No one knows what tomorrow might hold. A will and an estate plan are essential steps to future-proof your hard-earned assets and dictate its fate in case of your sudden demise or incapacitation. It can protect your loved ones from ugly legal battles and mental anguish down the line.
A will and an estate plan are your legally binding voice that directs your accumulated assets’ distribution to those who matter. The Morganton wills and estate lawyer at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can evaluate your assets and prepare the legal instruments best suited for your situation. We can also serve you with comprehensive legal guidance through the various estate planning procedures.
In This Article
Why Do I Need a Will and an Estate Plan?
An estate plan constitutes an important set of legal documents that depicts how you want your assets preserved, managed, and distributed when you are gone. Settling your affairs before death is one of the most prudent things you can do for your loved ones.
Here are five reasons why you need an estate plan, according to Business Insider:
- Protect your heirs: An estate plan’s purpose is to funnel your assets to its intended beneficiaries. If there are certain members you would like to exclude from receiving your assets, estate planning will be able to accommodate these wishes.
- Protect minors: If you have dependents under age 18, estate plans can help you designate a trusted guardian who will care for your children should you pass away. Otherwise, your children may end up in foster care.
- Minimize estate tax: An attorney can guide you through the different strategies to minimize your tax burden so you can pass on the maximum property value to your loved ones.
- Protect assets: If you leave behind debt, creditors can attempt to seize your assets to repay what you owe. A lawyer will be able to arrange different asset protection strategies to keep your property safe from creditors’ possession.
- Designate key individuals: You can establish documents that reflect your desires about end-of-life care should you become incapacitated. Using a healthcare power of attorney or a power of attorney, you can designate someone to make medical or financial decisions for you.
For a legal consultation with a wills and estate lawyer serving Morganton, call 828.286.3866
What Happens If I Die Without a Will in North Carolina?
Dying without a valid will is known as intestate. In North Carolina, if someone dies in intestacy, a local probate court judge will designate an estate administrator (similar to an executor) to distribute your assets adhering to the intestacy laws that are closely modeled to emulate an average person’s dying wish.
North Carolina’s Inheritance Laws
Intestate succession laws in North Carolina dictate who gets the property and in what amount, depending on if you were married, had children, or surviving parents.
Here is an overview of North Carolina Inheritance Laws:
- If you have no descendants (children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) or surviving parents:
- your spouse inherits everything.
- If you have surviving parents and a spouse, but no descendants:
- your spouse inherits half of your real estate and the first $100,000 of your net personal property.
- your spouse also received one-half of the remaining personal property exceeding $100,000
- your parents will receive the other half of the real estate and the amount of personal property left after your spouse gets their share.
- If you die leaving behind a spouse and one child or their descendant:
- your spouse inherits half of the real estate and the first $60,000 of personal property.
- if the value of the personal property exceeds $60,000, then your spouse receives half of the remainder.
- your child receives half of the real estate and the remaining personal property after the spouse gets their share.
- If you die leaving behind a spouse and two or more children or their descendants:
- your spouse inherits one-third of the real estate and the first $60,000 of personal property.
- if the value of the personal property exceeds $60,000, then your spouse receives one-third of the remainder.
- your children receive two-thirds of the real estate and two-thirds of the remaining personal property.
- If you do not have a spouse or children:
- your parents receive everything. If you have no surviving parents, then your siblings inherit everything.
- If you have children, but no spouse:
- your children inherit everything.
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Drawbacks of Dying Without a Will in North Carolina
NC’s intestate provisions exist to preserve the assets within your family. While the intention may be noble, there are a few downsides to this:
- You do not have control over which heir receives which asset.
- If you wanted to leave your property to friends, colleagues, or a charitable organization, intestate laws do not include them.
- If it is a large estate, you may have to pay a huge estate tax bill.
- Your children will not have access to their entire inheritance until the age of 18.
Furthermore, all familial relationships are considered perfect. Yet, you may be closer to some family members while having strained relationships with others.
An estate administrator will not be able to distribute your assets based on what they think you would have preferred, which can generate family disputes. Having an estate plan prevents disagreements from forming. It ensures your assets are divided exactly how you envisioned.
Speak with a Morganton Wills and Estate Lawyer to Preserve Your Legacy
Our Morganton wills and estate planning lawyer at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC proudly assists people throughout North Carolina with a variety of will and estate planning tasks, such as:
- Identifying which legal documents you may need based on your estate and wishes
- Drafting a will, trust, power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney
- Amending and updating documents
- Estate administration
- Establishing beneficiaries and guardianship
- Finding ways to avoid the probate court process
- Finding ways to minimize your estate tax liability
- Setting up trusts to protect your assets during your lifetime and for your beneficiary in case of your demise
- Handling disputes on your behalf
To learn more about how we can assist your estate planning needs, please schedule a free case review by calling (828) 286-3866. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions.
Call or text 828.286.3866 or complete a Case Evaluation form