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What should I know about creating and revoking a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2022 | Estate Planning |

In North Carolina, estate planning is often pushed off to the side. In some cases, people simply do not want to think about it. In others, they do not think they have sufficient assets or a family to make it a priority. Regardless of the reasons, failure to plan an estate is a misstep that can cause myriad problems for loved ones and more.

To protect your family, it’s important to take the initiative and create an estate plan. Often, people hesitate because they are unsure of how to go about it. They might also be concerned about what the protocol is to change a will. For assistance in these matters, it is important to have professional advice.

What are the legal steps to creating a valid will?

From the outset, it is vital to adhere to the law when creating a will to make sure it is valid. Anyone can make a will if they are at least 18 and are of sound mind. There are different forms of wills including an attested will, a holographic will and a nuncupative will. An attested will is in written form and signed by the testator. There must be a minimum of two witnesses. If the testator is not able to sign the will, then someone else can sign it at their direction.

A holographic will is written in the testator’s handwriting. The entire document must be in that same handwriting to be considered valid. It must also be signed in their own handwriting. There does not need to be an attesting witness to a holographic will. A nuncupative will is made orally. It is generally made when the person is nearing the end of their life or might be nearing the end of their life. It is valid if they die during that time. Two competent witnesses must be present.

How can a will be revoked?

Just because a person completed a will does not mean it needs to remain the same for the duration. It can be revoked and updated as needed. If, for example, a person gets married, gets divorced, has children, has grandchildren, engages in a dispute with a person who was originally an heir or faces other issues that require them to update their will, they can do so.

A will can be revoked if a subsequent will is written to replace it. It can also be revoked by codicil, which is an addition to the existing will. To completely revoke it, the person can destroy it by tearing it, burning it or taking other steps to eliminate it. To revoke a nuncupative will, a new nuncupative will can be created or a subsequent written will or codicil can revoke it.

People need to be aware that if they get married after they have created a will, it is not automatically revoked. If there was no update to a previously created will, the spouse can seek an elective share after the testator’s death. Therefore, when getting married, it may be a wise step to update a will. As for divorce or annulment, it does not automatically revoke the will, but it will revoke provisions in the will for the former spouse.

For all areas of estate planning, it is useful to have experienced advice

Whether a person is thinking about a will, has already created a will or is trying to revoke a will, it is essential to know the facts. Failure to have even a fundamental estate plan can leave the person’s property at the mercy of the state laws for dying intestate. This can lead to disputes among loved ones and a lack of certainty as to what will happen. For any question regarding creating an estate plan, it is beneficial to consult with experienced professionals who are caring and helpful.