You may have a clear idea of what you want to happen to your possessions and assets after you pass away, and of who you want making decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated—or you may have no idea at all. Either way, it is never too early or too late to formulate your wishes and put them in writing.
A Morganton estate planning lawyer from our firm can ensure all of your paperwork is filled out and filed correctly. This way, there will be no doubt about your wishes when the time comes to execute them.
Creating a Binding Will
For legal purposes, simply telling your loved ones how you want your assets and possessions to be distributed after death is not enough. Dying intestate (without a will) leaves the door open for beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries to fight over the things you left behind. This could lead to years of court battles for grieving relatives who are already busy trying to process your loss.
Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC helps our clients protect their futures with wills that:
- Clearly and unequivocally spell out who gets what, including what happens to your money, stocks, house, real estate, heirlooms, collections, business interests, and other assets
- Specifies any provisions or qualifications you wish to include
- Reflects your current situation accurately
- Meets all of the legal requirements laid out in S. § 31
If your situation changes and you have to update your will, we would be happy to make those alterations. We know that life can take you down unexpected paths, but we want you to feel that your estate is always protected and in good hands.
Designating Power of Attorney
Power of attorney gives someone the legal power to make important decisions regarding your:
- Other legal matters
Healthcare power of attorney and general power of attorney are separate designations: whoever has your healthcare power of attorney could not make business decisions for you, and vice versa.
You can either designate one person to make decisions in all of these areas, or you can designate multiple people to handle different aspects of your life. They will decide what happens to you or your assets if you are unable to express your own wishes.
The estate planning lawyers at our office help Morganton residents to:
- Decide which aspects of your life you should designate power of attorney for and under what circumstances
- Select the right form, answer your questions about it, and even fill it out for you
- Submit forms and let you know once they have been accepted
- Revoke power of attorney if someone you designate is no longer available or an appropriate choice
- Understand the full implications of designating power of attorney (it involves giving someone else access to personal or sensitive information)
- Understand the circumstances under which someone’s power of attorney will legally activate
Assigning Guardians for Dependents
Do you have underage children or adult dependents who rely on you for financial support, day-to-day care, and loving guidance? It is natural to worry about those individuals and what will happen to them if you suddenly pass away or are otherwise unable to be there for them.
Fortunately, Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help you assign a legal guardian to care for your dependents. This could mean:
- Identifying who you want to take custody of your dependents if you are incapacitated
- Designating a guardian ad litem—that is, someone to protect your dependent’s rights during a legal action like a divorce or a custody dispute
We are proud to be able to help clients protect those they love. You can feel better knowing that the people you love will always be cared for.
Estate Probate Protects Your Interests
Settling your estate prior to your death or incapacitation can save everyone a lot of trouble. If your loved one passed away without a proper will, or if there is doubt about any of the will’s provisions, you could find yourself in a lengthy legal battle with other beneficiaries.
The estate planning attorneys at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC also represent clients who are in the midst of fighting for their rightful inheritance. We know you would much rather be spending time with family than arguing over legal matters, so we can:
- Examine any documents your loved one left behind
- Collect any evidence that may provide clues as to your loved one’s wishes
- Represent you in the courtroom as necessary
What does “Incapacitated” Mean?
The provisions of your will will not take effect until after you pass away. Other documents, like those designating power of attorney or legal guardians, take effect if you are incapacitated—that is, you are still alive but unable to make reliable decisions.
Incapacitation can occur for many reasons. The following are just a few examples of situations where your forethought in estate planning could prove invaluable.
- You suffer from a degenerative condition like Alzheimer’s and will someday be unable to think clearly enough to communicate what you want.
- You are in an accident, and the treating physician decides to put you in a medical coma for a few days while you heal. During those days, your designated guardians and powers of attorney would assume responsibility as necessary.
- You suffer brain damage that leaves you in a permanent vegetative state. Your healthcare power of attorney would decide how and if to treat you, and your guardians would assume responsibility for your dependents.
How does the legal system know when you are incapacitated? If you designate power of attorney, the designee may have the right to decide when you are incapacitated and, therefore, when their own power is legally triggered.
We Help Clients Plan for the Future
Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC provides an array of estate planning services to residents in Morganton and throughout North Carolina. A lawyer from our firm can give you the peace of mind of knowing that all of your loved ones and business interests will be responsibly managed and cared for after you are gone. Contact us today to find out more.