The estate planning services offered by the attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC are designed to help clients from across North Carolina provide for their families and take control over their own destinies. The bottom line is no person can completely control an impending sickness, injury, incapacitation or death. However, what every person can do is make a plan, an estate plan. This estate plan can ensure that you know exactly what will happen with your assets if something does happen to you, which will not only provide you with peace of mind, but also ensure that your family is protected.
What is an Estate Plan?
In North Carolina, an estate plan is commonly thought of as simply the act of preparing for the transfer of a person’s assets, such as real estate, investments, life insurance, vehicles, and personal belongings, after his or her death, through a last will and testament. While this is often a major component of a person’s estate plan, there are many other ancillary documents that may need to be included in a person’s estate plan, especially considering the person’s wishes, the assets and property a person owns, and the unique needs of a person’s family members.
This individualized nature of estate planning is why everyone needs the professional legal help of an attorney to help guide them through the process. The North Carolina estate planning attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC can help you take advantage of the appropriate legal tools that will best achieve your goals and wishes. The legal tools that our attorneys may use to help you fulfill your estate plan can include:
- Last Will and Testament: A Last Will and Testament provides instructions on your exact wishes about, among other things, how your property will be distributed, who will care for your children, and who will be in charge of implementing your wishes.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: A Health Care Power of Attorney gives the person you designate the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
- Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney is a document giving the person you designate the power to handle the non-healthcare related aspects of your life, such as paying your bills or filing your taxes.
- HIPAA Release: A HIPAA Release gives your physician permission to discuss your personal medical information with the person you have designated to be your Healthcare Power of Attorney, as well as any others whom you may choose to designate.
- Living Will (Declaration of Right to a Natural Death): A Living Will is a document that tells your physician and family the type of medical care you wish to receive, or don’t want to receive, if you are unable to communicate these decisions yourself.
- Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR): A DNR order alerts emergency personnel that you do not wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency.
- Trusts: While trusts come in many different forms depending on your goals and objectives, whether it be to avoid probate, hold property for a minor, or reduce tax liability, trusts are basically devices whereby you designate one or more persons to manage your property for the benefit of others.
- Declaration of Guardian for Minor Children: A Declaration of Guardian for a Minor Child clause, which is often included within your Last Will and Testament, allows you to designate who will be the guardian of your children while they are under 18 years of age, unmarried, and unemancipated.
- Disposition of Remains: A Disposition of Remains clause allows you to name the person who will carry out your funeral arrangements according to detailed instructions of your final wishes, such as whether you will be buried or cremated and how your funeral expenses will be covered.
These are just some of the many different legal tools our North Carolina estate planning attorneys frequently include in a client’s estate plan. The attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC can help you identify the appropriate tools you may need to ensure that your wishes will be achieved in the event of an unexpected illness, incapacitating event, or death.
Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Yes, you need an estate plan. This universal answer is true for everyone who is at least 18 years of age. Unfortunately, though, the common misconception that people in North Carolina have is that only the elderly and rich need an estate plan. In determining whether you need an estate plan, the attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC ask you to consider your answers the following questions:
- Do you want to ensure that your assets are distributed to the people you care about?
- Do you have young children and you want to decide who should be their guardian if you pass away?
- Do you want to make sure that your family is not forced to make the difficult decision to “pull the plug”?
- Do you want to make sure that you have someone you trust making other difficult choices regarding your healthcare if you were to be faced with a medical emergency?
- Do you want to make sure that you have someone you trust managing your money or property if you become incapacitated due to an unexpected illness or injury?
- Do you want to control whether you should get CPR, whether a feeding tube should be used, or whether other extraordinary measures should be used to prolong your life?
- Do you have children or a friend or relative with special needs and you want to provide financially for that person?
- Do you want to ensure nursing home care can be covered by Medicaid if you need to go into a nursing home, instead of you spending your whole life savings on nursing home care?
- Do you want to ensure that your assets are distributed to causes you care about, such as a specific charity?
- Do you want to reduce potential loss of your assets due to estate taxes?
If you answered “yes” to even one of the questions listed above, you need an estate plan. It is important to recognize that if you do not create your own estate plan, then you are leaving it to the written laws of North Carolina to make decisions to the questions listed above for you. That is, in North Carolina there are laws that provide default rules that apply if someone dies intestate, or without an estate plan. All too often, these default rules are not what you expect and may even be contrary to your intentions.
This is why everyone should have an estate plan; to make sure you and your family are secure in the event of an unexpected illness or injury, during your retirement, during the end of your life, and after your death, according to YOUR wishes and desires.
Browning & Long, PLLC North Carolina Estate Planning Package
For most individuals, our affordable flat fee estate planning package is more than sufficient to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your family is protected in the event of an unexpected sickness, incapacitation, or death. It includes the following:
- Last Will and Testament
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Living Will, or Declaration of Right to a Natural Death
- HIPAA Release
Are You Looking for an Estate Planning Lawyer in Charlotte, NC?
If you are looking for wills, trusts or estate planning assistance, you need to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.