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

Why Suze Orman May Not Get It Right for North Carolinians

            There are many interesting legal and financial correspondents on television and the radio. They serve a great purpose; to educate consumers on options for their consideration. However, in many circumstances, it can be dangerous to take their advice. These correspondents speak from a national platform and not necessarily one that pertains to those living in North Carolina. I find often when someone like Suze Orman gives advice, it may be great advice for someone who lives in California. As an attorney also licensed in California I nod my head in agreement for some of the advice she gives but … Continue reading

New 2020 Tax Law Ends The Stretch IRA

Under the law prior to January 1, 2020, if you inherited an IRA you could stretch out the required minimum distributions over your own lifetime. Stretching an IRA in this way allowed beneficiaries to receive income but also continue to realize the benefits of a tax advantaged investment. This tax benefit has now been killed by the new law signed by President Trump last week as part of the government’s spending bill. Under the new “Secure Act” which stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” effective January 1, 2020, anyone who inherits an IRA (with an exception if … Continue reading

What is a Trust?

Often clients tell me that they want a trust and immediately thereafter admit they really are not sure what a trust is or if they need one. They wonder if it is like a corporation or a contract or a Will? There are all different types of trusts but when the question comes up like this, typically people are asking about “revocable trusts” also known as “living trusts.” A revocable trust is a little like a Will and also like a contract or an agreement. However, you still need a separate Will when you establish this type of trust. They … Continue reading

New Firm Facebook Page

Law Firm Carolinas has a new Facebook page where you can keep up with firm activities, read recent blogs, and find out where attorneys are speaking (and includes a photo from this morning’s Piedmont Education Breakfast where Steve Black spoke on Declaration Amendments: Pandora’s Box)? The new page can be found at www.facebook.com/BlackSlaughterBlack. We ask that you follow it, like it, and share it!

Could Your Last Will and Testament be Ambiguous?

New North Carolina Court of Appeals Case The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a new opinion today in the area of Estate Administration in the case of Brawley v. Sherrill. In this case, the Will provided for an estate to pass equally to Zoe’s two children but if either of the children predeceased Zoe that either his or her share shall go to Zoe’s grandchildren. One of Zoe’s children, a son, predeceased her so the question presented to the Court was does the deceased child’s share go to his children or to all of Zoe’s grandchildren and not just the … Continue reading

Who’s Responsible for HOA/Condo Assessments When a Homeowner Dies?

In North Carolina when a homeowner dies, his or her real property passes immediately to the heirs under a Will or if there is no Will, under the Intestate Succession Statute. This means that as soon as the homeowner dies there is immediately, by operation of law, a new owner. The real property is not a probate asset and therefore does not pass as such. Except for limited exceptions, this means that typically the “estate” is not the new owner. The question then arises, who is responsible for paying the community association assessments/dues? Since the heirs inherited the property immediately … Continue reading

United States Supreme Court Case Involves North Carolina Trust Beneficiaries

North Carolina Department of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust. This month the United States Supreme Court decided a case that involved North Carolina trust beneficiaries. The question asked was whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permitted North Carolina to tax the income of a trust just because the beneficiaries live in North Carolina. The Supreme Court answered no. Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, North Carolina (or any state) has the authority to tax a trust if the trust has “minimum contacts” with the state. North Carolina DOR took the … Continue reading

Real Property and Medicaid Estate Recovery

When a person age 55 or older is the recipient of Medicaid, Medicaid tracks all of the money spent on the person’s behalf. While a Medicaid recipient can hold on to his or her home while alive, at the recipient’s death, Medicaid will place a lien on the recipient’s estate. This is known as Estate Recovery. The lien is typically placed on the Medicaid recipient’s home which then must be sold to pay back Medicaid. Clearly this disrupts many people’s plan of passing their real property down to their loved ones. There are some exceptions—times when Medicaid does not place … Continue reading

Change in the Law – North Carolina Year’s Allowance

As of January 2019 the Year’s Allowance in North Carolina has been adjusted. For a surviving spouse there is an increase in the statutory allowance from $30,000.00 to $60,000.00. The Spousal Allowance is intended as a type of stop-gap; a means of meeting the immediate needs of the surviving spouse when he or she is widowed and presumably assets may be tied up during the estate administration. The $60,000.00 Spousal Allowance is authorized by statute to provide for necessities. It may only be paid from the personal property of the Decedent and not from real property. With the exception of … Continue reading