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On Using Electronic Wills in North Carolina

North Carolina estate planning attorneys tend to get a lot of questions about wills and how to use them. Even though wills are fairly basic legal documents, they play vital roles in any estate plan. Every competent adult needs to have a last will and testament made as soon as they turn 18.

Yet, even though wills are important and every state has specific laws that cover them, these laws aren’t always so quick to change with new technology. The vast majority of people today create their wills after consulting with an estate planning lawyer who then prints the document out after having created it on some type of word processing software. Naturally, this causes many people to wonder if having a digital or electronic will is enough. After all, isn’t it the same thing?

Not really. Even though the ability to create electronic wills might seem like a good idea, you cannot rely on a solely electronic will in North Carolina.

Limited Acceptance of Electronic Wills in North Carolina

The law is often slow to adapt to changing technology. The acceptance of digital or electronic wills is still in its earliest days. Only one state has a statute that specifically addresses electronic wills, while a court in at least one other state has ruled that digital wills are legally acceptable. However, North Carolina does not recognize electronic wills as valid. If you want to make a will in North Carolina you have to do it the old-fashioned way.

North Carolina Wills

The old-fashioned way in North Carolina is the printed way. In order to make a will in North Carolina you have to print the document. In that document you have to express your wishes about certain choices available to you, such as inheritances, guardianships for your young children, and who you want your executor to be.

After making these choices in writing you must then sign your will. You must also do so in the presence of two capable adult witnesses, and then have the witnesses sign after witnessing you sign.

Digital Planning

Even though North Carolina law does not explicitly accept electronic wills, there are digital or electronic issues you need to think about when making your will or your estate plan. For example, if you have any kind of e-mail account, online social media accounts, or any other type of digital asset, you’ll want to think about how you can access this information and transfer it after you are gone. This also holds true if you have any important documents on your computer, such as financial or tax information or even family photographs. In any event, creating a digital estate plan that contains your specific wishes is something you need to do after speaking to your estate planning lawyer.

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