Creating a Last Will and Testament is both important and advantageous for anyone, no matter their background. The process of creating a Will is similar no matter your location, but there are some key differences from state to state that you must be aware of. Each U.S. state governs its own set of laws regarding estates and the requirements for creating a Will. This means that in order for your Will to be valid, you must follow the specific requirements of your state. To make your online Will in North Carolina, be sure you follow the requirements set forth by North Carolina law.
What You Need to Know About Making a Will Online in North Carolina
The process of creating online Wills in North Carolina is determined by its laws, which can be found in the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 31 Wills Article 1 Execution of Wills. In the next few sections, Trust & Will breaks down the legal requirements of creating an online Will by answering some of the most popular questions.
How Much Does a Will Cost in North Carolina?
The cost of creating a Will in North Carolina depends on several factors including the complexity of the estate, the size of the estate, and whether or not you choose to work with an attorney.
An attorney will charge anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Their methods of charging a client are either a flat fee or hourly billing. A flat fee is beneficial because you’ll know exactly how much you will pay for your attorney’s services. However, many attorneys bill by the hour. While this option can be more cost-effective if they would spend less time on a project than the market rate for a flat rate, they may bill you for a great number of hours if your estate is large or complex.
This brings us to the second factor, which is the complexity of the estate. A simple and straightforward Will is typically more affordable than one that is complex. For instance, it may require detailed instructions and includes a Trust. Another factor that can drive up the cost is the number of beneficiaries named to the estate. Setting up a Guardianship as well as addressing assets located in another state are other examples of factors that require additional paperwork and could incur more costs.
An affordable alternative to consider is creating your Will online in North Carolina. As long as you select a platform, service, or tool that is legally compliant in the Tar Heel State, you can execute a perfectly valid online Will at the fraction of the cost. The next few sections will talk about the legality of online Wills in North Carolina and the requirements to create one.
Are Online Wills Legal in NC?
Yes, online Wills are legal in North Carolina. As long as you are at least 18 years old and are of “sound mind,” then you are legally able to create your own Will online. You can use a comprehensive estate planning platform such as Trust & Will, which will guide you through easy prompts and steps to help you create a legally valid North Carolina Will. Note that you will still have to print out your online Will, as the Old North State does not recognize digital-only Wills. We will discuss this more in the next section regarding the requirements for online Wills in North Carolina.
What are the Requirements for an Online Will to Be Valid in North Carolina?
The following outlines the legal requirements for an online Will to be valid in North Carolina:
The Testator (the person writing the Will) must sign the Will or acknowledge their signature before two witnesses. These witnesses must be competent, meaning they are capable of making decisions and have the capacity to reason.
After they see the Testator sign the Will, or verify that the Testator acknowledges their own signature on the Will, the witnesses must also sign the Will. While they do not necessarily have to sign the Will in the presence of one another, they must sign it in the Testator’s presence.
The Will must be printed on physical paper. While several states allow digital Wills, North Carolina does not recognize electronic Wills as legally valid. While this may change in the future, for now, your estate planning documents must be in hard copy format with wet ink signatures.
Make sure to choose disinterested parties to witness your Will. While North Carolina does not rule out interested parties as witnesses, any provisions left to them (or their spouses) could be voided.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will in North Carolina?
No, you do not need a lawyer to make a Will in North Carolina. Generally speaking, North Carolina laws do not require you to hire a lawyer to create or execute a valid Will. However, you may want to consult an estate planning professional for advice if you have a large or complex estate, or you have special conditions that you wish to meet.
Otherwise, making your online Will is a solid and convenient option. This is especially so when your wishes are straightforward and your estate is relatively simple. An online estate planning platform will guide you through the process of creating and executing a Will that is compliant in your state.
How Do I Sign an Online Will in North Carolina?
Here are the steps to follow for signing and finalizing your Will in North Carolina:
Print out your Will
Sign your Will in front of two witnesses
Have your two witnesses sign the Will in front of you
These requirements can be found in the North Carolina General Statutes. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Your two witnesses do not necessarily need to see each other sign the Will, although they may. However, each witness has to sign it in front of you. If you have already signed your Will, then your witnesses can also sign the Will after you have given them a verbal acknowledgement that you have signed the Will and that the signature belongs to you.
It is recommended that you use “disinterested” witnesses who don’t have a stake in your estate (someone who won’t inherit anything). An individual who has an interest in your estate (i.e. a beneficiary) may lose their inheritance if they serve as your witness.
A holographic Will that is entirely in your own handwriting does not need to be witnessed.
Does North Carolina Require a Notarized Will?
No, North Carolina does not require a notarized Will in order for it to be legally valid. However, you can get your Will notarized so that it can be “self-proved.” This is allowed in many states.
To be clear, you won’t be getting the Will itself notarized. More specifically, you’ll be getting a separate self-proving affidavit document notarized and attached to the Will instead. If your Will is presented to the probate court, then they must validate it. If the Will is self-proved, then the court likely won’t need to bring the witnesses in to testify the Will’s validity. This can help minimize potential issues and allow the probate process to proceed more quickly.
To make your Will self-proved, you and your witnesses will make sworn statements in the presence of a notary. This will result in the affidavit that you can attach to your Will. You and your witnesses are essentially testifying the authenticity and validity of the Will proactively.
Who Can Witness a Will in North Carolina?
Generally, anyone can witness a Will in North Carolina. However, there is a strong preference that the witness is an individual who does not have an interest in the Testator’s Will or estate. North Carolina law does not automatically invalidate witnesses who are also interested parties (i.e. beneficiaries of the Will), but it is discouraged to help prevent any contests.
Can a Family Member Witness a Will in NC?
Yes, a family member can witness a Will in North Carolina. Per North Carolina statutes, “any person competent to be a witness generally may act as a witness to a Will.” However, it is discouraged for a family member to witness a Will if they are a beneficiary. Read the question and answer above that explains why.
How to Create North Carolina Last Will and Testament Online
The most important takeaway from the discussion thus far is that while you can create your Will online in North Carolina, you must still print it out and sign it with a wet ink signature. This is because North Carolina does not currently recognize fully digital Wills, although this may change in the future as more states adopt laws that enable eWills. However, creating your Will online is still a convenient and affordable alternative to working with an attorney.
With these key points in mind, here are the general steps on how to create a North Carolina Last Will and Testament online:
Select a trusted online estate planning platform, service, or template.
Draft up your Will
Review and finalize your Will
Print out your Will
Sign the Will
Obtain signatures from two witnesses who will testify that you signed the Will or declared that the signature is yours.
Optional: get your Will notarized if you want it to be self-proving
Upload the Will to a secure storage space online, such as a digital vault
Store the hard copy in a secure physical space, such as a safe
Review and revise your Will regularly
What Can I Include in an Online Will in North Carolina?
Now that you have an overview of how to create a Will, you may be wondering what exactly makes up its contents. The contents of a Last Will and Testament vary widely based on an individual’s personal circumstances, as well as the objectives they wish to achieve. Must estate planning platforms such as Trust & Will will guide you through a series of questions and prompts to help you create your Will.
Here are some ideas on what can be included in your online Will:
An inventory of your property and assets
A list of beneficiaries and who should inherit which properties or assets
Your nominated Executor who should handle your estate
A Guardian for any minor or dependent children (or pets)
A named individual to manage property for dependent children
Last wishes regarding your remains, funeral, burial, cremation, etc.
Any final instructions or notes for loved ones
Create Your Online Will in North Carolina Today
When it comes to estate planning, one of the most common questions people ask is if they have to work with an attorney. The psychology behind this question likely has to do with the perceived cost, time, and effort that is associated with attorneys. If these factors are either a concern or a hindrance, then it should be known that there is a great alternative.
Creating an online Will in North Carolina, when appropriate, can be a great alternative to working with an estate planning attorney.
If your estate is relatively simple and straightforward, and you don’t have too many instructions or stipulations to leave behind, then using an online platform or service is perfectly effective. For example, with Trust & Will, you can create a legally valid Will for your state online. You will be guided through a series of questions and prompts that help create your document. Not only does it take away the guesswork and confusion that can come with a complicated process, it is convenient and affordable. Find out more about your option to create your online Will through Trust & Will today.
Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.