Creating an estate plan and crafting your will is essential in ensuring your assets go to the people you choose when you pass away. You might think your work is done after you have a will in place. However, there are several reasons to revisit your will and make changes as your life continues and evolves.

Whether you wish to create a codicil to your will, which is typically used to make minor changes to a will, or wish to start fresh by drafting an entirely new will, it is imperative that either document be executed in accordance with statutory requirements to be valid under the laws of North Carolina.

If you need help updating your will in North Carolina, call Charlotte Estate Planning today. We’ll guide you through the process to make updates if your wishes or intentions change.

Call 704-766-8836 today or contact us to get started.

When Should You Update Your Will?

The circumstances under which you made your original will might not apply anymore or later in your life, especially if you’ve experienced significant life changes. Here are some, but not all, common scenarios when you should consider updating your will:

Family Changes

Giving birth, adopting a child, or getting married or divorced are all big family milestones that should be reflected in your will. You may also want to revisit your estate plan if your children get married or you become a grandparent.

Losing a loved one or other beneficiary is another time when it may be necessary to change your will. For example, you would need to choose a new executor or power of attorney if your designated agent precedes you in death.

Financial Changes

Experiencing a major shift in your income could also be a reason to update your will — for example, buying or selling a business, coming into money, or purchasing a house. If you plan to leave North Carolina or move here from another state, have an estate planning attorney review your will to ensure it meets state-specific requirements.

Other events out of your control could make your estate plan outdated. For example, tax laws change periodically, which could affect the distribution of your estate. That’s why it’s a good idea to check in with an attorney who can keep your will up to date with the latest legal changes.

Why Is it Important to Update Your Will?

Even if you haven’t experienced a significant life event, you should still review your will periodically. You may find that your priorities or relationships shift over time, and making updates ensures your will accurately reflects your wishes.

In addition, an outdated will could contain ambiguous language or provisions that could lead to disputes between beneficiaries. Updating and clarifying your will minimizes the chances of a misunderstanding and can facilitate a smoother distribution of your estate.

How To Change Your Will in North Carolina

If it’s time to update your will, you have two options: creating a new one or amending your existing one with a codicil.

Create a Subsequent Will

Creating a new will is the preferred method of making updates after significant life changes. It’s like starting with a clean slate, allowing you to organize your estate plan with a fresh perspective without worrying about keeping track of previous amendments. This is because creating a new one automatically invalidates the previous ones, so any existing copies are no longer valid. It also allows you to revoke a provision of an old will while maintaining the rest.

You must meet all the requirements to create a new will, just as you did with the original. You must:

  • Be of sound mind
  • Create the will free of undue influence, fraud, or duress
  • Sign the will in front of at least two witnesses
  • Have the new will notarized

Amend Your Current Will with a Codicil

If you don’t want to create a new will, you can also amend your current one with a codicil. A codicil doesn’t replace your old will; instead, it acts as an addendum to alter specific provisions of the original. Parts of the will outside the scope of the codicil remain unchanged, which is why it’s vital to make sure the amendment is clear and free of contradictions.

Just like creating your original will or a new one, codicils must meet North Carolina requirements with proper signatures and notarizations to be valid. Codicils are fine for minor estate plan changes, but it’s important to keep in mind that multiple amendments can lead to confusion. That’s why a new will is usually the better option, especially for major changes.

What to Do after You Update Your Will

As with any important document, you should take steps to protect your will by:

  • Storing it securely in a safe place such as a safety deposit box or with your attorney
  • Informing the executor and other key people about changes made and how to access the new will
  • Make copies of the new will and mark them so they can’t be confused with the original
  • Planning for regular reviews every few years to make additional changes when needed

North Carolina Will Update FAQs

Do I need a lawyer to update my will?

While you aren’t required to hire a lawyer to update your will in North Carolina, it’s advisable to work with one to minimize the risk of errors, ensure all your wishes are accounted for in your estate plan, and ensure your updates are valid under the laws of North Carolina.

Can I use an online will service to make updates?

While there are online options for creating a will, we strongly advise against using these programs. An estate planning attorney can provide personalized guidance based on your wishes and the unique needs of your estate.

What if I die without updating my will or without a will in general?

If you pass away with an outdated will, your assets may not be distributed as you wish if your desires changed since you executed your initial will. Worse yet, if you pass away without a will altogether, your estate will be distributed according to North Carolina’s intestacy laws. This means you won’t have control over your assets, which could lead to complications and disputes among your loved ones.

Time to Update Your Will? Call Charlotte Estate Planning Today

Your will should ensure your wishes are respected and make it simpler to distribute your estate to your loved ones after you’re gone. But your will shouldn’t be locked away and go untouched after it’s done — it should be maintained and updated every so often if you experience a considerable life event.

Whatever prompts you to change your will, Charlotte Estate Planning is here to help. Attorney Ryan Stump knows the ins and outs of North Carolina law, and he’s prepared to help you reach your estate planning goals. From reviewing your current will to drafting a new one or writing a codicil, we’ll provide the support and handle all the details to give you peace of mind about the future of your estate.

Call 704-766-8836 today or contact us to schedule a free consultation.