the court will decide how to divide your assets rather than you having a say in the process.

Going through a Divorce? Consider a Divorce Will…

If you are going through a divorce in North Carolina, estate planning is probably not high on your list of priorities. But it should be. For our divorce clients, we offer a little-known service called a “divorce will”. Click here to learn more.

How Can You Get a Will Drafted?

In order to get a will drafted in North Carolina, you can meet with a family wealth lawyer from The Hart Law Firm. We will help you to make decisions on how to divide up your assets, who should have a say in the event of your incapacity, and who will take care of your children after you are gone.

You can start this process by filling out a contact form to request a family wealth planning session with a lawyer from our office, or by calling us directly at (919) 460-5422.