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8 Questions about Creating a Will in North Carolina

Creating a Will is something many people put off. We don’t want to think about what happens after we die, and we always think we have more time to get our Will done.

This New Year’s, it’s time to make a resolution: get your Will done as soon as possible. Creating a Will with your attorney is easier and probably less expensive than you think. We often hear questions about the process, so here are some of the most frequent questions along with answers:

How much does it cost to create a Will?

An attorney can help you through the process and ensure professional aid when drafting your Will. Prices can start as low as $200.00 to get the Will done, so it’s very economical, even when you get an attorney to help you.

While there are services online that help with Wills, some of these do not create valid documents. Please ask us about a particular service you are considering.

How long does it take to create a Will?

Creating a Will may be done quickly or take weeks to complete. This all depends on your situation. If you have few assets, not a lot of property, and one or two beneficiaries, creating a Will can be as quick as a few days. Wills take longer if your estate is more complicated.

Do I need an attorney? Can I hand write my Will?

This all depends on your situation and finances. Of course, having a qualified expert on your side will aid you tremendously since attorneys know the rules of the game and how to benefit you the most in the end. You are not only paying for the Will, but also to ensure that proper measures are taken for all your assets.

North Carolina considers holographic (handwritten) Wills legal if found after death in place intended for safekeeping. However, there is no guarantee this Will may be found or entered into the record, so it’s best to at least make someone aware of its existence if you do not want to create an official document with an attorney.will and trust

Should my spouse and I have a joint Will or separate Wills?

We do not recommend a joint Will because you cannot probate them separately, thus this makes it very difficult to probate the Will and administer the estate of the second spouse to die.  Also, the surviving spouse needs to have the ability to make changes to his or her Will, which is very difficult to do with a joint Will.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will in North Carolina, then your estate is distributed according to intestacy laws. Your property will be divided amongst your closest relatives – your spouse and children. If you are not married and don’t have children, then your property is distributed to your parents, if living, or to your aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, if your parents are not living upon your death. If not survived by any family members, your estate may escheat to the State of North Carolina, to be held in a fund that may be able to be claimed by some distant family member in the future, if that family member is aware of the existence of the fund and makes a claim.

Where should I keep my Will?

You need to store your Will in a place that is safe from water, fire, and smoke damage. You also need a place that is safe from theft. We recommend that you allow the Clerk of Court in the county in which you reside to deposit your Will for safekeeping.

Some people prefer to store their Will in a safe deposit box at the bank or in their home. If you do choose to use a safe deposit box, make sure your executor and beneficiaries know where it is and how to open it. Also, grant your executor the legal ability to take possession of your Will upon your death by making sure they can open your safe deposit box after you die.

Whom should I name as executor?

Your executor should be someone that you trust and have known for a very long time. This person will have complete access to your Will, and the obligation to make any financial decisions needed upon your death. Consider immediate family members and your spouse before anyone else.

How often should I update my Will?

We suggest that you look at your Will every couple of years. Changes need to be made due to certain circumstances. Consider the list below.

  • Changes in the law
  • Change in finances (successes and failures)
  • Change in your health
  • Change in committed relationships
  • Becoming a parent or grandparent
  • Losing a spouse or children

If you find yourself in any of these situations, update your will as soon as possible so that your assets can be divided exactly as you plan. Otherwise, you may leave your family with a state or court-ordered decision.

If you have any more questions about what is best for you and your family’s future, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us today for a free consultation and let Kelly and West protect you and the ones who matter the most.

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