What should my will say?
A properly drafted will can ensure your final wishes and desires are fulfilled for the transfers of remaining assets at death. A will can also avoid disadvantages that may affect a loved one if they inherit money, such as subsequent ineligibility for government benefits or the inheritance of large sums of money by a minor child.
If someone dies without a will, their assets are distributed under the intestate succession laws of North Carolina. Intestate succession laws are designed to provide your assets to certain relatives in very specified amounts. Most people do not want to have their assets pass by intestate succession, as those laws would not fulfill their wishes. By having a will, you will be able to direct who receives what of your property at death.
The attorneys at Booth Harrington & Johns will consult with you to provide an individualized and customized document that will fulfill your plans for your spouse, children or other loved ones after your death. Some of the items that will be discussed with your estate planning attorney include:
• Tax Planning: If your estate is large enough, it is essential to do tax planning to maximize the assets left to your spouse and children, and minimize the amount payable to the government. This can include the use of trusts that will be established at death, and the use of formula driven bequests to ensure that your estate tax exemption is fully utilized.
• Charitable Planning: You may desire to leave assets to a charity. A will is a wonderful way to ensure that your final wishes and charitable intentions are fulfilled. This can be done through direct bequests, or through the use of a detailed and tailored trust that would be established at death.
• Personal Representatives: You can identify the individual(s), corporation(s) and/or bank(s) you would like to serve as your personal representatives. These persons complete the probate process to ensure the provisions of your will are followed and adhered to in distribution of assets and payments of expenses. Additionally, those persons may serve as trustee, if trusts are created under your will at death.
• Guardian: A will is the appropriate place to name your selection of guardian for your minor child or disabled adult child. The courts seek to honor the designation of a guardian in a will if the appointment of that guardian is challenged after your death.
• Distributions To Beneficiaries: A will allows the distribution of property to those people you identify. It can be as specific as you want to make sure the people you want to receive your property get what you want them to have. A will also allows you to include trust provisions to control access by beneficiaries to liquid funds or other assets.
• Personal Representative Powers: The powers provided in the will can be modified to ensure those serving after your death have only those powers you want to designate. We can help you determine what powers are necessary and how to incorporate any limitations on those powers to prevent misuse of estate or trust funds by your personal representatives.