Rules for Interpreting a North Carolina Will

When making a North Carolina Will, there are certain rules of interpretation set out by the legislation. Here are some of the most common rules of construction, taken directly from chapter 31 Wills, North Carolina general statutes.
§ 31‑38. Devise presumed to be in fee. When real estate shall be devised to any person, the same shall be held and construed to be a devise in fee simple, unless such devise shall, in plain and express words, show, or it shall be plainly intended by the will, or some part thereof, that the testator intended to convey an estate of less dignity. § 31‑40. What property passes by will. Any testator, by his will duly executed, may devise, bequeath, or dispose of all real and personal estate which he shall be entitled to at the time of his death, and which, if not so devised, bequeathed, or disposed of, would descend or devolve upon his heirs at law, or upon his executor or administrator; and the power hereby given shall extend to all contingent, executory, or other future interest in any real or personal estate, whether the testator may or may not be the person or one of the persons in whom the same may become vested, or whether he may be entitled thereto under the instrument by which the same was created, or under any disposition thereof by deed or will; and also to all rights of entry for conditions broken, whether any such condition has or has not been broken at the testator’s death, all other rights of entry, and possibilities of reverter; and also to such of the same estates, interests, and rights respectively, and other real and personal estate, as the testator may be entitled to at the time of his death, notwithstanding that he may become entitled to the same subsequently to the execution of his will. § 31‑41. Will relates to death of testator. Every will shall be construed, with reference to the real and personal estate comprised therein, to speak and take effect as if it had been executed immediately before the death of the testator, unless a contrary intention shall appear by the will. § 31‑43. General gift by will an execution of power of appointment. A general devise of the real estate of the testator, or of his real estate in any place or in the occupation of any person mentioned in the will, or otherwise described in a general manner, shall be construed to include any real estate, or any real estate to which such description shall extend, as the case may be, which he may have power to appoint in any manner he may think proper; and shall operate as an execution of such power, unless a contrary intention shall appear by the will; and in like manner a bequest of the personal estate of the testator, or any bequest of personal property, described in a general manner, shall be construed to include any personal estate, or any personal estate to which such description shall extend, as the case may be, which he may have power to appoint in any manner he may think proper, and shall operate as an execution of such power, unless a contrary intention shall appear by the will. § 31‑46. Validity of will; which laws govern. A will is valid if it meets the requirements of the applicable provisions of law in effect in this State either at the time of its execution or at the time of the death of the testator

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