A holographic will may be admitted to probate regardless of where it was found, so long as the other requirements for a valid holographic will are present.
Individuals should try to hire estate planning lawyers when they need to draft estate planning documents including a last will and testament. Precise preparation of these documents under state law guidance will enable smooth transfer of assets and property. Common requirements usually include the person making the will, referred to as the testator, to sign and have witnesses signing who are present at the same time, and must personally witness either the signing of the will or the testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or of the will. In North Carolina if a person writes up a will and signs it themselves, it may still be considered valid. This is called a holographic will which is recognized by the State. North Carolina estate planning lawyers can assist surviving loved ones and beneficiaries with the questions surrounding a holographic will document.
A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and end of life issues outlined because they are very personal matters. Experienced Charleston estate planning lawyers guide clients to make sure a will contains the legally necessary language so a person’s wishes can be honored at the time of their death according to North Carolina and federal laws.
2021 changes to law
On July 8, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper signed SL 202185, which amended North Carolina’s holographic will statute to remove the location requirement, with the new version of the statute going into effect that same day. Now, a holographic will may be admitted to probate regardless of where it was found, so long as the other requirements for a valid holographic will are present.
In North Carolina, a holographic will was previously defined as a will (1) written entirely in the handwriting of the testator, (2) signed by the testator (or contains “the testator’s name written in or on the will in the testator’s own handwriting”), and (3) “found after the testator’s death among the testator’s valuable papers or effects, or in a safe-deposit box or other safe place where it was deposited by the testator or under the testator’s authority, or in the possession or custody of some person with whom, or some firm or corporation with which, it was deposited by the testator or under the testator’s authority for safekeeping.” North Carolina law states that a holographic will is valid and enforceable so long as the material provisions are followed.
North Carolina courts can find holographic wills to be enforceable and they should only be used when the formality surrounding a properly executed will cannot be followed, especially if an estate is large or has controversial language including disinherited individuals for example. Consultation with a lawyer is important to understand the distinction between written wills and holographic wills. When possible, it is best to hire estate planning lawyers to draft essential documentation to minimize legal challenges to a deceased’s estate. Consultation with tax lawyers is also a prudent decision so they can review estate planning documents and explain how tax burdens will be managed.