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Cary Estate Planning Lawyer Paul Yokabitus Says an Estate Plan is a Spring Cleaning List Must Have

[Cary, NC, May 2022]Cary Estate Planning Lawyer Paul Yokabitus reminds everyone that an estate plan is much broader than simply drafting a will. An estate plan creates a family’s financial safeguard. Estate planning helps preserve family assets, and maintains the family’s legacy as the deceased designed it. An estate plan can also minimize the waiting time for distribution of family assets to family members. The protection aspect is critical if you have minor beneficiaries or adult beneficiaries who need protection from bad life choices, outside influencers, the impact of divorce, or creditor wolves at the door.

Estate planning lawyers help families avoid lengthy probate court actions. Early planning often reduces estate taxes for families. Considering all the variables involved in estate planning, it’s easy to see why it is advisable to revisit estate plans on a regular basis. An estate plan review should become an annual event, just like changing the batteries in the smoke detectors in the home when spring rolls around.

It is important to bear in mind that dying without a will means that the Probate Court will decide who gets the deceased’s assets in accordance with the state’s laws of intestacy. That’s a fancy way of emphasizing that, while a will is an essential part of estate planning, it is not where estate planning ends. A will helps protect minor children by naming a guardian to care for them in the event of the estate settlor’s death while the children are still minors. The broader estate plan protects all the beneficiaries by transferring assets so that the estate reduces the tax consequences that flow from federal and state estate taxes as well as state inheritance taxes. Remember, too, that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) often takes a big bite out of an inheritance by levying significant income taxes.

A Cary Estate Planning Lawyer can help clients structure their estate to prevent family squabbles in court over their inheritances. The estate plan means the clients determine who administers their estate finances and assets in the event of their death, or mental incapacity. It also means the clients determine the individual provisions that apply to an incapacitated child, including a separate trust designed to provide for them during their lives.

And, for the client who is one of the many Americans who have blended families with multiple spouses, with one or more former spouses, and natural children as well as step-children, and even adopted children, planning an estate is the only way to assure that the assets accumulated over a lifetime distribute among the beneficiaries in the way that the client intends.

What Is an Estate Plan?

People hear the term estate plan tossed around a lot, but some may not know what an estate plan entails. An estate plan is made up of the following components:

  • A Trust,
  • A Living Will and other healthcare directives that provide your instructions in case of medical emergency when you are unable to give consent,
  • A power of attorney for financial and healthcare matters,
  • Guardianship instructions for minor children, and
  • In some cases, trusts provide for special needs children or even adults who cannot care for themselves after your death.

An estate plan is instrumental in helping your estate administrator and your heirs reduce taxes as well as court costs and other fees related to legal representation.

When Should You Start an Estate Plan?

People tend to want to put off discussions that have anything to do with wills or death. The rule of thumb, though, is you need a plan to protect both the assets you own and your heirs.

If you do not plan properly, your property and money may end up distributed in a manner not to your liking. Your minor heirs may not receive the protection they need. If you have no heirs, you may want to give some or all your assets to a church or other charitable organization.

Someone dying without a will in North Carolina will have their assets distributed in accordance with North Carolina law. The laws of intestacy, as they are known, begin by distributing your assets to your spouse and your children. If none survive you, the rules then provide for assets to go to your parents and grandchildren. If you die without any relatives, then the courts may give your assets to the state of North Carolina.

The legal community recommends that everyone with assets and vulnerable heirs plan a visit to a qualified attorney with years of experience in being an estate planning lawyer. The lawyer will analyze the facts surrounding your situation and make recommendations for the best course of action for you.

Following your conference with the attorney, speak to your family and love ones about your plans regarding distribution of your assets. Setting up a special needs trust for those at-risk heirs will go a long way to making your loved ones feel secure about their futures.

You can start the process by calling Cary Estate Planning today to arrange a free consultation.

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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