Charlotte Estate Planning Blog

Setting money aside for life after reanimation

North Carolina residents who have ever contemplated cryonics may be interested to learn that there is an estate planning solution for them. For some people, the idea of having their body scientifically frozen when they die with the hopes that it could be revived one day in the future is a viable option. One concern that they may have is how they will be able to afford to live after being revived if they have no access to funds. The answer is a revival trust.

With a revival trust, assets are set aside and supervised by a lawyer or by another professional. If science reaches the point where a person who has been cryogenically frozen can be revived and live a second time, there will be money for that individual to live on.

The value of estate planning for singles without kids

You may have friends and acquaintances around your age who are making plans for the future. That may include planning for retirement, downsizing their homes or writing their wills. While you may have similar goals in the near future, perhaps you have not given much thought to estate planning because you are single with no children. Unlike your friends with kids, you may feel there is no need to provide for your heirs. However, estate planning is much more than this.

Your plan for the end of your life can have many facets, some of which will be critical if an emergency arises and you are unable to speak for yourself. Understanding the options available to you for planning your estate may lead you to realize the time is here to seek advice about the appropriate steps for your circumstances.

How family dynamics make estate planning tough

Family dynamics can complicate the process of estate planning in North Carolina and around the country. According to a survey from Key Private Bank, 77 percent of respondents said that this was the toughest issue for their clients to overcome. Those who took part in the survey had clients with at least $2 million in assets. While emotions can be hard to account for in an estate plan, 43 percent of respondents said that it was worse to not have a plan at all.

According to the advisers in the survey, people generally don't think about their estate plan or understand that anyone can benefit from it. Respondents said that even clients who are in their 30's should think about estate planning. Furthermore, many don't understand that they could need more than just a will to properly distribute their assets.

Estate plans with revocable trusts

One reason North Carolina residents may want to include revocable trusts in their estate plans is to make sure that their assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes. There are many ways the distribution can be handled. The grantor can opt to use a different trust for each beneficiary. Assets can also be distributed all at once, apportioned into equal or unequal parts, allocated to favorite charities, held in a trust to be used by great-grandchildren and more.

Revocable trusts can also be used as a form of protection from creditors for heirs. This can be accomplished by restricting the rights of the beneficiaries to extract the principal from the trust. The beneficiaries can be allowed to receive an income from the trust and any other financial support needed for their support, education and maintenance as stipulated by the trust provision. The trust can provide a significant income for the heirs while protecting the assets in the trust from not only creditor suits filed against the beneficiaries, but also divorces, litigation judgments, medical expenses or investment debts.

How making an estate plan can benefit people

Some Charlotte residents may not immediately recognize why they need an estate plan. While marriage and children prompt many to consider the future of their assets and how to distribute them, younger or single people may not see the need for a will, trusts or other estate documents. This is especially true for people who are not particularly wealthy. However, there are a number of reasons why people of all backgrounds may want to consider an estate plan to benefit themselves and those they love.

In the first place, making an estate plan isn't only about dividing a person's belongings after death. Powers of attorney are critical documents to have in place in case of an unexpected incapacity that could take place after an accident or other emergency. Legal and financial powers of attorney can name a trusted individual to manage business matters or even just pay the bills while a person is unable to do so. In addition, an advance directive or living will can specify the kind of actions to be taken in case of incapacity as well as naming a health care proxy to make critical decisions at that difficult time.

Are you hesitating to sign a power of attorney?

If your estate plan does not include a power of attorney designation, that may be because you have some confusion about what the document is or about what it may mean for your future. Certainly, it is not easy to think that a day may come when you cannot make financial, legal or medical decisions for yourself, and signing those powers over to someone else may be a terrifying prospect.

There is a delicate balance between protecting yourself now and protecting yourself in the future, but since no one knows if or when they may become incapacitated, it is wise to have a POA in place. Learning as much as you can about the POA is the first step to overcoming your fears and misconceptions.

The importance of an estate plan

People in North Carolina should strongly consider developing an estate plan, even if they do not have any children or close relatives. An estate plan can be very useful in helping people to manage their assets and prepare for the unexpected events that may occur in their life.

All adults should have an estate plan that includes a durable power of attorney for financial and legal decisions and an advance directive for medical care. With these documents, people can designate someone they trust to make important medical, legal and financial decisions on their behalf if they should become incapacitated. If these documents are not completed, there will be certain decisions that even the spouse of an incapacitated person will not have the legal authority to make. An absence of these documents also means that the courts will have to conduct a guardianship or conservatorship to have someone appointed to be in charge of such decisions, and it is not guaranteed that the court-appointed person will be someone who the incapacitated person would know or would approve of.

Balance secrecy with trust beneficiaries' right to know

Trusts provide vehicles for people in North Carolina to pass on assets to heirs. Benefactors sometimes want to keep these trusts secret, at least for a time, so that younger heirs will not grow up with the expectation of receiving a large inheritance. Concerns about young people developing a spoiled attitude or wasting their lives prompt benefactors to withhold information from their heirs. The law, however, could likely require some form of disclosure eventually.

The laws favor the notion that beneficiaries have a right to know that a trust is being managed responsibly. Benefactors typically can delay informing beneficiaries until they reach age 25. Some methods exist that allow benefactors to limit adult beneficiaries' access to information. State law determines how the terms of a trust can restrict disclosure to beneficiaries.

The tools that can help organize an estate

Everyone currently living in North Carolina and everywhere else in America will die one day. Therefore, it is worth taking time now to plan for what happens to everything left behind when that happens. Basic estate plan tactics include creating a will and designating an executor. An executor can be a friend, family member or any other trusted person, and it is possible to have more than one executive.

Parents can name guardians for their children and provide money and other resources for them through such a document. For some, a will won't be enough to meet their needs. Therefore, it can be a good idea to consider creating a trust. Before creating the trust, it is a good idea to make a list of all assets a person could have including checking accounts or employer retirement accounts. Trusts can be ideal for those who feel as if a will may be challenged.

Tips for charitable giving as part of an estate plan

Some North Carolina residents who are creating an estate plan may want to include a charitable donation. This can be a way for people to support a cause that is important to them during their lifetime. It can also be a way to reduce estate tax. There are several ways in which to arrange this charitable donation.

A person can simply include the charitable donation in the will. The person may want to work with an attorney to ensure that the correct language is used. Another option is making a charity the beneficiary on a retirement account. Charities do not have to pay income or estate tax, so whatever the value of the retirement account, they will be able to receive it tax free.

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