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In the great state of North Carolina there are only 2 requirements to make a valid will, which can be found in N.C.G.S. § 31-1. First, you have to be 18 and, second, you have to be of sound mind. That’s it. Verifying someones age is usually the easy part. Where trouble most often arises is in the context of sound mind.

To be of sound mind the testator (testator is a fancy word for the person whose will it is) must know 3 things. First, they must know the natural objects of their bounty (usually, this is just their kin). Second, they have to understand the nature and extent of their property. Lastly, and the trickiest, they have to know the “manner” in which they desire to dispose of their property and the effect that “manner” of disposition will have on their property.

Issues involving sound mind sometimes arise when a will is made shortly before the impending death of the testator (remember that fancy word). Some of the most common reasons it pops up at this point is due to the effects of pain medication, the impact of a mental impairment, such as late stage dementia or Alzheimer’s, or any other situation you can imagine that could cause a mental weakness. The point is, sometimes it is too late to share your final wishes even if you are still alive.


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