Making a Last Will and Testament is the key to preparing an estate plan. Anyone over the age of 18 who is of “sound mind” can create a will in North Carolina. While the law does not require that you make a will, doing so allows you to exercise control over the disposition of your property after you die. A will also allows parents to appoint guardians for their minor children should something happen to them. Without a will, your property will be distributed according to North Carolina statute, and a judge who doesn’t personally know you, your children, or your family will decide who is the best guardian for your children. Wills can (and should) be updated when you experience a major life change, like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or moving from one state to another. Click here for more information about estate planning and guardianship if you have minor children
Many people assume that trusts are only for the very wealthy, but the benefits that a trust can offer to someone with even minimal wealth are significant. Trusts can help your beneficiaries avoid a costly and time consuming probate process and can help you to avoid guardianship or conservatorship proceedings in the event of disability or incompetency. While wills (and a list of your assets) become part of the public record once probated, trusts are confidential and private. Whether a trust is right for you and your family depends on your particular circumstances. Our attorneys can lay out options and help you decide what will work best for you and your family. Click here for more information about trust planning
Other Important “Ancillary” Documents:
Powers of Attorney for Property/Finances and Healthcare are an integral part of a comprehensive estate plan. These documents allow you to appoint someone that you trust to handle your financial affairs and healthcare decisions if you are not able to do so. An Advance Directive or “Living Will” spells out what types of treatments you do and don’t want at the end of life in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. All of these documents must be put in place while you are still competent to make your own decisions. Planning ahead by creating these documents can avoid helplessness, confusion, and anxiety on the part of your loved ones should you become incapacitated.
Probate is the court-supervised legal process that gives someone authority to gather the deceased person’s assets, pay debts and taxes, and eventually legally transfer the assets to the people who inherit them. Probate can be necessary to transfer certain assets regardless of whether or not the deceased had a will in place. Knipp Law Office, PLLC currently handles probate cases in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, and Iredell county.
Trust Administration refers to the Trustees’ management of trust property according to the terms of the trust document. We recommend that Trustees work with an attorney to help navigate the trust jargon and facilitate the administration process.