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Oxford, North Carolina Estate Planning Lawyer

Wills, Estate Planning & Administration

For many people, planning what happens to their property and possession upon their death is not a subject they enjoy spending a lot of time thinking about. Nevertheless, good estate planning can relieve a great burden for surviving family members and loved ones. Comprehensive and solid estate planning involves not only addressing what happens after death, but also includes making provisions for what should happen in the event you become unable to make for yourself some or all of the everyday decisions life presents.

In most instances, comprehensive estate planning can be accomplished by three documents:  a Last Will and Testament; a Power of Attorney; and a Heath Care Power of Attorney. These documents will make things easier on your family in the event you are incapacitated and ultimately make the final administration of your estate (Probate) simpler.

Last Will and Testament

Signing a Last Will and Testament is a solemn occasion, undertaken by most individuals when they realize they are not going to live forever and they need to plan for the benefit of those they are leaving behind. At Watson Law it is an honor to work with clients to draft a last will and testament that addresses their needs concerns and reaches the desired result under North Carolina law. Whether it is a complex instrument with testamentary trusts and guardianship provisions or a straight-forward list of bequests and devises, we have the expertise and experience to ask the right questions and make sure all of the potential issues are addressed.

Some items to think about when contacting our office for an initial consultation regarding a Last Will and Testament are:

  • How are the titles to your bank or brokerage accounts held?  Banking or investment accounts can be jointly titled with right of survivorship, payable on death, or held in an individual’s name alone, and this can make a significant difference in adopting the right approach for estate planning.
  • Who are the named beneficiaries on your life insurance policies; 401(k); or other retirement accounts?
  • How is the title held to any real property or land you own or have an interest in?
  • What vehicles do you have in your name?
  • Who would you want to designate as the Personal Representative (Executor / Executrix) for your estate?  This would be the individual charged with the responsibility of carrying out the terms of your Will in compliance with North Carolina law.
  • Who would you want to designate as a Trustee of any Trust created under your Last Will and Testament?  This individual could have an ongoing responsibility to manage assets for the benefit of a minor or others who you may designate.
  • Who would you want to designate as a Guardian for minor children or others of whom you have custody?

Power of Attorney

This document is aptly named, as it is one of the most powerful documents many people will sign. A Power of Attorney is a document by which one person – "Person A", known as the "Grantor," gives another person – "Person B", known as "the Attorney-in-Fact" the power and authority to do or undertake some action on his/her behalf. Simply put, one who gives another his power of attorney puts that person in his legal shoes. Powers of Attorney can be limited in scope. For instance, Person A can authorize Person B to sign one specific document on his behalf. However, in the estate planning context, most of the Powers of Attorney desired and drafted are durable and all encompassing. Durable, meaning that the authority Person A has granted to Person B is good even in the event that Person A later loses his mental capacity to make daily decisions or act for himself. All encompassing, meaning that the authority granted is very broad and intended to enable Person B to handle any and all business decisions for Person A.  This simple but powerful document is an essential tool for proper estate planning and can, in many instances, save a great deal of time and money by avoiding the need for a Court-monitored Guardianship.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

This document is crafted for the purpose of allowing an individual "Person A" to name another person his/her "Heath Care Agent."  The Health Care Agent can make some or all healthcare decisions on behalf of Person A, in the event Person A could not make those same decisions for himself.  In the right instances, this document is invaluable. At Watson Law, P.C., we take full advantage of the Advanced Health Care Directive Registry as provided by the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State. We encourage our clients to register their Health Care Powers of Attorney, thereby making this document easily accessible online whenever it is needed.

Ready to Meet your Estate Planning Needs

We prepare Last Will and Testament, a Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney or any other estate planning documents. Please contact our office regarding any fees and questions you may have about the items listed above or to set up an initial consultation.

Estate Administration

Experiencing the death of a loved one can make for the most stressful point in many people’s lives. Following, and often in conjunction with a period of grief, comes the responsibility of taking care of the deceased person’s business:  paying debts, collecting accounts, gathering and valuing assets and distributing property and personal possessions according to the deceased’s Last Will and Testament and/or North Carolina law.  This can be an exacting process. Every penny of funds received and every item of personal property devised must be properly accounted for. The estate administration process or Probate is designed by law to be open and transparent.

We at Watson Law, P.C. have the expertise and experience needed to guide you through every step of the estate administration process. From qualification as Personal Representative, through filing of the Inventory and all subsequent accounts, our lawyers and staff are ready, willing and certainly able to make the process as smooth as possible. We routinely handle estates in Granville County and the surrounding region and would be glad to assist you in this process. Contact us today to learn more.

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