Understanding Attested Written Wills in North Carolina


When it comes to planning for the future, especially in terms of what happens to our possessions after we pass away, having a will is crucial. In North Carolina, the law provides specific guidelines for creating a valid will. One type that is commonly used is known as an "attested written will." But what does that mean, and how do you ensure your will meets the legal requirements? Let's break it down into simpler terms, referencing the North Carolina General Statutes, specifically G.S. 31-3.3.

What is an Attested Written Will?

An "attested written will" sounds complex, but it's actually straightforward. In layman's terms, it's a will that you write down and then have witnessed by others according to the law. North Carolina's statutes lay out clear rules for how this process should happen to make sure your will is legally binding. This is important because it helps prevent any disputes over your will after you're gone.

The Legal Requirements

According to G.S. 31-3.3 of the North Carolina General Statutes, for a written will to be considered valid (or "attested"), it must comply with the following key requirements:

  • It must be in writing. This means the will needs to be physically written down, whether typed or handwritten.

  • The testator (the person making the will) must sign it. If the testator is unable to sign it themselves, they can have someone else do it for them in their presence and by their direction.

  • It must be witnessed. At least two competent witnesses must be present to observe the testator signing the will. These witnesses must also sign the will themselves, acknowledging that they witnessed the testator's signature or acknowledgment of the signature.

An Example in Layman's Terms

Let's say John Doe wants to make sure his assets are distributed according to his wishes after he passes away. He decides to create a will. John writes down how he wants his possessions to be divided among his family and friends. Once he's finished, he calls over two of his neighbors, Jane and Bob, to serve as witnesses. In front of Jane and Bob, John signs his will at the bottom. Then, Jane and Bob each sign the will as well, confirming they saw John sign it. Now, John's will is considered an attested written will under North Carolina law.

Why It Matters

Having your will properly attested is crucial because it ensures your wishes are legally recognized. This can prevent potential disputes among your loved ones and ensure your assets are distributed the way you want. It's about providing peace of mind for yourself and those you care about.

Final Thoughts

Creating a will might seem daunting, but understanding the basics, like what an attested written will involves, can make the process more approachable. If you're considering making a will, it might be a good idea to consult with a legal professional. They can help ensure your will meets all the necessary legal requirements and truly reflects your wishes.

Remember, planning ahead with a properly attested will is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your loved ones. It's not just about the assets you're leaving behind; it's about leaving a legacy of care and consideration.

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