Case Illustration of Estate Planning in Apex, NC
Graham, a married young man in his thirties who lives in Apex, NC, has recently begun thinking about estate planning. Graham and his wife are expecting a baby, so Graham is aware that his estate plan will change as his life circumstances change. Apex began as a tobacco farming community near the state capital, which made it a trading center as well. With a current population of almost 60,000, the primary businesses in Apex include the middle school where Graham works as a science teacher. Graham will also one day be responsible for his adult special needs brother, Justin, once his parents have passed.
Graham wants an estate plan that helps protect an inheritance he received from a relative, provides for his wife and child should something happen to him, and includes a Special Needs Trust that will put money left to him by his parents into a trust for his brother Justin. Graham chooses the Apex estate planning attorneys at NC Planning to help him with his estate plan. Graham is pleasantly surprised on his first visit at the professional, yet friendly service he receives.
An attorney answers all his questions, asks about his estate planning goals, and lays out the components necessary for his estate plan—including a will that names a guardian for their coming child in the event something should happen to Graham and his wife. By the time Graham and his wife leave the NC Planning office, they are feeling confident about their estate planning, understanding that the plan can be changed as their family grows and changes.
Securing Your Legacy
The Apex, NC estate planning attorneys at NC Planning can help you secure your legacy. Estate planning attorneys do much more than simply preparing a will. Your Apex estate planning attorneys will walk you through a wide array of end-of-life arrangements. While there are DIY documents online, using these to prepare your own estate plan is very risky.
A single mistake could potentially negate the entire plan, so it’s always a better idea to contact an experienced estate planning attorney from NC Planning. If you have a chronic health diagnosis, minor children, a special needs child, or you want to plan for your own retirement, you definitely need a knowledgeable Apex, NC estate planning attorney to guide you through the process. Estate planning involves much more than document preparation, including maximizing your legal protections and garnering any potential tax benefits.
Your NC Planning attorney can advise you about the benefits of a trust over a will, help you set up guardianship for your minor children, provide ongoing income to your family after your death, reduce estate taxes, engage in charitable giving, prevent your family from having to make difficult decisions, or set up a Special Needs Trust for an adult child with special needs.
What Are the Parts of an Effective Estate Plan?
When you have an estate plan prepared, it will be tailored specifically to you and your circumstances. You may not need a will at all, or, if you have minor children, you may specifically need a will to name a guardian for your children. A trust is the better document in many cases, although if your estate is very small or simple, a will could suffice. You will have one or more of the following estate planning documents that make up your estate plan.
- Will—A North Carolina will must be “self-proving,” meaning the will is signed by two disinterested witnesses, in front of a notary. The person who makes the will must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. If a will is not self-proving, it is not necessarily invalid, however, a court must determine whether the signature of the person making the will and the signatures of the witnesses are valid. A handwritten will is legal in NC if it is in the will-maker’s handwriting, is signed by the person making the will, and is kept in a “safe” place (which is a rather ambiguous requirement). Even when a handwritten will meets all these requirements, three witnesses must testify before a court that the handwriting belongs to the will-maker.
- Living Will—A Living Will is sometimes known as an Advance Directive. This document provides instructions to your Health Care Agent regarding whether you want life support and life-sustaining measures in an end-of-life scenario. A Living Will is not a substitute for a Health Care Power of Attorney.
- Power of Attorney—A medical or financial power of attorney allows a person of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. The financial POA allows another individual to handle your financial and business matters, while a health care POA allows another person to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Healthcare Proxy—A healthcare proxy names another trusted person as your “proxy,” or agent. That person will express your wishes and make health care decisions in the event you become incapacitated. A healthcare proxy is very similar to a medical power of attorney.
Comprehensive Estate Planning Components
- Trust(s) are important components in estate plans, with many different types of trusts to benefit different situations. A revocable trust can be altered or dissolved, while an irrevocable trust cannot. A testamentary trust is created through your will, activating when you pass away. A special needs trust provides a disabled loved one with income after you pass, without disqualifying them from government benefits. A spendthrift trust distributes assets to your beneficiaries over a specified length of time rather than in one lump sum. Assets held in a charitable trust are not considered personal assets, so they are not vulnerable to estate taxes. An asset protection trust keeps your assets safe from creditors, while a bypass trust is a popular option for married couples, allowing you to leave assets to your spouse estate-tax-free. The type of trust you choose will depend on your circumstances and goals.
- Family LLPs are arrangements between family members who want to participate in a business. Each family member will put in a specific amount of money, which buys them a certain number of shares. They will then receive a corresponding amount of profits. FLPs can have general partners or limited partners.
- Charitable Planning allows you to ensure that your charitable giving can continue on after your death. You may also have a charitable trust prepared that will provide you with an income now or provide your heirs with an income after your death, for a specified period of time, with the remainder of the trust going to a charitable foundation of your choice.
- Insurance Planning involves life insurance purchases as well as other types of insurance—retirement insurance, long-term care insurance, liability insurance, property insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, auto insurance, and more. You can purchase either term life insurance or whole life insurance. Whole life insurance is more expensive, but stays in effect until you die, while term life insurance pays out only if you die during the specified term—usually 10-30 years.
- LTC Planning may involve gifting assets to others within the allowed window of time, purchasing long-term care insurance, or other methods of retaining the assets you’ve worked your entire life for. Having money available for long-term care reduces the stress for your caregivers while expanding your care options.
- Final Expenses can be planned for in your estate plan. You may purchase burial or funeral insurance, or you can create a trust that sets money aside for those expenses.
- Retirement Account Planning is, unfortunately, a subject few people think very deeply about. You may put money into your company retirement without really considering whether you will be able to retire comfortably, or whether you will be unpleasantly surprised when you retire. The Secure Act of 2019 made it mandatory for employers to offer a retirement plan for their employees (except for businesses with less than ten employees and businesses that are less than three years old). The Secure Act offers many new benefits to both employers and employees designed to make it more attractive for employers to offer retirement plans to their employees.
- Buy-Sell agreements are legal contracts, entered into now, but providing for the future sale of your interest in a business. A buy-sell agreement is a crucial component of a business succession plan and can ensure your business either sells upon a specific event (your death, disability, retirement, or other event) or that your interests in the business sell to a specified family member or other individual.
How to Choose the Best Apex Estate Planning Attorneys to Secure Your Legacy
Choosing the best Apex estate planning attorneys can seem like an overwhelming task. While you have many choices, at NC Planning we believe once you have spoken to our highly experienced attorneys, your choice will be clear. We will work with you to determine your goals, and then create an estate plan that fully meets those goals. We are highly invested in Client Care—not simply as a catchphrase, but as something we live and breathe.
How NC Planning Will Help You Plan for the Road Ahead
At NC Planning we have many years of experience helping people like you maximize their financial situation, engage in charitable giving, protect loved ones, plan for the future, and address business needs. Having an estate plan gives you peace of mind, knowing your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or death.
NC Planning has law offices in Cary, Raleigh, and Wilmington, NC for your convenience. When NC Planning is a part of the process, we will ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets and prepares your family for the future. Contact NC Planning today to speak to a knowledgeable Apex probate and estate administration attorney.