Creating a last will and testament document is extremely important, especially if you have a significant amount of assets and numerous people who could lay claim to them following your death. Even if you do not have a great deal of property or have no particular desires as to who should receive it after you pass away, it is still a good idea to draft a will so you can make arrangements. Creating a will can help your loved ones avoid confusion and conflict after you’re gone, which can help them recover and move forward with life. Regardless of what you want your will to address, you should strongly consider retaining help from a Cary wills lawyer while drafting it. An experienced trusts and estates attorney could help ensure your will is clearly written and legally enforceable so that you can continue your life with security and peace of mind.
Are you interested in creating a will? Contact a wills attorney from Cary Estate Planning to schedule a free consultation.
The most common use of a will is to designate which parties will receive certain assets and property after your death. If someone dies without a will, or if property owned solely in their name is not included in their last testament, their assets may be subject to division based on North Carolina’s intestate succession, which prioritizes immediate family members first when distributing property. This means that your assets could end up in the wrong hands. However, wills can also be used to address several other crucial matters, such as determining who will become the legal guardian of a decedent’s children and who will manage property willed to minor children on their behalf until they come of age. Perhaps most importantly, a will can name a specific person to be its executor, meaning they are responsible for ensuring the will’s terms are followed and completing other estate administration duties. It is not required by law to retain legal counsel when drafting a will. However, a trusted advisor can help ensure a will is effective and enforceable, especially if someone intends to leave a close family member out of their plans or make any stipulation someone could contest in court.
There are three types of wills a court in Cary recognize as valid, the most typical of which is an attested written will. As per North Carolina General Statutes §31-3.3, an attested written will is only valid if it is signed by the testator or a person in the drafter’s presence specifically directed to sign on their behalf, as well as two witnesses. If applicable, a handwritten will found alongside other essential papers and documents may be recognized and enforced as a valid holographic will as per N.C.G.S. §31-3.4, even without any signatures from attesting witnesses. An orally dictated will regarding what should be done to personal property immediately before their death in the presence of two witnesses could also be recognized. This is known as a nuncupative will and is defined in N.C.G.S. §31-3.5. Any will can be revoked later by a subsequent written will, provided the old one is physically destroyed or specifically declared invalid by either the testator or a person in their presence acting on their behalf. A local, qualified wills lawyer could further clarify how to adjust to an existing will.
Wills are one of the most important aspects of an effective estate plan. They allow you to do more than elect who will be your beneficiaries.
Here are some other benefits of including a will in your estate plan.
Wills allow you to appoint a guardian to care for your minor children in your absence. This can include directions to the people you appoint regarding how you want them to raise your children. Without a will, there is a higher potential for a custody feud between family members. By outlining the decision clearly in your will, you save your family from the emotional headache of a court battle.
If you are married with minor children, passing away without a will can require a substantial amount of your estate to be distributed to your children instead of being distributed to your spouse. However, federal law does require any inheritance given to minor children to be held in a trust until they reach age 21. This means that instead of your surviving spouse having complete control over the family finances and being able to do what they think is suitable with what you left for them, they must hold a portion of it aside, in trust, for the child’s benefit only. Proper planning can prevent this administrative and legal headache.
Your will prevents the Courts from deciding how your assets will be distributed. The State of North Carolina’s default rules of intestate succession applies in the absence of a will. Often, the State’s rules do not align with your personal wishes. Take control of your assets and your family’s future with will-based estate planning.
While there are generally few requirements for creating a valid and enforceable will, getting the most out of this document can take some significant legal know-how. Fortunately, an experienced trust and estate planning attorney can help ensure your will addresses all your property and serve your best interests. A North Carolina family estate planning attorney could answer any questions you have and help you get started with this legal process during an initial consultation. To schedule a meeting, contact our law firm today.