Life can unfold in unexpected ways. If it does, having an estate plan ensures that you and your family know exactly who will take care of your children, how your property will be distributed, and who will make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able. The peace of mind that an estate plan can bring is worth setting the time aside to make these decisions now, rather than having them made by the state in probate court.
When you are ready, a Lincoln County wills and estate lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can guide you through every step of the estate administration planning process.
In This Article
Why Estate Planning Is Important
Estate planning is the process of mapping out how your assets will be managed or distributed and how decisions will be made if you become incapacitated or pass away. Life is unpredictable, and while none of us ever want to think about mortality, it is better to be prepared instead of leaving yourself or your loved ones scrambling in the midst of loss and intense emotions.
Distributing Your Property
When you plan the future of your estate, you get to choose how the property and assets you have worked so hard for will be distributed. Traditionally, this is done through creating a will or a trust – both of which ensure that the people you hold dear are financially taken care of and receive the things most precious to you. Deciding who will inherit your assets is one of the key reasons for creating an estate plan, but it is not the only one.
Designating a Guardian for your Children
An estate plan allows you to make important decisions for your family in your absence or incapacitation. If you have minor children or adult children with disabilities, you can designate a guardian and prepare directions for how you want them to be taken care of.
Planning Your Health Care
Through an estate plan, you can also clearly dictate instructions for your future health care needs, such as who should make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Your family, as well as medical professionals, will know what treatments you would accept or reject. You can also enumerate your end-of-life decisions and your desired final arrangements.
Otherwise, the State of North Carolina Will Plan Your Estate
If you are on the fence about planning your estate, be aware that if you do not have a plan, it falls into the hands of the state. Without an estate plan in place, Lincoln County Superior Court will decide who receives your assets and how much they get based on North Carolina intestacy laws.
The Superior Court will appoint someone to manage your finances and medical decisions if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. The Superior Court will choose who raises your children in your absence. At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, our team wants you to be able to make these choices yourself.
For a legal consultation with a wills and estate lawyer serving Lincoln County, call 828.286.3866
Important Documents in Your Estate Plan
Many people assume that assigning your assets to a beneficiary is the only part of estate planning. However, a good estate plan includes many different components. Some key documents that a wills and estate lawyer in Lincoln County can help you create include:
- A will
- A trust
- Durable power of attorney
- Medical power of attorney
A last will and testament (often referred to as a “will”) is a document that specifies instructions about how you want your property and assets distributed. This usually includes who you are leaving the assets to, which assets you are leaving them, and how much of each asset they will receive.
Guardianship provides instructions about who you want to care for your minor children or other dependents (such as adult children with special needs). It may also outline the specific type of care you want them to receive or how you would like them to be raised. These instructions are usually included within the will.
Durable Power of Attorney
Power of attorney (POA) is legal authorization given to a designated person (an agent), allowing them to act on your behalf for particular reasons. Typically, a power of attorney ends if the principal (you) becomes incapacitated or dies. However, a durable power of attorney (DPOA) remains in effect even if you are mentally disabled.
Medical Power of Attorney
Also known as health care power of attorney or durable power of attorney for health care, this document gives a designated agent the authority to make medical decisions if you are not able to do so.
This document articulates your medical preferences, including instructions about which medical treatments or operations you may accept or reject as well as end-of-life decisions like life support.
Placing your assets in a living trust allows you to avoid the public probate system because the trust is the owner of the assets – this does not change even when you die. You are the trustee, and upon death, the trust is transferred to a successor trustee that you designate. The trustee may privately distribute the contents of the trust to its beneficiaries per the trust document without going through probate court.
Lincoln County Wills and Estate Lawyer Near Me 828.286.3866
Advantages of Working with a Wills and Estate Lawyer in Lincoln County
Planning your will and estate in North Carolina can be overwhelming. Because there are so many facets of an estate plan to consider, working with a wills and estate attorney in Lincoln County is a wise choice. The wills and estate team at our firm provides comprehensive assistance to cover all your bases, including:
- Real estate
- Non-real estate property
- Providing for dependents’ special needs
- Power of attorney
- Medical directives
- Retirement accounts
- Investment accounts
- Insurance policies
- Social security and disability income
- Debts and taxes
Our wills and estate lawyers also help you build a clear picture of your assets by collecting, organizing, and examining pertinent documents such as:
- Tax records
- Marriage records
- Divorce records
- Birth and adoption records
- Insurance policies
- Financial records
- Land and property deeds
- Business contracts
Create a Will Tailored to Your Family’s Needs
Contrary to the new trend of estate planning software, a will is not a plug-and-play, 15-minute job. It takes time and careful consideration to create a document that is tailored to your unique situation. Our lawyers work with you to draft a will that is customized to meet you and your family’s needs.
Ensure That Your Will Meets Legal Requirements
Per G.S. § 31-3.1, if your will does not comply with all the laws set forth in North Carolina, it could be declared invalid during probate. Working with our wills and estate legal team will ensure that your will and other legal documents meet statutory requirements – so your wishes are honored during probate, rather than being decided by the state.
Let Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC Give You Peace of Mind for the Future
Thorough planning is prudent for the unpredictability of life. A Lincoln County wills and estate lawyer with Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help you build a solid estate plan that honors your preferences and provides security to your loved ones. Call (828) 286-3866 to get started on planning your future today.