Wills Lawyers in Asheville, NC Helping You Plan for the Future and Protect Your Property
No one can predict the future, and the best way to be prepared is to admit that anything can happen. Although you certainly plan to be around to take care of your family far into the future, things do happen that are tragic and unexpected, and you don’t want to leave your family or yourself without protection or the ability to make choices should the worst happen. Having a well-crafted and thorough will and trust in place as soon as you have any assets or any family members to take care of is imperative to making sure that your plans would be carried out if you were unable to speak for yourself due to death or disability. Wills have many aspects designed to communicate your wishes and protect the assets you have worked hard to attain. Trusts are even more effective at fulfilling your post-death wishes, and they have the added benefit of being very private. You don’t need to have a lot of money or other assets for you and your family to need and deserve the protection that a will and trust can provide.
The last thing you want is chaos after you are no longer here to help organize your personal, business, and financial affairs. Wills and trusts can speak for you when you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
Contact Craig Associates, PC at 828-258-2888 to speak to an estate planning attorney and get started protecting your business, your assets, and your loved ones.
What Elements Should a Will Contain in North Carolina?
One of the most important things wills and trusts can do for you is to allow you to designate a trusted person to be the executor of the will and successor trustee of the trust —that is, to administer your estate and make sure that your preferences are followed with regard to distribution of your assets and other matters. Another important element that should be included in an estate plan if you are a parent is the naming of guardians for your children should you pass away before they reach adulthood. A guardian can also be named for any other dependents you might have, including elderly or disabled dependents.
The basic elements that your will and trust must have under the law in addition to these statements of your wishes include your legal name, birth date and address, a statement of testamentary intent to establish that this is intended to be your last will and testament and revocable living trust, the election of an executor, the naming of a beneficiary or beneficiaries of your assets, and the signatures of the testator of the will (you), and two witnesses.
Is There Anything That Should Not Be Included in a Will and Trust?
There are certain kinds of assets that should not be included in wills. These are types of property that do not have to go through probate, though they may still be subject to estate taxes, and include property with joint tenancy or that is held in a living trust, proceeds of life insurance with a named beneficiary, retirement plan proceeds, and any bank accounts with pay-on-death provisions, among others.
It is also not a wise idea to include funeral plans in wills, because these plans will need to be carried out immediately, and may happen before family members have even had a chance to study the will and learn of any preferences stated there.
Because we know that you care to create the most positive experience for your loved ones, you may want to create a revocable living trust to accomplish the main work of your estate planning. A well-crafted and fully funded trust will keep your estate planning private, avoid probate, making the work much easier for those you care about.
How Often Will I Need to Revise or Update My Will and Estate Plan?
Anytime you have a significant change to your life circumstances, you should review your estate planning with your lawyer. As needed, you will update your will or trust to reflect the current state of affairs. Having a child, marrying, divorcing or considering divorce, acquiring new kinds of property or assets, opening a business, moving to a foreign country or buying foreign property, and having a child pass into adulthood are all good reasons to consider an update of your estate planning and your will. Other factors that might require an update include changes in laws or regulations or the death of an executor or beneficiary. In the sad circumstance that your beneficiary develops a creditor or substance abuse problem, you may want to alter your will and your trust to distribute their inheritance in a different, safer way, or remove them as a beneficiary altogether.
If your family’s level of trust and goodwill changes and you are at odds with beneficiaries or executors that you previously trusted, you will need to update your will and trust to either remove them or change their role. If your child marries, you may need to update your will and trust to reflect how you want inheritance to be handled with regard to their new spouse and what might happen in a potential divorce. There are many circumstances that render your past will obsolete or incorrect, and regularly reviewing your will and trust in light of current circumstances is a good idea.
Many estate planning lawyers recommend that wills and trusts be reviewed and updated every 4-5 years, whether or not there have been changes to life circumstances. Sometimes, if a will is very old and has not been updated, the courts can view the will as “stale,” giving an opportunity for the will to be more easily challenged in court.
How Do I Choose an Executor for My Will or Trustee of My Trust?
Choosing the right executor of your will or Trustee of your Trust is crucial, and there are several factors you should consider. The best executor or trustee will be someone you trust to be responsible and carry out your wishes as you have stated them. They should be financially stable, mature, and averse to drama. As you age, you should consider naming a person in the succession of executors that is significantly younger than you are to avoid a circumstance in which you outlive all named executors and Trustees.
Don’t skip the step of asking your named executors and Trustees if they are willing to serve. It is important that they know they are being named and are aware of the responsibilities of serving in these roles. Where the executor and Trustee lives is generally not relevant, unless you name co-executors or co-trustees who live very distant from each other. This might cause unnecessary complications and delays in the administration of your estate.
In choosing an executor and Trustee, you want to think about who will be best able to remain calm, responsible, and efficient when faced with administrative tasks at what is likely to be a time of mourning over your death. Making a careful and considered choice for executor and trustee of your will and trust is a gift that you can give your loved ones, ensuring that they are taken care of and that the process is as smooth as possible.
Why Do I Need an Attorney to Prepare My Will and Trust?
While there are many online companies offering do-it-yourself will services, these are boilerplate forms that are written in the most generic way possible, without taking into account any of the individual circumstances you may have in your life that require different wording or more clarity. Trusts too are highly nuanced legal documents that demand legal guidance in creation and administration.
With the personal service of an experienced estate planning attorney from the law firm of Craig Associates to prepare your will and trust, you will know that everything that should be in your will and trust is in them, that anything that should be left out is left out, and that the document meets all of the legal requirements to be valid in the state of North Carolina.
It would be a shame to go through the work of filling out that online will paperwork only to have the will and trust thrown out of court when it is too late for you to do anything to fix it.
Contact Craig Associates at 828-258-2888 to have the peace of mind of knowing everything is in place and can speak for you when you no longer can speak for yourself.