Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning
What is Estate Planning? Well, glad you asked… estate planning is simply being prepared for what life throws at us. It isn’t just for the wealthy or people with children. Estate Planning has tremendous benefits for everyone. It can be as simple as a basic will or trust, or a complex estate involving in depth tax planning and comprehensive trusts. It all depends on your situation and desires. The key to get started is to find out what your specific needs are. When most people are asked, “Have you planned”? They mean do you have a will, trust or some type of plan in place? Common excuses often consist of “We’ve been meaning to, but…” or “I just don’t like to think about it.” The truth is there are very serious consequences for not having a proper plan in place affecting your children, your home, and your assets.
Estate Planning is a process
Did you know that almost 60% of households do not have a plan in place? You’re not alone, but those are also the ones you hear the nightmare stories about how the courts got involved, how long it took to get financial support to someone and how everyone knew that is not what they would have wanted. There is always a plan for you under North Carolina law, but the key is making your plan the way you want it. That’s why we’ve created our online client services, to allow our clients the convenience to complete the process online from wherever and whenever is convenient for them. Now there are no more excuses.
As your life changes so does your “what-ifs” and how you need to plan for them. This is an ongoing process that estate planning requires.
All estate plans start with the basic foundation and build from there depending on the complexities in your individual life based on family, wealth or other personal aspects. Step one is always the hardest part… getting started.
Estate Planning 101
Do I Need to Worry About Estate Planning?
The worst estate plan is no plan or an outdated plan. Proper updated estate plan documents are the key to a good estate plan to prevent financial loss, court intrusion or disagreements. You should have an estate plan if you want to:
- Make the decisions of who and how individuals would inherit your assets
- Take care of minor children by appointing a guardian or trustee for their personal and financial care
- Appoint who your executor will be to oversee the distribution of your estate
- Appoint persons to make your health care and financial decisions if you are unable
- Protect any gift you leave to a loved one from loss due to creditors, divorce or other event in their lives
- Avoid unnecessary expenses, delays and costs of administration due to court involvement
- Prevent loss to your estate assets by minimizing federal estate tax and North Carolina estate tax
What’s Involved in the Process?
We make it easy and accommodating for you to get your plan in place. Whether you prefer the traditional practice of in-office meetings, secure online communications or other method our process will allow you to see the benefit in planning without the burden. Our estate planning process typically involves:
- Reviewing and communicating the goals and concerns you want addressed.
- We ask you questions to gain the background information and discuss potential estate plan structures and options.
- We make sure you have the foundation in place first. The foundation plan documents usually include a:
Last Will & Testament
- Directs distribution of assets to those desired in the proper manner
- Appoints an Executor and Trustee to control and manage assets
- Setups a trust for any children or other minors to protect their assets and provide them with managed financial resources until a specified age
- Appoints a Guardian for any minor children
Health Care Power of Attorney
- Appoints a specific individual to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable due to temporary or permanent disability
Financial Power of Attorney
- Appoints a specific individual to make financial decisions on your behalf in you are unable due to temporary or permanent disability
- Makes known your specific wishes regarding continued life support treatment
Health Care Consent for Children
- Appoints designated individuals to make health care decisions and communicate with doctors on behalf of your children if you are not available or able
- We prepare your plan documents, review them with you and finalize for signature
- Signing the approved estate plan in front of witnesses and notary to make the plan effective
- Ongoing review, maintenance and updating based on the changes in life and law to make sure your plan is current at all times.
We will also assist to coordinate beneficiary designations of certain assets with your estate plan to make sure all assets flow line up as desired, answer any follow up questions and discuss personal writings, meetings with fiduciaries, and advisers.
- Can I Use the Estate Funds to Pay Legal Fees?
- What is an “Inventory” and What Do I Do When I Have a Request to Complete One?
- What Do I Need to Bring to my Estate Administration Meeting?
- As Execuor Can I Use Estate Funds to Reimburse Myself?
- When Should I Start Paying Creditors After Decedent’s Passing?