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Elder Law Articles

Articles on Elder Law Topics

Do I need to make a Last Will and Testament?

aking a last will and testament is crucial in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) after your death. North Carolina wills give the testator, the person writing the will, the opportunity to ensure that a spouse, children, other loved ones, and even pets are taken care of after his death. You may also choose to leave property or make other gifts to charitable organizations through your North Carolina will.

In contrast to a last will and testament, a living will dictates instructions to be followed should you become incapacitated and incapable of making decisions regarding your health and medical care. A living will, called an “advance health care directive” under North Carolina law, would take effect during a person’s life if necessary, while a last will and testament does not take effect until after the testator’s death.

Do You Need a Last Will and Testament?

Although a last will and testament is not legally required, without a will, the laws of intestacy will determine the distribution of an estate's assets. The outcome under intestacy rules may not coincide with the decedent's wishes, however, which means it is generally advisable to create a last will and testament.

One of the greatest benefits of having a last will and testament is that it allows the testator to choose the personal representative of the estate, the person who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes contained in the will; in the absence of a will, the courts would make the decision for you.

A testator can use a will for various purposes, but the most important is to express how assets such as homes, vehicles, business holdings, and bank accounts, should be divided upon the testator’s death. A North Carolina last will and testament can also allow you to name someone as the legal guardian of your children.

Dana Wilson
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