Taking care of your family, finances and belongings now can give you the peace of mind should the unexpected happen. No one likes to think about unfortunate events happening to their family, but it is critically important that you take the time to manage your financial and personal affairs prior to an unexpected event. By making sure your estate plan is complete, you allow your family the tools necessary to help you during your lifetime while giving them the time and respect they need to grieve your loss after your passing, rather than getting caught up in a probate mess.
At Heritage Law Firm, your family won’t have to worry about your estate, because you will have a comprehensive and personalized plan for your belongings, finances, children and even your pets (personally, we’re all “dog people”). With the help of one of our estate planning attorneys, you can ensure that your legacy is protected and your heritage passes on to the next generation.
Step 1 – Start the Conversation
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Whether you are a parent talking to your children, a husband talking to a wife or an adult child talking to an aging parent, bringing up the topic of death and disability can be difficult, but it is an important conversation to have.
Step 2 – Assess Your Current Plan & Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you know it or not, everyone has an estate plan. The question is, did you make it yourself or are you letting the intestacy laws of North Carolina tell you what to do? Make sure you or your loved ones have done estate planning. All estate plans should include, at minimum, two important estate planning instruments: a durable power of attorney and a will. The durable power of attorney is for managing property during your lifetime in case you are unable to do so yourself. (A note to readers: The North Carolina Power of Attorney Act was just updated last July and became effective January 1, 2018—you may need some changes done and you want to make sure those changes conform with the new law). The will is for the management and distribution of property after death. Revocable (or “living”) trusts can also help you avoid probate and manage your estate both during your life and after you’re gone. In addition, you or your loved ones should consult with one of our estate planning professionals about the best way to minimize estate taxes.
Step 3 – Plan for the Worst
You and your loved ones need to be prepared in the event that one of you becomes disabled and will no longer be able to make your own decisions. The durable power of attorney mentioned above is an important instrument. You will also need a health care power of attorney, which gives someone else the medical authority to determine your medical treatment and a living will (also known as an “advanced directive”). They are able to inform your power of attorney and medical providers as to what your wishes are regarding medical treatment.
There are many considerations that go into developing a plan for your estate. Choosing a plan for who will care for your children and assets will ensure that your family has a smooth transition and is able to move forward with their lives as quickly as possible. Heritage Law Firm will help give you peace of mind should the unexpected happen so that you can protect your family, your legacy and your heritage.