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Estate Planning Attorney

Think about your life for a second. Do you have assets — such as money or property — that you’d like to secure? More importantly, do you have family members that you wish to protect? If so, then you could benefit from estate planning.

Estate planning is the process of creating a plan for your assets in case something happens where you can no longer control your assets. A North Carolina estate planning attorney can help you create documents that advise your family members on what to do should you become incapacitated or die. Legal planning can save your family a lot of money by transferring assets – sometimes without going through the probate process.

Do you want to protect your family’s future? If so, contact an experienced attorney from Cary Estate Planning and schedule your free consultation.

What is Estate Planning?

Your estate plan involves more than writing a will. Estate planning prepares for various estate administration aspects, such as asset protection, transfer of assets, and dispersal of your assets.

Estate planning is not only for death. You might become incapacitated because of an accident or a sudden illness—the estate planning documents ensure that someone manages your assets until you can manage them yourself. In fact, you should have an estate plan, regardless of age, especially if you own property and/or have a family. Even if you are in your early 20s and own nothing but a vehicle and personal items, and have a bank account, estate planning is beneficial.

You can also reduce some taxes if you have an estate plan with the proper type of trust. Finally, a thorough plan will likely need to include other documents, such as a living will, medical power of attorney, and financial power of attorney.

At Cary Estate Planning, we understand that estate planning can be a stressful process. We aim to create a plan that suits your best interest so that you feel secure and confident in your future. We’re here to help you with life planning, estate administration, long-term care planning, and so much more.

When Should I Start Estate Planning?

If you have a bank account and own assets, regardless of how valuable, you should begin estate planning. As you gain more assets and start a family, you can adjust your estate plan. It is not uncommon for people to name beneficiaries for their bank accounts, in which case, these assets do not need to be included in the estate plan.

However, any bank or other financial account that does not have a beneficiary or a joint owner needs to be in the estate plan. Even a vehicle and your personal items should be in the estate plan. If you die intestate—without a will—your assets must go to probate regardless of value.

Going through the probate process reduces your estate value. With the proper documents in your estate plan, you can alleviate many of the end-of-life costs that decrease the value of your estate.

The Most Important Documents for Estate Planning

Your estate plan should consist of several documents:

  • Last Will & Testament. This document dictates how your assets are distributed after your death. It also names a guardian for your minor children. Should you die before your children come of age, the guardian will take care of them.
  • Trusts. You can create several types of trusts. Your estate planning attorney will help you determine which type of trust is best for you and your family. Some trusts are revocable, which means you can change them during your lifetime. Others are irrevocable, meaning you cannot change them without taking legal action.
  • Financial Power of Attorney. This document allows someone to handle your finances should you become incapacitated. This is one of the documents that is used before death. While you do not plan on getting ill or getting into a catastrophic accident, life can be unpredictable. You can customize the financial power of attorney to give the person you choose as much or as little power as you want. You can even have separate powers of attorney for different accounts and/or financial transactions.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney. Should you become incapacitated and unable to make your own healthcare decisions, the healthcare power of attorney names one or more people to make those decisions for you.
  • Living Will. A living will tells your family and doctors what to do if you need continued life support. A living will dictates the actions your loved ones should have your doctors take in certain situations, such as requiring a feeding tube for the rest of your life, resuscitating you or not, depending on your condition, and more.
  • Healthcare Consent for Minor Children. If you cannot make healthcare decisions for your minor children, you can name another person to make those decisions.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Estate Plan?

Some people opt to create their own estate documents, believing it will save them time or money. However, these documents have significant legal ramifications if done improperly. Additionally, the court will deem the documents invalid if they are not executed properly. If your last will & testament does not meet the legal standards set by statutes and the court rejects it, your estate will have to go through probate — it is as if you never made a will.

While it may be tempting to go the DIY route or utilize a simple online option, only an estate planning attorney can ensure the proper creation, intention, and execution of your wishes.

Contact us today at Cary Estate Planning to create a new estate plan or update your existing one.

FAQ: Estate Planning

What do estate planning attorneys do?
Estate planning attorneys are legal professionals who help individuals and families create the documents necessary to protect their future and ensure assets can be passed down to future generations. Estate planning lawyers will be able to help prepare for the unexpected. It is crucial to work with an estate planning attorney and know what will happen to your family and your assets in the event of your incapacitation or death.

Is it better to have a will or a trust?
Wills and trusts serve different purposes, so one isn’t necessarily better than the other. It is best for most people and families to use a combination of two and some other estate planning documents.

What is the difference between a will and estate planning?
A will is a tool used for estate planning. A last will and testament (commonly just referred to as a will) is a document that outlines a person’s wishes for the allocation of their assets and property in the event of their death.

When is a good time to get a Power of Attorney in place?
Anytime, really. Every adult needs to have parameters in place as to who can make decisions should they not be able to. Once a person turns 18, there are considerable changes regarding who can access what personal information and decision-making. It’s a good idea to have a POA done for anyone 18 years of age and up since, by then, parents/guardians will no longer have access to nor decision-making power regarding finances, healthcare, and some educational records access.