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The Conner Law Office is committed to providing top quality legal services and professional advice to the people, organizations, and businesses of Cabarrus County, North Carolina, and surrounding areas. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you and to discuss how we may be of service. To make an appointment, please call 704-720-0595 today.

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How to Best Plan Your Future and Protect Your Family

December 6, 2014

        What does Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, former president Abraham Lincoln, and Steve McNair have in common? They all died without proper estate planning. When most think of a Will or estate planning, the term old or elderly comes to mind. Because there is no time stamp on our lives and we have no ability to foresee an unexpected death, estate planning is the best way to provide instruction of how to dispose of your estate after death. 

        All people of all ages should have a will. According to the United Way, as many as two-thirds of adults in America do not have a will and sixty percent die without one. Understandably, most delays and avoidance of creating will is caused by the uncomfortable feeling you get at the thought of your own death. When you die without proper estate planning, you are said to have died “intestate.” Without proper estate planning, the State of North Carolina will decide what happens to your assets and there is no guarantee that your estate will go to whom you wish or that your children will be cared for by whom you wish. For new parents and parents with small children, having a will is imperative and protects against these pressing issues. A will provides the opportunity for you to designate a guardian and leave your estate to whom you wish. 
         Each state has different laws regarding intestate succession, so be sure to know the legal ramifications and consequences of dying without proper estate planning. In the event that one parent dies unexpectedly without a will, most states would only allow your spouse to receive approximately one-third to one-half of your estate and the rest would be put away for your children until they become adults. In the same situation the state will appoint an administrator (charging service fees) to control the estate and funds until each child turns 18. This means your spouse would not be able to access the funds for assistance in raising your children without going through a very complicated legal procedure. This procedure requires yearly accounting and documentation to be given to the court of how the funds will be used.


So Here is what Happens In North Carolina if You Die Without a Will 

DIE WITH:                                                                                        WHAT HAPPENS:
CHILDREN AND NO SPOUSE                                         Children Inherit everything
SPOUSE BUT NO CHILDREN OR PARENTS               Spouse inherits everything
SPOUSE AND ONE CHILD (OR DESCENDANT OF ONE CHILD) Spouse inherits ½ of your intestate real estate and a portion of your intestate personal property (if you die with personal property worth $60,000 or less, your spouse inherits all of it; if you have more than $60,000 worth of personal property, your spouse inherits $60,000 plus ½ of the balance)
Children or descendants inherit 1/3 of your intestate real estate and any intestate personal property remaining after the spouse’s share.
SPOUSE AND TWO OR MORE CHILDREN (OR DESCENDANTS OF THOSE CHILDREN) Spouse inherits 1/3 of your intestate real estate and a portion of your intestate personal property (if you die with personal property worth $60,000 or less, your spouse inherits all of it; if you have more than $60,000 work of personal property, your spouse inherits $60,000 plus 1/3 of the balance)
Children or descendants inherit 1/3 of your intestate real estate and any intestate personal property remaining after the spouse’s share.

 

Making changes to your current will: Making changes to your Will is painless and easy depending on its complexity. Any change to a simple Will can be made by codicil. A codicil is simply an amendment to the original Will and Testament. If you currently have a Will and have had recent changes in your circumstances such as: a recent divorce, your children are no longer minors, the death of a spouse has occurred, or you now have grandchildren it is a good idea to update your Will.


As you can see there are many reasons why one should invest in estate planning, whether you have little to no assets or too many assets. Drafting a simple Will is something that can be done without the help of an attorney; however, if not properly executed the validity of the document is in question. At the Conner Law Firm, we understand the importance of estate planning for people of all ages and the role they play in everyday life. With a reputation that produces positive results, we will analyze your planning needs and work with you to determine the best means of transferring assets, minimizing taxes, and establishing guardianship. Give our office a call to inquire about how we can assist you.


The above article was written by Jackquelynne Locklear-McLeod, our student intern for fall semester 2014, who graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 2011 with a degree in English and Economics and is currently in the paralegal program at Central Piedmont Community College.

 

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