Do you have a loved one who is not capable of handling his or her own personal, medical, or financial affairs? Whether it is an aging parent or grandparent struggling with dementia, or an adult child suffering from a disability, it may be necessary to establish adult guardianship to ensure that your loved one’s affairs are appropriately managed.
North Carolina Adult Guardianship Process
In North Carolina, any interested party can initiate a guardianship proceeding. The guardianship process proceeds in two parts. First, the court must determine whether your loved one is incompetent, meaning that he or she lacks necessary capacity to manage his or her affairs or to make or communicate important decisions concerning his or her person, family, or property. If the court finds that your loved one is incompetent, it will then appoint a guardian to manage his or her affairs.
If you are a North Carolina resident, now is a great time to review your estate planning decisions as a new North Carolina Power of Attorney law goes into effect on January 1, 2018. The revisions to the law will align North Carolina’s laws with power of attorney legislation in other states so that there are more uniform regulations across state lines.
Not Necessarily. People often assume that if they do not have a will that their assets, or their estate, will automatically go to their spouse. However, if you die without a will, also known as “dying intestate,” North Carolina laws, rather than you, will determine how your estate is distributed among your surviving relatives. Even if you verbally tell a loved one how you want your assets to be passed down upon your death, the state of North Carolina will only recognize your wishes if they are documented in a will.
How your assets get distributed largely depends on your marital status at the time of your death, and the makeup of your surviving family tree. For example, if you are married but do not have children and one or more of your parents is still alive, a portion of your property may go to your parents, rather than wholly passing to your spouse. Similarly, your spouse may not inherit your entire estate if you have children, as a portion of your estate may pass to the children under the intestate laws, even if they are minors.
If you have no immediate family, your estate may go to distant family such as aunts, uncles, or cousins, to avoid your assets becoming property of the State of North Carolina. These distant family members may not be people you would have ever chosen to leave your property to, and they may not even be people you have ever met. Surely, you do not want the state of North Carolina determining how the assets you worked your whole life for will be distributed? This is why writing a will is so important in ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Additionally, the process for allocating your assets under the intestate laws is often much more time consuming and complicated than if your property were to pass by will, and can take months or even years. Leaving a valid and well-drafted will can greatly simplify the process of administering your estate and will lessen the stress on your loved ones during an already difficult time.
Drafting Your Will.
The process of preparing a will does not have to be a complex or difficult. Choosing the right attorney to assist you in your estate planning can greatly simply the process. The lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyler and Long LLP have over 110 years of combined experience writing wills and estate planning for North Carolina families, and can help to guarantee that your hard-earned assets pass to who you want them to. Give us a call at 704-289-2519 to protect your family and your estate assets.
A Living Will deals with your wishes about your end-of life medical care. A living will, also known as an advanced directive, is an important estate planning document that aids your family in understanding your wishes at the end of your life.
What is a Living Will?
A living will provides instructions regarding your end of life care to your health care providers.
It instructs your doctors whether you want to withhold life-prolonging care in certain situations and die a natural death. If you suffer an irreversible condition that will soon result in death, if you are unconscious and it is unlikely you will ever regain consciousness or if you are suffering from advanced dementia and any loss in your cognitive ability is irreversible, your Living Will authorizes health care providers to withhold artificial life support.
Why do I Need a Living Will?
If you do not have a living will, your loved ones may face the added stress of making these choices for you in an already stressful situation. Having one gives your loved ones the peace of mind of knowing that you have a plan in place to receive the treatment that you want or don’t want. Additionally, it can ensure that your family will not be put in the position of making gut-wrenching end of life decisions on your behalf. This reduces stress and can help to avoid family conflicts over your care.
The lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyler and Long LLP have over 110 years of combined experience writing living wills for North Carolina families. Give us a call at 704-289-2519, and we can help you think through what your desires are for end of life care and ensure that your wishes are properly documented.
What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a document in which you name a person, known as a health care agent, to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot make such decision on your own.
A health care power of attorney is an important estate planning tool, as it ensures that someone is able to make important medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.
In your Health Care Power of Attorney, you grant your agent very broad powers to make decisions regarding your medical care. For example, your agent could potentially choose which doctor will treat you, or consent to or decline medical procedures on your behalf.
How Do I Select My Agent?
Typically, you will designate one agent to act under your Health Care Power of Attorney, and will then name successor agents to act in the event that your primary agent is unable or unwilling to make decision on your behalf.
Given the broad powers your health care agent will possess, it is important to choose someone you trust to make decisions that are in your best interest.
Some factors to consider when designating your agent could be:
- personality traits
- family and relationship dynamics
- the age and health of your health care agent
- your agent’s geographic location.
Additionally, you should always discuss your wishes concerning your health care, including life prolonging measures, mental health treatment, and long term care plans with your health care agent.
The lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyler and Long LLP can discuss these considerations with you in relation to your specific situation, and can work with you to select the best health care agent for you. Give us a call at 704-289-2519 to discuss your estate planning wishes and protect your interests in the event that you can no longer make medical decisions for yourself.
Engaged? Congratulations! Between the dress shopping and cake tasting, don’t forget to add “call our lawyer about estate planning” to your long list of wedding “To-do’s.”
While preparing a will and thinking about future emergencies is not as fun as choosing floral arrangements, it is a smart way to say, “I Do” to a safe financial future. Here are the four essential estate planning steps we recommend for newly weds:
Have you decided who will be responsible for tending to your affairs after you pass away? While it may be difficult to choose between adult children or other loved ones, choosing the right person to serve as your executor is a critical decision in the estate planning process.
Acting as an executor for the first time can be a daunting experience as there are many tasks to complete and serious legal and financial issues hanging in the balance. Being named as an executor means your deceased loved one selected you to be legally in charge of handling their estate and fulfilling their final financial obligations.
Here are three tips for making your job as an executor go as smoothly as possible.
Getting your estate planning affairs in order? We often see estate planning errors that can be time consuming and expensive for your loved ones to resolve.
Here are our tips for avoiding these common estate planning mistakes:
1. Not Having an Estate Plan
Having no estate plan is the number one mistake you can make.
It will be extremely expensive for your family to administer your estate without a plan to follow. The state of North Carolina will dictate how your assets are distributed. If your family wants to change what is mandated by state laws they will have to engage in a difficult and expensive legal battle. A simple estate plan that includes your Last Will and Testament will provide enough guidance to your family to avoid these expensive legal costs.
For more on dying without a will, see our previous post: Does my spouse get Everything If I Don’t Have A Will In North Carolina?
If you or a loved one have special needs, you understand the financial strains that comes with providing the appropriate care for those needs. One way to address these concerns is through a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a tool that allows the trustee to provide financial support for an individual with special needs while also allowing the individual to receive and maintain government benefits.
Speaking to a qualified estate planning attorney about a special needs trust can help you have peace of mind that you or your loved one’s special needs will be cared for: