The legal climate is often changing, and it is important to keep up with the latest updates. However, regardless of the changes that are made, one thing remains the same: estate planning is vital. No matter what state you live in, having a will and other estate planning documents in place can help ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone.
In North Carolina, for example, there have been a few changes to the law in recent years. The state now has a spousal elective share, which allows spouses to inherit a portion of their deceased spouse’s estate even if they are not named in the will. Additionally, North Carolina has adopted the Uniform Probate Code, which streamlines the probate process and makes it easier for heirs to receive their inheritance.
The Need for Estate Planning
When it comes to estate planning, many people put it off until it’s too late. Oftentimes they think that they’re too young to need it or that they don’t have enough assets to warrant estate planning. The truth is, everyone needs an estate plan regardless of their age or net worth.
One of the biggest reasons for having an estate plan is to avoid probate. Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets after they die. If you don’t have a will or other estate planning documents in place, your assets will go through probate, and even with the Uniform Probate Code mentioned earlier, it could still take months or even years for your loved ones to receive them.
Another of the biggest benefits of estate planning is that it can help reduce or even eliminate estate taxes. Even if you live in a state like North Carolina that has eliminated estate tax, having an estate plan in place can save your loved ones a significant amount of money on federal estate taxes that are still in place.
Types of Estate Planning Tools
There are a variety of estate planning tools that can be used to help ensure your assets are passed on to your loved ones in the way you want. Some of the most common estate planning tools include wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.
A will is a document that outlines how you want your assets distributed after you die. They also name an executor who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes. Wills can be simple or complex and should be tailored to fit your individual needs.
Trusts are another popular estate planning tool. A trust allows you to designate someone to manage your assets after you die. This can be a great option if you want to make sure your assets are distributed in a specific way or if you want to avoid probate.
Another important estate planning tool is the power of attorney. This can be used to appoint someone as your fiduciary and give them the power to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
Remember, however, that whichever option you go for, every estate plan needs to be reviewed and updated periodically. A lawyer can help you get the most out of your estate planning documents, whether they’re simple or complex.
How To Choose an Estate Planning Tool
There are many different types of estate plans. The most common options are wills, trusts, or powers of attorney. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the right tool for your particular situation.
Wills are the simplest type of estate plan. They are easy to create and relatively inexpensive. However, wills can be challenged in court and may not be effective if the person making the will does not have it properly prepared, planned, and recorded.
Trusts are more complex than wills, but they offer more protection from challenges and can be set up to avoid probate.
Powers of attorney allow you to designate someone to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. They are relatively inexpensive and can be tailored to your specific needs. However, they do not provide as much protection as trusts or wills.
So, what can you do? The best way to choose an estate planning type is to speak with an attorney who can help you decide which plan is best for your specific needs. The attorney may even suggest that you go with a combination of estate planning tools to get just what works best.
Contact Our Raleigh Estate Planning Law Firm
In conclusion, it is important to take steps to protect your estate in today’s legal climate. By using a trust or other estate planning tools, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. If you need help creating an estate plan, give our North Carolina estate planning attorneys at Wilson Ratledge a call today to schedule a consultation.