North Carolina Estate Planning Law Questions and Answers

Helping You Understand the Importance of Planning for Your Future

  • General

    • What Happens If I Do Not Create an Estate Plan?
      When you pass away without any estate planning documents in place, you lose any influence over what matters most. Building some form of an estate plan is essential to protecting your assets, children, and loved ones.
    • Does a Handwritten Will Count in North Carolina?
      Possibly, but to protect yourself and your loved ones, you should take steps to formally validate your last will and testament. The state of North Carolina does in some circumstances honor holographic, or handwritten, wills.
    • I Have a Last Will and Testament. Is That Enough?
      Writing and validating a will is a great start to any estate plan, but it should by no means be the only tool you utilize. While wills can help you avoid intestacy laws and protect your minor children, they cannot necessarily safeguard your estate from probate. The contents of a will and matters of probate are considered public record, meaning anyone can review your final wishes or the disputes amongst surviving family members that they generated. Property named in a will can be tied up in probate, keeping assets from grieving family members for weeks, months, or even years. Assets can also be lost to probate during the process of settling your estate, which includes paying off any outstanding debts or obligations. Employing one or more trusts can help you avoid the bulk of probate and some of a last will and testament’s drawbacks. Trusts are private relationships that will not receive the same scrutiny as the specifics of a will. Assets placed in trusts are also not subject to probate and generally cannot be touched by creditors. Estate planning can also protect you while you are still alive. Advanced healthcare directives can designate what care you would prefer to receive should you become unable to communicate, and powers of attorney can assign authorities to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
    • Do I Need a Trust and a Will?
      Trusts and wills often work best when applied together. Trusts allow you to protect many of your assets from probate and ensure beneficiaries will receive their inheritances when you choose.
    • Do Young People Need an Estate Plan?

      Do Young People Need an Estate Plan? 

    • Do Special Needs People Require a Different Type of Estate Plan?
      Individuals with special needs may not have the physical or mental capacity to support themselves with full-time work. In these situations, they will often qualify for and depend on public disability benefits programs, which maintain strict limits on personal income and possession of assets.
    • Do I Need to Update My Estate Plan?
      Yes! Your estate plan should not be static: It should evolve as you do. As you grow older, you gain new assets, your relationships change, and new people enter and exit your life. Whenever you experience a major life event, you should conduct a thorough review of your estate plan.
    • Is It Worth Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer?
      The last thing anyone wants is to learn that an avoidable mistake has resulted in an estate planning document not working as intended. An improperly validated will, a mishandled trust, or an incorrectly formatted power of attorney document can confer devastating consequences to a person and their loved ones at a critical moment. A skilled estate planning lawyer can help.

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