Estate Planning Concerns for Adult Children Living With Parents

The numbers of individuals living with extended family have only been growing. Our North Carolina estate planning attorneys blogged about estate planning issues of the “Sandwich” generation – the large pool of Americans who are caring for both their children and their aging parents. There is a similarly growing rate of individuals in their 20s and 30s (“boomerang kids”) who left home for college, but came back and live at home with their parents. 
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Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina

same sex marriageThe landmark federal ruling of the United States vs. Windsor in late June 2013 has deemed the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The federal Defense of Marriage Act had defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. The case involved Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same-sex couple who married outside the United States in 2007 after living together in New York for over 40 years. New York recognizes same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. However, when Spyer passed away, Windsor was not granted surviving spousal rights for federal estate tax purposes and her inheritance was deemed ineligible for the marital deduction. The Supreme Court ruled the federal government will conditionally recognize marriages under federal law based on the State’s recognition of the legal union. Windsor will now be reimbursed (with interest) for the taxes she had originally been required to pay.

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What is an Heir Search Firm?

heir searchWhen an individual dies without a surviving spouse, siblings, parents, descendants, or named beneficiaries, their estate still needs to be distributed. In cases when this happens in North Carolina, how will the estate be settled?

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Can I Inherit Debt in North Carolina?

dying with debt in north carolinaNorth Carolina estate planning discussions usually put an individual’s assets under the microscope. What trusts would avoid taxes best? How much should be designated for charitable contributions? Are my advance directives up-to-date? Most people are concerned about preserving inheritances for beneficiaries instead of understanding how inherited debt may affect their loved ones. 

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Most Americans Die Without a Will

I came across a recent article in the Yahoo Finance Blog, Half of Americans With Kids Set to Die Without a Will.  If you are a North Carolina resident, what happens to your estate if you don't have a will (you die intestate, in legal terms)?  Here's a link to the NC law on Intestate Succession: N.C.G.S. Section 29-13 et. seq.

If you have a spouse and children, you might be surprised to learn that your spouse will not necessarily get your entire estate.  This can can be especially problematic if you die owning real estate in your sole name and have minor children.  Guardianships would have to be established and authority granted from the court before the property would be able to be sold.  There are also a whole host of other potential problems that can be avoiding by having a will or living trust.

Bad things happen to the families of good people who die without a will.  Don't let this happen to you.

North Carolina Estate Procedure Pamphlet

I recently had someone email me and ask if the North Carolina Estate Procedure Pamphlet, published by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, is accurate.  It is generally correct, and provides a good, basic overview of estate administration requirements and procedures in North Carolina.  However, it is out-dated, having been published in 2002.  In addition, it does not go into depth about how to fully accomplish the many requirements of probate and deal with unusual issues, not to mention the estate and income tax aspects of probate.  Furthermore, the Clerks of Court in each of our 100 counties may have different rules and intrepretations of the law.  This pamphlet alone certainly does not provide enough guidance for a lay person to properly handle a probate proceeding.  Given that executors and administrators can be held personally liable for mishandling an estate, even if not intentional, having an estate attorney on board is always a good idea.  It may even save money in the long run, and will certainly save a lot of time and aggravation for the executor.

North Carolina Intestacy Calculator

"Intestacy" refers to how a person's property is distributed if he or she dies without a will.  Pennsylvania attorney Kurt Nilson has created a web-based calculator for determine how an intestate estate will be distributed under North Carolina law.