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North Carolina Wills Laws

No one wants to admit that our loved ones won’t be around forever, much less plan for life after they’ve passed away. Not to mention trying to make the same plans for ourselves. Each state can have different rules and regulations regarding how to create and interpret wills, and all of it can seem too complicated to even begin. But here’s a good place to start: a quick summary of state laws regarding wills in North Carolina.

Wills and Testaments

A will is a legally binding document or oral statement (allowed in limited circumstances) that lays out an individual's after-death plans for his or her property and affairs. For example, a person's will might state that his prized record collection should be split equally among his four grandchildren and that he would like his ashes deposited in the Mississippi River. North Carolina will laws are similar to will laws in other states, but (unlike many states) also allow holographic, or handwritten, wills.

Wills Laws in North Carolina

The main provisions of North Carolina's will laws are listed in the table below.

Code Section

§ 31-1, et seq.

Age of Testator

18 years or older and of sound mind

Number of Witnesses

Attested by at least two competent witnesses, each of whom must sign will in presence of testator but need not sign in presence of each other.

Nuncupative (Oral Wills)

Made by person in his last sickness or in such imminent peril of death and who does not survive such sickness or peril and declared to be his will before two competent witnesses simultaneously present and specially requested by him to bear witness thereto.

Holographic Wills

Written entirely in testator's handwriting and subscribed by testator and found after testator's death among his valuable papers or in safe deposit box or other safe place or with some person under his authority for safekeeping; no witness required.

Understanding Wills

North Carolina estate planning laws can contain some strange legal terminology. To clarify, the “testator” is the person whose wishes are described in the will. A “nuncupative” will is one that is oral or spoken, and can generally only cover a limited amount of personal property. And “holographic” refers to a handwritten testament, subject to more scrutiny than a typed or printed will.

North Carolina Wills Laws: Related Resources

Creating a will on your own, and having it accomplish what you intended, can be daunting. For more general information on creating and changing a will, you can visit FindLaw’s wills section. You can also contact a North Carolina wills attorney if you would like legal assistance interpreting or creating a will.

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