Does a Will that has not been notarized or filed have any legal force?

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Does a Will that has not been notarized or filed have any legal force?

I lived with a man for 11 years but we never married. Then he died. He had a Will but never filed it. His wishes were that I get the house and raise his children. Now his sister is telling me that the state may take the property. I have a copy of the Will but it was never notarized or filed. What do I do. I am 31 years old with 2 children of my own and his 2 children.

Asked on May 21, 2014 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  It is my understanding that the state of North Carolina does not require that the signature of the testator (the person) or the witnesses be notarized or filed. So what I would do is to go and see an attorney right away and have he or she prepare the necessary papers (Probate Petition) to file in the Probate Court and have his wishes fulfilled.  Now, I think that you are going to have a fight on your hands from his family so gear up for that and the Will may not be enough to have you become the legal guardian of the children but it is a good start.  Good luck.


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