Life is unpredictable, and regardless of your economic status, it makes sense to have your affairs in order with a proper estate plan. A good estate plan includes a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Health Care Power of Attorney. At Morrow Porter Vermitsky and Taylor, PLLC, our experienced estate planning attorneys and staff are committed to working closely with you and taking the time to understand your wishes and goals for your estate plan.
This legal document sets out your wishes for asset distribution upon your death and appoints an individual or entity to manage those assets. If you do not leave a Will, you will have died intestate and the NC Clerk of Superior Court in the county of your residence will appoint an administrator to manage your assets. Most people prefer to have control over who manages their assets and to whom those assets are distributed after death.
However modest, almost everyone has an estate because they own assets. Assets consist of the following:
If you have minor children who will be inheriting from your estate at the time of your death, your Will should appoint a guardian. It also should establish a trust to hold a minor child’s inheritance until he or she attains a specific age to be determined by you. If a trust is established in your Will for a minor child, then your Will will appoint a trustee to manage the trust assets until the trust is terminated.
A good estate plan does not only address what happens to your assets after your death. It also plans for what happens should you lose the ability to manage your affairs while you are still living. A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone (an “agent”) to manage your financial affairs in the event you become unable to do so.
A Health Care Power of Attorney appoints someone (your “agent”) to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unconscious, mentally incompetent, or otherwise unable to make end of life decisions.
When considering who will serve as the executor of your estate or as your agent under your Durable and/or Health Care Powers of Attorney, spouses usually appoint one another. Choose a person who you trust to manage your estate or affairs responsibly.
The loss of a loved one such as a spouse or parent is a traumatic life event. The process of opening and administering your loved one’s estate (or probate) can be an additional burden. While the Clerks of Superior Court try to be helpful to those who find themselves struggling with the estate administration, for estates of any significant size or complexity, the assistance of a lawyer can provide welcome relief from what otherwise might be an overwhelming process.