Common Questions and Helpful Answers About NC Criminal and DWI Charges

It is natural to have many questions and concerns when charged with a crime in North Carolina. These charges can have serious consequences and long-lasting effects on those charged with their families, so they need reliable answers quickly. Here, Todd Browning and Howard Long share their answers to many of these tough questions. Find out their thoughts on DWI, traffic charges, and many other crimes.

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  • Who Gets My Property When I Die in North Carolina?

    Probate versus Non-Probate AssetsAs is typically the case in the legal world of wills, trusts, and estates, the answer is it depends.

    The Probate Process

    To begin to answer this question, you must first understand what the probate process is and why it exists. In its simplest form, probate refers to the process through which the probate court determines how to distribute your property after you die.

    The probate process is of importance because it accomplishes several important objectives, such as the following:

    • Provides for the orderly transfer of the title of your property upon your death.
    • Ensure that creditors receive notice, an opportunity to present their claims, and payment.
    • Extinguishes claims of creditors who do not timely present their claims.
    • Ensure your property is properly distributed to those who are entitled to receive it.

    Non-Probate or Probate Property

    To determine how a probate court will distribute your property upon your death depends first on the type of property involved; that is, whether the property is probate property or non-probate property.

    Non-Probate Property

    Non-probate property is property that bypasses the probate court process mentioned above and passes directly to your listed beneficiaries. Generally, you must take some type of affirmative steps prior to your death for property to qualify as non-probate property.

    Non-probate property includes:

    • Life insurance
    • 401K/403Bs
    • Annuities
    • IRAs
    • Joint with the Right of Survivorship Owned Accounts
    • Payable on Death (POD)/Transferable on Death Accounts
    • Joint with Right of Survivorship or Tenants by the Entirety Real Property
    • Joint with Right of Survivorship Titled Automobiles
    • Inter Vivos Trust Property

    Such non-probate property does not pass through the probate court process. Instead, your non-probate property transfers to your designated beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of the legal instrument creating it, often referred to as a will substitute.

    Probate Property

    If the property in question does not qualify as non-probate, the property will be classified as probate property and pass through the probate court process.

    Last Will and Testament Versus Intestacy

    Who your probate property passes to depends on whether you have a valid Last Will and Testament. If you do have a Last Will and Testament, your probate property passes according to its terms. However, if you do not have a Last Will and Testament, or if it does not dispose of all of your property, your probate property passes intestate, which means according to the laws set forth in the North Carolina General Statutes.

    While intestacy laws are complex, the basic order of who will take your probate property if you do not have a will is as follows:

    1. Your surviving spouse
    2. Your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, or issue
    3. Your parents
    4. Your siblings
    5. Your grandparents/aunts and uncles
    6. Your next-of-kin
    7. Escheats to the state

    Contact the Probate Attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC Today

    To ensure that your property passes to the people you want it to, it is important to discuss your alternatives with an estate planning and probate attorney. Our attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC can assist you in this endeavor. Contact us today online, or by phone at 980-207-3355, to begin protecting your family's future, as well as your own legacy.

  • What is a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) in North Carolina?

    North Carolina Do Not Resuscitate OrderIn North Carolina, a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is a medical order signed by a physician that alerts emergency personnel that you do not wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. This means that if you have DNR in place, health care professionals will not try to revive you by using CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. The DNR is only a decision to withhold CPR, not the administration of other medical treatments such as a feeding tube, surgery, blood transfusions, and pain medicine. These latter medical treatments, as well as other life-prolonging measures, are typically addressed in a person’s living will, either on its own or as part of a health care power of attorney. 

    When is a DNR Necessary?

    Unlike a living will and a health care power of attorney, a DNR is not a necessary component to everyone’s North Carolina estate plan. In fact, careful consideration should be given before having a DNR implemented. In most circumstances, a DNR is used only for the very elderly, the frail, and the critically ill for whom it wouldn't make sense to perform CPR. Additionally, not understanding the difference between a living will and a DNR may result in medical treatments being administered, or withheld, in a manner inconsistent with your desires. 

    It is advisable to discuss the option of a DNR with both your North Carolina estate planning attorney, who may be able to utilize other legal tools to better address your goals and objectives, and your physician, who would be the person who needs to prepare and sign the DNR order, to ensure that your health care decisions are planned effectively. 

    Talk To an Estate Planning Attorney

    Our estate planning attorneys are here to answer your questions and help achieve your goals and objectives. Call our North Carolina office today at (980) 207-3355, or contact us online, to discuss your estate planning needs.