Turning Eighteen or Going Off To College – Estate Planning

Most people don’t think about an “estate plan” until they are well in to adulthood. However, planning for unknown events is something that should be considered as young as age eighteen. Once a person turns18, there is no one with legal authority to act on his or her behalf if the young person should become incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently. A Durable (financial) Power of Attorney as well as a Health Care Power of Attorney would allow that young adult to designate the person or persons that he or she wants to have decision making ability in the event of … Continue reading

Guardianships in North Carolina

When an older person is suffering from a serious illness or impairment, whether physical or mental, which prevents that person from handling their own personal and/or financial affairs, or causes that person to be vulnerable to fraud, a court action known as a guardianship proceeding may be the best solution to address the problem and assist the impaired person. If a guardian is appointed for an adult who is deemed incompetent, the guardian appointed has the legal authority to make decisions on the incompetent’s behalf to ensure his or her personal well-being and/or estate (financial assets and property) remains protected. … Continue reading

Reviewing Your Beneficiary Designations – Retirement Plans and Life Insurance

I tell my clients to review their Wills, Trust and Powers of Attorney every three to five years to be sure that they still meet their intent. Often, all remains the same and no changes are needed. Other times, those named as fiduciaries have died or have had major life changes that no longer make them good candidates to serve as executor, trustee or attorney in fact. Despite the diligence in this review, many people neglect to review their beneficiary designations on some of the most important documents; the beneficiary designation forms on their 401K, IRA, life insurance and other … Continue reading

Adding Your Adult Child to Your Bank Account

Often times a client will ask if they should add their child’s name to a bank account and the answer is usually No! The client believes that it will be easier during life if the child is on the account as the child can assist with tasks such as bill payment. They believe it will be easier when client dies if one child is in control. Clients also believe it will save probate costs, and my favorite, even if only one child is added to the account, client’s often misguided belief that child will share the account with siblings on … Continue reading

North Carolina Digital Asset Law

There is a question of what happens to a person’s “digital assets” upon death. A Digital Asset is an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest. Digital assets and content include but are not limited to individual files such as images, photos, videos, and text files.  It also includes other digital content and databases owned and/or stored either on a devise owned or used by an individual on devices accessed via the Internet or in a Cloud.  Digital Assets also include but are not limited to email accounts, social media profiles (YouTube or Flickr), social networking … Continue reading

New Year’s Resolution to Review Estate Planning

As you come upon the New Year, it is a good time to consider whether your estate is in proper order. If you had and major changes in your life, such as divorce, the death of a loved one or a move to a different state, you should review the plan you have in place. I would encourage you to review the plan you have in place every three to five years or sooner if you have had a major life change. It may be that all is in order and no changes need to be made; however, you may … Continue reading

NEW LAW IN NORTH CAROLINA ALLOWS “LIVING PROBATE”

Living probate allows a person to file an action petitioning the court to have a Will declared valid. What makes this law new and different is that the Will is proved before the testator (the person whose will it is) dies. The purpose, of course, is to prevent a contest of the validity of a Will after the testator’s death. A judicial declaration (court order) is sought that declares that a Will is valid prior to the death of the testator. If the court declares the Will valid, this order is binding on all parties and bars actions after death … Continue reading

North Carolina Department of Revenue Recognition of Same Sex Marriage for Purposes of Filing Tax Returns

Although the Internal Revenue Service began recognizing same-sex marriages on August 29, 2013, the North Carolina Department of Revenue has now issued a Directive that does the same (October 24, 2014). The Directive states “Same-sex couples who are legally married under any state law by December 31, 2014 must generally file a North Carolina income tax return using the same filing status claimed on the federal income tax return. However, if one spouse is a non-resident individual and has no North Carolina taxable income of the tax year, the spouse that is a resident of North Carolina or has North … Continue reading

Elder Financial Abuse in North Carolina

North Carolina law protects disabled adults of any age from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The law states that “any person having reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult is in need of protective services shall report such information.” Different types of abuse include physical or mental abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Financial exploitation includes the illegal or improper use of a disabled or impaired adult’s resources for another person’s profit or advantage. It is this last type of abuse that we concern ourselves with here. While we often encourage clients to consider executing a Durable Power of Attorney, it … Continue reading

New Elective Share Changes in 2013

Effective October 1, 2013, the Elective Share rules for persons who die domiciled in North Carolina have been simplified and changed.  Although the rules are now easier to understand, they may have a dramatic change on married couples property rights in North Carolina. The “Elective Share” is the amount that a deceased person’s surviving spouse can elect to receive from the decedent’s estate if the decedent left them a lesser share (or nothing at all) in his or her Will.  This Elective Share allows the spouse to disregard the deceased spouse’s Will to the extent allowed under the law. Under … Continue reading

North Carolina Repeals the Estate Tax

North Carolina recently saw sweeping changes to the tax laws. The North Carolina legislature repealed the State’s estate tax making it retroactive to July 1, 2013.  The timing is key for wealthy families with deaths in the family since the beginning of the year. Those that had deaths in the family in 2013 expecting to pay a North Carolina Estate Tax received great news and substantial savings with this retroactive change. The lack of an estate tax will be beneficial to North Carolina, encouraging people to stay put or move to North Carolina from other less tax friendly states. Many … Continue reading

Dying Without a Last Will and Testament

Most people don’t think about what will happen if they die without a Will. As a matter of fact, most people don’t think about Wills at all. Over half of Americans have never executed a Last Will and Testament. What they may not realize, however, is what happens to their estate (the house, the car, the business, the bank accounts) in these circumstances. Dying without a Will is called dying “Intestate” and is covered in the North Carolina statutes under N.C.G.S. Section 29-13 et seq. Under these statutes, the State of North Carolina determines a person’s heirs and they may … Continue reading