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

UPDATED: May 21, 2014

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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


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

Answered 8 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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