North 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.Continue Reading...
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.
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.