trust & probate administration Archives

Financial preparations for the future

Some people in North Carolina and other states across the United States will reach a point where they are incapacitated and unable to provide care for themselves without some kind of assistance. As people age, Alzheimer's and other health conditions can impact their daily lives, making it difficult for them to make financial decisions. Any kind of accident could result in someone being incapacitated as well, which can happen at any age.

What happens in the probate process

People in North Carolina who have been appointed executors of a loved one's estate as well as those who have lost loved ones might wonder what the probate process is like and how long it will take. Although this can vary a great deal based on the complexity of the estate and any legal challenges, there is a basic structure that many estates will follow.

How to tell if an estate plan isn't complete

Ideally, residents of North Carolina will review their estate plans on a regular basis. Failing to do so could mean that it is missing key components such as an advanced medical directive or a will. It could also mean that the plan doesn't have updated beneficiary designations or that assets are distributed outright instead of in a trust. Ultimately, this may mean that a plan is executed against a person's true wishes.

Possible benefits of avoiding probate

When North Carolina residents die, their assets may need to go through probate. However, there are strategies that a person may employ to skip this process. This may allow an estate to transfer assets in a timely manner, which may provide clarity to beneficiaries as to what they will receive and when. Avoiding probate may also save an estate money.

Planning for health care during retirement

When making plans for their retirement, North Carolina residents should remember to also include their health care. This is one aspect of retirement that some people fail to plan for, which can result in a major hit on their savings if an unexpected medical crisis occurs.

How to make the role of executor easier to handle

If a North Carolina resident is named the executor of an estate, that person is responsible for overseeing and protecting an estate's assets throughout the probate process. While the job may seem overwhelming, it may be possible to do it properly by staying organized. An important step in settling an estate's affairs is to obtain a death certificate. Typically, multiple copies will be needed, and executors should order more than they think will be needed.

Digital assets as part of an estate plan

North Carolina residents should incorporate digital asset planning as part of their overall estate plan. This may make it easier for others to clean out, shut down or otherwise manage email accounts, bank accounts and other online properties. In some states such as North Carolina, access to electronic accounts may be governed by the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, or RUFADAA. This generally allows a designated party to access electronic accounts stored in a computer, phone or cloud network.

The importance of keeping beneficiary designations current

People in North Carolina who are creating an estate plan should make sure they remember to include beneficiary designations. These are the individuals who receive assets such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, which do not have to go through probate. Since beneficiary designations are separate from the documents that people often think about when planning their estates, such as wills and trusts, it is not uncommon that they often are forgotten.

Using transfer on death to bypass probate

North Carolina residents might wonder how they can arrange their estates to avoid probate. One man named his daughter as a beneficiary on investments and left her his car and home in his will. He wondered if there might be a better way of doing this.

Risk mitigation for trustees

As an increasing number of North Carolina residents are establishing new estate plans, trusts are becoming more complex. Today's trusts contain many more assets, including entire businesses. As new trusts evolve, more litigation is occurring to test these plans. It is important that trustees understand their roles and the potential risks of litigation so that they can protect themselves.

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