April 22, 2024

Ethical Wills and Legacy Planning – The Heart and Soul of Estate Planning

We’ve all seen it before, the backbone of the family dies leaving no will, trust, or insurance and – with her gone – the family fell apart. Family fights erupted and what assets she was able to accumulate during her life have dwindled away to pay unnecessary probate costs, attorney fees, taxes, and the cost of court battles waged over her estate by the family she left behind. Eventually, her family scattered to the winds, taking away with them only resentment of each other and virtually no memory of what she tried to instill in them. That is her legacy.

Legacy Planning is critical for us all to do. It can be simple, painless, and the most valuable investment we make in our family. Legacy Planning is comprised of two elements: Estate Planning and creation of what is called an Ethical Will. [Read more…]

Business Succession Planning

A business succession plan is like estate planning for your business. And just like humans, businesses have a life cycle.

First, in the beginning of our business, we may have incorporated them, gotten a tax-id number, and gotten our permits and licenses to conduct business in the state.

Then, during the life of our businesses we devote much time and money nurturing it, marketing, developing, networking, researching, and sacrificing time away from family and a fun social life. Our businesses represent a huge, valuable investment of ourselves.
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When Should An Estate Plan Be Reviewed

If you already have an estate plan, it should not be considered permanent. Conditions, as well as your desires, change. Your plan will try to fairly anticipate some of these changes within reason. However, even though it may be a forward looking plan, we all have to revisit our estate plans to update them for events which happen to us.

I advise my clients to review their plans annually, maybe around the holidays or at their birthdate, and come back to me to discuss them if something significant happened that year. [Read more…]

What Can An Estate Plan Do For You?

When a person dies without having a valid estate plan in place, his or her property passes by what is called “intestate succession” to heirs according to state law. In other words, if a person doesn’t have a will, the state will make one for him or her. However, this generic default can differ dramatically from what the person actually would have wished for their belongings and loved ones. Even when it is known by all involved what the person “would have wanted,” no exceptions are made where no valid will exists. Nor are there any exceptions made based on need, hardship, or special circumstances. [Read more…]

What Is Probate Law: A Procedure That Doesn’t Have to be a Problem

Once someone close to us has died, in addition to the monumental process of managing the shock and grieving our loss, we soon have to turn to the business of handling this person’s final matters. This would include non-judicial tasks such as handling the funeral arrangements. But it also includes the legal procedure called probate also known in North Carolina as Estate Administration. The probate process begins immediately after death.


The word probate has Latin roots and means “to prove” and, appropriately, one of the tasks which must be performed as a part of the probate process is “proving the will.” However,
“probate” as a legal process is much more involved than merely “proving a will.”  For instance, probate takes place whether a person died with a will and/or a trust (they died “testate”) or without a will (they died “intestate”).  To succinctly sum up the practical meaning of probate, one could say that probate is the process of gathering information about a deceased person’s assets and creditors and handling them in strict accordance with the laws of North Carolina and US all while following the governance of the deceased person’s will/trust as supervised by the Clerk of Superior Court.  [Read more…]

Why You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney to Represent You

Can I Apply for Benefits Without an Attorney?
You may have been told that you do not need an attorney. That all you have to do is tell the judge or case worker about your situation and you will be approved for benefits. This is not true. Even those who are so obviously and completely disabled have had their claims repeatedly denied by the Social Security Administration. If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits despite having a physical or mental condition that makes you unable to work, you’re probably feeling some mix of anger and confusion. You should immediately call an attorney to help you assess your options before you miss any deadlines. [Read more…]