Wallis, Bowens, Averhart & Associates, PLLC

MYTHS ABOUT WILLS: Things You Thought You Knew

There are MANY MYTHS about Wills and how they work in probate

Common Misunderstandings:

  •  If I write a will, my estate will be simple, and it won’t have to go through probate
  • If nothing is contested we do not need to do probate
  • We need to use that other asset to satisfy the bequest in the Will
  • I have a right to an inheritance from my parents-I can’t leave my children out

The Real Story:

  • A will is simply a document that controls what happens to the items going into probate. 
  • Probate is a court process in which the Executor is supervised as he follows the rules to pay taxes and debts and give the rest to the heirs.
  • Probate does not start until an Executor asks to be sworn in and the court authorizes action.
  • Any asset with beneficiaries named elsewhere is not controlled by your Will. That means there is no public court process; it is a private; the Will cannot control the distribution of these assets.
  •  Any asset that does not have a private disposition must go through probate to get to heirs. Anyone can look into the public court file and see all the info.
  • In North Carolina, the only person you cannot leave out entirely is your spouse.
  • Children do not have a right to an inheritance.  Parents do not have to write anything special if they leave a child out of their will.

The Important Questions:

  • How will you arrange for each of your assets pass to your chosen beneficiaries?
  • Do you want to name beneficiaries at the financial institution rather than the Will – for privacy, speed, maximum control, economy?
  •  What trustworthy person will you pick as Executor?
  •  How can I keep things simple and avoid conflict if a Will does not do that?

A lawyer will help
Lawyers can explain these commonly misunderstood parts of the process.

They can help make sure you arrange your ownership and your documents to achieve your goals.

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