The Strange Case of Real Estate and Probate

One of the biggest talking points in estate planning and estate administration conferences is what assets do and do not pass via probate.  To answer the basic question of what probate is, which is a topic in and of itself, probate is the court-supervised procedure by which assets pass from a decedent to devisee in the case of testate decedents (those who die with a Will) or from decedent to intestate heirs in the case of intestate decedents (those who die without a Will).   The probate procedure in North Carolina, also sometimes referred to as estate administration, is outlined in … Continue reading

SIMPLE SUMMARY OF THE “FREE” STEP-UP IN BASIS FOR ESTATE ASSETS AND POSSIBLE CHANGES WITH THE PROPOSED AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN

Most of my clients do not have to deal with estate taxes due to the current 11.7-million-dollar exemption per spouse.   Despite this, there are still many important conversations involving taxation that may come up in the initial estate conference at the death of a loved one from deferred income tax with inherited IRAs, fiduciary tax returns, taxation of income earned by irrevocable trusts, and the big one that always comes up and which is the focus of this blog, capital gains taxes.  Capital gains tax is not an estate tax or related to death at all, but it is still … Continue reading

Law Firm Carolinas: New Shareholder, Partners, Offices and Lawyers

Law Firm Carolinas announces the following changes: Harmony Taylor, who is in the Charlotte office and practices community association (HOA and condo) law and civil litigation, has been named a Shareholder. Three attorneys have been named Partners: Joe Thompson, who practices residential and commercial real estate, and David Wilson, who practices North and South Carolina community association (HOA and condo) law, both from the Charlotte office; and Jon Raymer, who practices commercial and residential real estate, from the Greensboro office. There have also been several recent additions to the firm: Nancy Guyton and Hunt Harris have joined the Wilmington office. … Continue reading

Miscellaneous Long-Term Care Planning Info and Options

In prior blogs, I have discussed Medicaid options for skilled nursing and the Special Assistance Medicaid program for an assisted living facility. In this blog, I will address some miscellaneous items to ponder when long-term care planning. Assistance for Elderly Veterans First, is your elderly loved one a Veteran? If so, Veteran’s Aid and Attendance may provide a small amount of assistance with long-term care cost. For a wartime veteran that meets the income and asset tests (or for a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran), the VA Aid and Attendance program may help pay for some of the costs … Continue reading

Who is the “Community Spouse” in Long-Term Care Planning and What Can They Expect?

When one of two spouses goes to a long-term care facility and applies for benefits, there is important lingo to be aware of when speaking with an elder law attorney and/or applying for benefits.  The spouse in the long-term care facility is called the “Institutionalized Spouse” and the other spouse is referred to as the “Community Spouse.”  In this blog, I discuss the asset and income allowances for the “Community Spouse.” There is a Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSA) to preserve assets for the community spouse.  This is the amount of countable assets the Community Spouse will not have to … Continue reading

Clarity on the difference between an Assisted Living facility and a Skilled Nursing facility: Special Assistance Eligibility

In this blog, I attempt to give some insight on a critical point of confusion in elder law which is the difference between assisted living and skilled nursing and the governmental programs available for financial assistance in each type of facility.  Despite what you may have been told, traditional long-term care Medicaid does not pay for a stay in an assisted living facility.  However, Special Assistance Medicaid, a subset of the Medicaid program, is another needs-based governmental program that can help pay for care in assisted living facilities.  The rules of the two programs have some similarities but also many stark … Continue reading

If I Ask if Your Will Has “Per Stirpes,” It’s Not a Personal Question

As I recently went through my estate planning 101 routine to a pair of prospective clients , I happened to drop in the phrase “per stirpes.”  I try to avoid legalese in my initial client conferences, but some terms are unconscious and unavoidable for estate practitioners who spend a significant time parsing through complex legal scenarios facing their clients.  One of the prospective clients abruptly interrupted me and said, “Whoa now, I thought we just came to talk about doing a Will.”  In jest, I assured him that he could not catch anything and there was no need to get … Continue reading

Update on Emergency Authorization of Remote Notarizations

The saga continues in this third entry of the three-part series (so far) on North Carolina’s authorization of emergency video notarizations during the pandemic.  As of March 12, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 196 into law, which allows video notarization to continue through December 31, 2021.   The Bill acts to amend the previous authorization which expired on March 1, 2021, and appears to have retroactive effect to save any brave soul who continued remote notarizations after the Bill’s expiration date. At this time, there is still no indication that permanent authorization of remote notarizations is in the works … Continue reading

Remote Notarizations to Sunset on March 1

As the sunset date approaches for remote notarizations under the temporary emergency authorization, it is now apparent that the legislature will not agree on a bill authorizing a further extension before the expiration. Therefore, we will revert to the notarial requirement of “close physical proximity” on March 1, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.   Folks in the know believe that there is legislative support for either an extension of the emergency statute or its permanent authorization and codification. However, other non-related budget aspects of the bill are causing a delay (insert your cynical political comment here).  Additionally, it is speculated that when … Continue reading

Estate Planning in a Pandemic: Remote Document Signings are the Now and Hopefully the Future

A global pandemic will certainly induce one to consider his or her own mortality and, as such, initiate a revisit or beginning of their estate plan.  But paradoxically, the pandemic has also made it more difficult for us to venture out to ensure these matters are in order.  Many nursing homes across the state of North Carolina are on lock down due to the pandemic, making it more difficult to discuss any loose ends of an estate plan with a distressed loved one residing in a care facility.  Despite the increased difficulty during the pandemic, with the emergence of Zoom … Continue reading

North Carolina Medicaid Planning: The Basics

In general, everyone is entitled to enroll in Medicare when they turn 65, which acts as their health insurance for general health care, hospital or doctor visits.  However, while Medicare and supplemental plans may pay for rehab for the first 20 days and a portion up to the 100th day in some cases, Medicare does not pay for long-term care in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility.  The average monthly cost of a skilled nursing facility is around $9,500.  This means you could easily spend through a lifetime of savings in only a short couple of years in a … Continue reading

The Fundamentals of Trusts: Broad Terminology for a Nuanced Field of Study

Trusts are a topic that seem to be often discussed but seldom understood among the general public.  This is not an indictment of a misinformed public, but a commentary on the wealth of information and various channels through which it flows.  Your Google search results, your local banker or even a co-worker may claim to have all the insight on how to plan your estate and “get your affairs in order.”  Clients often tell me they “need a living trust.”  When I ask why they need one, they are unsure how to answer.  I do not ask the question to … Continue reading

New Firm Name & Partners

New Firm Name The law firm of Black, Slaughter & Black, PA will now be doing business as Law Firm Carolinas. The firm, which practices in North and South Carolina, has four offices: Greensboro, Charlotte, Triangle (Garner) and Coastal (Wilmington). New Partners In addition, three attorneys have been named partners in the firm: Jennifer Ruby, who does general civil litigation, business litigation and appeals. Ruby is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2006) and Elon University School of Law (2010) and is based in the Greensboro office. Michael Taliercio, who manages the firm’s HOA/condo assessment … Continue reading

How to Leave Money, Assets or an Inheritance to a Minor Child in North Carolina

Until a child reaches the age of eighteen (18), they cannot inherit property outright, or in their own name. It needs to be held for that child in one of several different ways. First, money or property can be left to a minor in a trust. Second, it can be left to a child under a court-supervised guardianship and third, it can be left to a child under the North Carolina uniform Transfer to Minors Act. Trust – A trust can be established during life or through a Will at someone’s death. If money is left to a minor child … Continue reading

North Carolina Estate Planning and the Coronavirus

Estate Planning practices are busier than ever. Clients are very concerned whether their estate plans are up to date and in order. Often clients have been meaning to make changes and do not get around to it. Something as frightening as a pandemic makes us stop and think about the important things in life—like making sure our loved ones are cared for in the event of an unlikely circumstance. Here are some suggestions of what you might consider at this time. Review your Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust – do they accurately reflect your wishes if you … Continue reading

Greensboro and Charlotte North Carolina Probate in the Midst of Coronavirus

While things have generally slowed down during this pandemic, the Courts have remained open to certain departments that simply cannot be put on hold. Two of these include: (1) Estates – this is where Probate Estates are administered, Spousal Allowance applications are processed and other similar matters. Probate is the court-supervised legal process that gives someone (executor or administrator) the authority to administer an estate. Administering the estate includes gathering the assets of the deceased person, paying the taxes and final bills and at the end distributing any remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will or set out … Continue reading

Quiet Title Actions in North Carolina

We frequently field questions from clients regarding their ownership in property that has been passed down through multiple generations of family members.  Issues tend to arise due to how title is held to the property.  Sometimes, several members of a family own a small share of a piece of property but are unsure of their exact ownership interests.  This can result in confusion and the inability to immediately sell the property to an eager buyer. Frequently, property held by a family for generations is never deeded down the generational line.  This results in a perceived gap or uncertainty in ownership.  … Continue reading

Are Your North Carolina Last Will and Testament and Guardianship Designations up to Date in the Midst of Coronavirus

Living with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, has made many people step back and take actions that ensure they are prepared. In the short term that means fighting the lines for food and cleaning supplies but in the long term it means making sure that all recommended important legal documents are up to date. Only two weeks ago, we thought that only older people were affected but now we know that people of all ages are at risk. Persons of all ages are reminded to make sure they have a Last Will and Testament in place. Young parents are … Continue reading

North Carolina Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directives and Beneficiary Designations in the Midst of Coronavirus

Living with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for each individual to decide who it is that they trust most to make medical decisions if they cannot make those decisions themselves.  Many of us may get sick and in that case, we may need someone to make important decisions for us. If you have not already done so, this is the time, while you are well and thinking clearly, to make those decisions and memorialize them in the appropriate legal documents. This advice is not only intended for older people but for anyone over the age of … Continue reading

Handwritten (Holographic) Wills in North Carolina

North Carolina recognizes hand written Wills known as Holographic Wills in certain circumstances. A holographic will is handwritten, not typed, and must be entirely in the handwriting of the person making the Will (known as the Testator or Testatrix). Holographic wills are valid without witnesses, but the testator must still sign it. In addition to having the Testator’s name, the holographic Will must also be found: among the his or her valuable papers or effects, or in a safe-deposit box or other safe place where it was deposited by the testator or under the testator’s authority; or in the possession … Continue reading