Common Parts of a Will

Written by Jonathan Breeden

May 8, 2019

Estate planning is a necessary part of life, but one that some resist. A recent survey by the American Association of Retired People indicated about 60% of U.S. adults have not made plans regarding end of life matters. An experienced will attorney can help you understand the parts of a will, and help you draft the necessary documents to ensure your will is compliant with the law.

You may only need a will to distribute your assets and set your final arrangements. But some people require guardianship details for their minor children and other arrangements to be made. No matter what your circumstances, however, a lawyer at Breeden Law Office can help you create a will that suits your needs. To schedule an initial consultation of your case, call (919) 661-4970 today, or reach out through the online form.

Basics of NC Wills

For a valid will in North Carolina, the following are required:

  • The testator (you, as the person making the will) must be at least 18-years-old.
  • The testator must be of sound mind.
  • The testator must sign the will.
  • The notarized signatures of two witnesses who were present at the creation of your will.

Wills in NC can be written or oral. While North Carolina law recognizes handwritten wills, such documents must meet strict criteria. The same holds true for oral wills, which have several restrictions under state law. Making sure that a will is legally valid is an important part of your estate planning.

What’s in a Will

Most wills have common sections. For instance, there is an opening portion where you might find the standard “being of sound mind” text, along with the date and location of where the document was drafted and executed. Other common parts of a will include:

Name of Your Executor

The executor will administer your estate after you pass. You can name anyone that you trust to carry out your wishes. It does not have to be your spouse or next-of-kin.


These are the people you want to give your assets to after your death. You can be very specific, including language such as, “to my daughter, Alice, my wedding rings.” You can also remain general, stating, “to my children, the entirety of my estate, split equally.” Note that a beneficiary of the will can serve as a witness to its execution, but there must be an additional two disinterested parties as witnesses, or any gift to the beneficiary and their spouse will be void.


In this section, a guardian is named for any minor children you have at the time of execution of the will. If there is a surviving parent, the provision is not triggered. But in the event both parents (or other legal guardians) perish, the guardian named in the will would take custody of the children per your written instructions.

Charity Bequests

Many wills have sections that provide gifts to charity, churches, or educational institutions.

Avoiding Probate Issues and Will Contests

Probate is the process that occurs so your assets can be transferred to your heirs after your death. By having a will, the process is simplified and likely less costly. For your last will and testament to be put into effect in North Carolina, it must be proven in probate court in a court-supervised process.

By working with an experienced attorney, you can lessen the risks of potential heirs contesting your will. Avoiding lengthy and costly will contests are another good reason to avoid reliance on handwritten or oral wills.

Start Your Estate Planning Today

Putting off matters involving death is understandable. But proper estate planning will provide peace of mind to your loved ones. Breeden Law Office can help you find the estate planning options you need to protect your assets and provide for your arrangements. Contact us today at (919) 661-4970 to discuss your estate planning needs.


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