As an experienced estate planning attorney, I can help secure your family’s future and protect those who are important to you. Who assists your family if you are incapacitated or no longer there? What happens to your children if neither parent comes home one day? Who does your childcare provider call? Who will care for your children; or your elderly parents; or any other family members who have relied on you?
Estate planning is how I can help you understand the legal steps you need to take to put your wishes in place and not leave it up to the courts. I listen carefully to your desires and your unique family needs. With my help, your loved ones can be spared the fear, expense, insecurity and frustration of waiting through the probate process for the distribution and settlement of your estate.
Creating a will, and changing it as needed, is a responsibility of adulthood, no matter the size of your estate. Once you have created a will, throughout life it needs to be reviewed to make sure it reflects your most recent situation.
If your life has changed substantially - a new home state, a marriage, a new partner, the disability or incapacity of a loved one, your children growing up - any of those types of changes require you to work with an attorney on a revised will.
I can help you with your original or a revised Last Will and Testament. Your complete estate plan will also include a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. I will review and specify the assets to be in your personal property listings, and make sure your desired funeral wishes are covered.
When advisable, I can create various types of trusts with your input that will allow you to avoid probate or estate taxes. A trust will allow you the choice to appoint a reliable person to administer your assets in the way you want for the benefit of your loved ones or personally-selected beneficiary or beneficiaries, whether during your lifetime and/or after your death.
Your property will then pass immediately to your heirs without notice to the courts or outside parties.
Emotions are intense after the death of a loved one, and the probate process may be burdensome. If you or the administrator of your estate is not experienced with the process, not only can it be overwhelming, but the administrator could be held personally liable for any mistakes made in handling the estate.
Property in an estate may need transfer of legal title to allow it to be passed on to the beneficiaries. I am experienced in the reporting and filing requirements of the Clerk of Superior Court’s office. If the estate has creditors and taxes to be paid, I can help you understand how North Carolina law requires you to handle those responsibilities.
I will suitably and thoughtfully notify heirs, handle claims and debts owed to creditors, and can walk you or your administrator through tax considerations and returns required to be filed.
I am also experienced in asset appraisal and disbursement, and will work to maximize the benefits passing to the heirs as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you are responsible for someone with a disability in your family, I can help you create a trust that provides the extra care and amenities you want for them. Once they have their inheritance, a special needs trust can protect their government benefits as well as making sure they receive the life enhancements you want for your loved one.
Another consideration if both parents are gone is planning how your assets will be distributed once your children reach their majority. You will want to decide a distribution schedule that factors in maturity, education, and any special needs. We can legally design this to fit your situation.
I can help you navigate North Carolina laws regarding various types of adoption that you may be considering:
The earlier you bring in an attorney into the process, the simpler the experience can be for you.
Our beloved pets - they need our legal protection as well. Too often the people we think will be able to care for our animal companions once we are gone cannot, and the unthinkable happens. Too many pets are euthanized when a person has not planned for their appropriate and timely care. To the state, pets are “legal property”. If they are only protected by clauses in a will, probate may not be able to ensure timely decisions regarding their care. Animals need attention immediately.
I can help you provide for your pet or pets through a specialized trust that is effective immediately so they are cared for at once and receive any medical attention they require. The structure of a pet trust is unlike one for a person, and I can help you create the most appropriate type for your situation.
You may want some or all of your assets to be passed on to a charity or nonprofit organization. We will discuss your intentions and any possible advantages or disadvantages so whatever legal document we create represents your wishes and is respected.