Smithfield Wills & Power of Attorney

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Having a will means less hassle for your loved ones when you die, as they would otherwise have no direction on how to administer your estate and ascertain your wishes regarding the distribution of assets.

During your lifetime, powers of attorney related to your assets and medical care are extremely useful to avoid the legal complications involved with guardianship. Preparing these and other estate planning documents is highly personal, yet very technical. You need a Smithfield wills & power of attorney lawyer you can trust to achieve your objectives.

Smithfield family attorney Jonathan Breeden is committed to making end-of-life issues and administration of your estate as smooth as possible. He can explain the estate planning options that make the best of your financial and family situation, so you feel comfortable with an arrangement tailored to your needs. He has worked with many individuals, couples, and families to develop a sound estate plan that avoids nagging uncertainties.

To schedule an initial consultation of your case, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 300-7290.

Wills as Part of Your North Carolina Estate Plan

When you execute a will, you name an executor to collect and manage your assets upon your death, and designate the beneficiaries you would like to receive them. There are multiple benefits of handling your final affairs through a will, and an attorney can tell you more about how this legal document operates when you pass away.

Benefits of Creating a Will

There is an assumption that you must be wealthy to gain the advantages a will offers, but the truth is that the size of your estate doesn’t matter. There are benefits you may not have considered, including:

More Control

If you die without a will, the assets you own are distributed according to North Carolina’s laws of intestate succession. Essentially, this means your estate is divided among your relatives, starting with those closest to you.

Further distant relatives could receive part of your estate if you don’t have a surviving spouse, children, and others. You have no control over who gets your assets, which can be contrary to your wishes if you want to disinherit people or designate a charity as beneficiary.

Fewer Probate Disputes

When you state your wishes regarding your assets through a will, the loved ones you leave behind are less likely to argue over your property.

Handling Business Interests

A will can be crucial for the continuity of your company and cause fewer disruptions when you leave the business. You can designate a beneficiary that serves the needs of your organization and wants to be involved, rather than a disinterested party taking over.

Care for Minor Children

You could leave care, custody, and support of your children in limbo if you don’t provide for them in your will. It’s especially critical to address these matters in your estate plan if you’re the child’s only parent.

Lower Taxes and Related Costs

A sizeable estate could be paying a fortune to the government through taxes, but you can work around some of the tax laws through your will, lifetime gifts, and other estate planning tools.

Depending on your circumstances, you can enjoy additional advantages by executing a will as part of a comprehensive estate plan. A Smithfield wills & power of attorney lawyer can review your situation, family needs, and explain your options.

How Wills Work in the North Carolina Probate Process

Your will is the focus of estate administration, often known as the probate process. In the role of testator, you appoint an executor to handle various administrative tasks, and the court oversees the process. With guidance from a probate lawyer, your executor is tasked with:

  • Gathering and listing your assets
  • Taking measures necessary to protect your real and personal property from waste or damage
  • Filing an estate inventory in court
  • Notifying creditors of your passing
  • Paying off qualifying debts
  • Selling assets as directed by your will
  • Presenting an accounting of all estate transactions
  • Distributing assets of the estate to your intended beneficiaries
  • Wrapping up the estate

Note that certain items will not go through the probate process. For instance, property held jointly with the right of survivorship goes to the surviving owner by operation of North Carolina law.

In addition, certain types of assets avoid probate if you designate a beneficiary on documents outside your will. Bank accounts and life insurance policies allow you to state a pay-on-death beneficiary are common examples. A wills & power of attorney lawyer can tell you more about the advantages of estate planning to avoid probate.

Living Wills in North Carolina

Living wills are most important during your life, as opposed to a will that applies at death. Through this type of advance directive, you can provide instructions about certain forms of medical treatment if you cannot make decisions or express your intentions yourself.

A living will states information to health care providers on the types of care you approve or disapprove, essentially providing or withholding consent for different procedures. You may indicate your wishes regarding:

  • Artificial respirators
  • A feeding tube for purposes of nutrition
  • An IV that required for hydration
  • Technologies that support various bodily functions
  • Other means of life support

You may assume that an advance directive is essential if you’ve reached a certain age or have a terminal illness. However, a person of any age should consider executing a living will. Accidents happen, and they can lead to life-threatening injuries. It’s unfortunate to think about the position you put family members and loved ones in when they don’t know what you would decide under the circumstances. There can even be legal battles between and among family members who disagree about your end-of-life care. When you state your intentions regarding medical treatment, life support, and resuscitation through a legally-binding living will, you reduce the likelihood of expensive litigation.

A knowledgeable lawyer can tell you more about living wills, including how they are distinct from powers of attorney.

North Carolina Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf regarding the subject matter in the document. They kick in during your lifetime if you become incapacitated or legally incapable of making decisions. Talk to a lawyer about how you can protect yourself and property through the different types of powers of attorney, which are:

  • Durable Power of Attorney – Here, you appoint an agent to manage your financial affairs, real estate, and personal property. The durable power of attorney becomes effective if you cannot make reasonable decisions because of an accident or illness. It may also be an option if you have physical limitations on getting around for personal errands.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney – Through this power of attorney, you grant an agent the authority to make decisions and take actions related to your medical needs, well-being, and personal care. Therefore, while your agent would interact with health care providers, there may also be duties related to education and living arrangements.

Because there are seemingly overlapping provisions in living wills and health care powers of attorney, it’s important to point out the distinctions:

  • A living will is intended to give directions and make your wishes known about medical care and procedures if you are unable to do so. Other than end-of-life treatments that apply when there is a limited chance that you’ll recover, there are no other provisions regarding health care.
  • A health care power of attorney appoints someone to make medical, well-being, and lifestyle decisions for you. Because the distinctions between the two are subtle, it’s smart to discuss them with a power of attorney lawyer.

Powers of Attorney and Guardianship Proceedings

Many circumstances may lead you to become injured, or sick. For whatever reason, if you’re unable to make health care or financial decisions for yourself, someone has to do it for you. There are essentially two ways for others to get the authority to act on your behalf, and the second option has significant advantages:

  1. Your loved ones could file guardianship documents in court to handle your affairs. The process involves proving that you’re incapacitated, requesting appointment as guardian, and potentially a hearing regarding disputes over who should act. During the proceedings, no one has the power to address medical care or financial issues for you. Plus, the costs of guardianship can be considerable.
  2. With help from an attorney, you can execute documents that avoid guardianship entirely. The trigger event to make powers of attorney effective is incapacity, so it’s not necessary to go to before a judge. You don’t have to incur court costs and legal fees, and your agent immediately steps into your shoes.

Talk to an Experienced Smithfield Wills & Power of Attorney Lawyer Today

Your will is your legacy, but mistakes in executing the necessary documents can breach your wishes for how your estate should be administered upon your death. The forms for powers of attorney can also be the source of errors, making it necessary for your loved ones to go through guardianship proceedings to manage your affairs. Without the proper terminology, supporting paperwork, witnesses, and signatures, your intentions regarding your estate may fail. Because these components of an estate plan are vital, working with a Smithfield wills & power of attorney lawyer is critical.

Attorney Jonathan Breeden can review your circumstances, identify options to help you reach your goals, and assist with preparing the necessary documents. With years of experience assisting clients, he’s happy to address your concerns and answer your questions on will and powers of attorney.

To schedule a case consultation, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 300-7290.

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