What Is a Legal Will in the State of North Carolina?

by April Kohl

    Wills in North Carolina can take many forms, depending on the circumstances. However, for each form of will to be declared valid by a North Carolina probate court, the will must conform to the requirements of the North Carolina state code Chapter 31 for the type of will being used.

    Attested Wills

    Attested wills are what most people would consider a “standard” will. They are written by the testator, the legal term for a person writing a will, and signed before two competent witnesses who must also sign the will. They are often typed or word-processed for clarity, but a handwritten will is also acceptable in North Carolina. The testator must be 18 or more and of sound mind for an attested will to be legal.

    Holographic Wills

    A holographic will is a will that is handwritten by the testator. A holographic will does not require witnesses, and any writing on the will by another person will not affect its validity providing the meaning of any part of the will is not affected. North Carolina allows holographic wills written in the hand of another, provided the testator wrote her name in her own handwriting in or on the will, and also signed it.

    Nuncupative Wills

    Nuncupative wills are oral wills made by a person who, according to the North Carolina state code section 31-3.5, suffers a “last sickness” from which he does not survive, or he is in immediate danger of dying from some other cause. The testator must make the will before two competent witnesses whom he has asked to bear witness.


    For a will requiring witnesses to be legal in North Carolina, the witnesses must be regarded as competent under state law. The North Carolina state code does not define what “competent” means, however. Furthermore, section 31-10 of the state code provides that a witness may be a beneficiary to the will only where there are at least two other disinterested witnesses can attest to the validity of the will.

    About the Author

    Based in the United Kingdom, April Kohl has been writing since 1992, specializing in science and legal topics. Her work has appeared on the Second Life News Network website and in British Mensa's "LSQ" magazine. Kohl holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Durham University and a diploma in English law from the Open University.

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