Is A Handwritten Will Valid In North Carolina?

Handwritten (also called “holographic”) wills are recognized in the state of North Carolina if they meet the following criteria:

1. The will is written entirely in the testator’s hand. This means that the entire document needs to be written by the person who is giving away their assets.

2. The will must be signed by the testator and contain the person’s name within the will in their own handwriting. 

3. The will is found or kept in a safe place. A safe place is any place where the testator would keep their valuable documents, money, or other effects. Most individuals use a safe or safety deposit box. One case determined that a handwritten will found in a women’s freezer was considered a safe place because she kept other valuables such as cash and the deed to her house in the same place for safekeeping.

However, handwritten wills can be easily disputed.

If you decide to probate the will, meaning to distribute the estate, a probate court must first find the handwritten will valid under North Carolina law. The court will require the testimony of three competent witnesses to corroborate that the handwriting is that of the testator and the will was found in a safe place at the time of the testator’s death. This unavoidable step can cost families a great deal of time and money.

Furthermore, handwritten wills are not recognized in all states. This means if the testator’s will was written in NC, but they have relocated, the will can become invalidated.

To ensure that your will is able to accomplish what you intend, a legal will written by an estate planning attorney is the best way to ensure the proper distribution of your assets. 

For any questions regarding estate planning and the current status of your last will and testament please contact our office for more information!

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