North Carolina Laws Regarding Wills

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Every state has its own specific statutes when it comes to wills. A will that doesn’t comply with North Carolina’s laws is generally void, and North Carolina will dispose of your property according to rules of inheritance, giving it to your most immediate kin regardless of your intentions. If you write your own will, it is always advisable to use an attorney to review it before you assume it to be valid, according to North Carolina’s statutes.


You should sign your will in front of two witnesses, but if you are not able to, one of your witnesses can do it for you. Your witnesses must also sign the will in your presence, although not necessarily in the presence of each other. If one of your witnesses is also a beneficiary, then you need three witnesses. Two of them must be “disinterested” or not named in your will.

Other Requirements

You must be 18 years old to leave a valid will. North Carolina’s statutes also include a “sound mind” clause, meaning that you must be competent enough to understand the purpose of the will, the nature of your property and your relationship with whomever you are leaving it to. If you are younger than 18 years old but are married, you can also make a will.


Most wills are “attested” wills, meaning that they are in a printed format and signed by you and your witnesses. However, North Carolina also accepts handwritten and oral wills under certain circumstances. An oral will, also called a noncupative will, must be spoken to two witnesses on your deathbed and is valid if you do not survive. A handwritten will, also called a holographic will, is accepted by North Carolina as long as it is entirely in your handwriting and found after your death anywhere among your personal papers or in the possession of someone you entrusted it to. No witnesses are required for holographic wills. They can contain some printed or typewritten words as long as those words don’t pertain to your bequests or intentions.

Disinheritance Rules

North Carolina does not allow you to disinherit your spouse as long as you are currently married and living together. However, if you are divorced after your will is signed and pass away before you can make a new will, any provisions relating to your ex-spouse and any bequests you made to her are extinguished and void. This rule also holds true if you are separated as long as you have a signed settlement agreement between you.

You can disinherit your children as long as you specifically state in your will that this is your intent. If you do not say that you’ve intentionally left nothing to one of your children and he was born after you signed your will, the law may presume that you simply forgot him and the court might award him property.


About the Author

Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.

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