While it isn’t absolutely necessary to have an attorney draw up your will, or to even have a will at all, it is recommended if you have more than a few assets, especially if you feel there is a possibility of contestation. A lawyer who has experience executing wills can make sure that there are no loopholes.
Let’s say you decide not to write a will at all. In that case, in North Carolina (and in fact the majority of the United States) your closest in kin will be given all your possessions, including property and any finances. This is called the intestacy law. First it will go to your spouse. If you do not have a spouse, then it goes to your children. If you don’t have children, then it goes to your sibling. And so on and so on down the line until a relative is found who can accept.
It should be noted that if you have stepchildren who you have not been adopted, they would not be included in this line; they will have to be formally adopted, or written into a will if you would like them to have part or all of the inheritance.
In the few exceptions where there is no next of kin at all, the property will be absorbed by the state, property that could have been given to a charity of your choice.
What happens to your property isn’t the only consideration. In the case of living wills, you can make the decision ahead of time what you would like to happen in the case of a coma or any other instance when you are on life support. When such a living will is not in place, your family is set to the task of making that difficult decision for you.
Writing a will, while maybe not the most pleasant of tasks, is something that will give peace of mind to your loved ones. It is surely a reasonable trade for a short time sitting down with a lawyer.
(Articles on this blog are provided for informational purposes only. Use of this blog does not provide or replace individualized legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, please speak with one of our attorneys, who can offer legal advice specific to your circumstances.)