What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a set of documents that protects your family, yourself, and your property in two different situations. First, it’s about making sure that your family is protected and that your wishes are known during life, in case you become sick or disabled. And secondly, it lets your loved ones and the courts know what you want to happen to your property and children when you die.
For many clients, their estate planning documents will include:
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Advance Directives (Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, HIPAA Authorizations)
- Revocable Living Trusts, and/or
- Special Needs Trusts
No matter where you are in life, it is crucial to maintain a comprehensive, up-to-date estate plan. At Averett Family Law, we work closely with you to discover your values and concerns. We then develop a tailored estate plan to provide for your loved ones, protect your assets, and meet your other needs. Throughout the process, we treat you with the respect and professionalism that you deserve when dealing with such potentially sensitive issues.
What happens if I die without an estate plan?
If you die without a will, you die “intestate.” This causes a number of consequences and problems:
- Your property will be split up among your relatives according to North Carolina’s Intestate Succession Statute, which will probably not result in the distribution you would have chosen.
- Dying without a plan often leads to fallout among loved ones as they fight over who gets what. Your family will already be facing an emotionally difficult time. You can help them by putting your affairs in order.
- You don’t get any say about who is appointed to collect and distribute your property after your death. The clerk of court will appoint someone – like your least favorite brother-in-law – without any input from you.
- If you leave children under 18 when you die, a guardianship will have to be set up to handle your money and take care of your children. This is expensive, time-consuming, and inflexible. Even worse, a court will have to appoint someone for this crucial role without any guidance for you.
Will I have to pay estate tax?
Our office provides estate tax planning for those clients who need it. Currently individuals with more than $5.43 million in assets, and married couples with more than $10.86 million, may be subject to estate taxes if they do not plan carefully. This amount can change each year. We develop and implement strategies to reduce any potential estate tax liability through the use of tax deductions and other sophisticated planning techniques, such as life insurance trusts.
What do I do when a loved one has died?
If you have been named as an Executor by a will, or your loved one has died without a will, we can help. The months after a loved one passes away are difficult enough, without the complications of making sure you have met every requirement of administering his or her estate. At Averett Family Law, we skillfully and compassionately assist the Personal Representative (aka the Executor or Administrator) to navigate the complex and detailed estate administration process. We walk through the process with you, step by step, and make sure that all the legal requirements and formalities are taken care of. You don’t have to navigate this on your own.
We also assist beneficiaries and other family members to understand the process, their options, and their rights.