Westall, Gray & Connolly, P.A. | firstname.lastname@example.org | 828-254-6315 | Hours: M-F 8:30am - 5pm
Estate Planning is one of the more thought inducing challenges an individual can be in. Everyone wants to proceed in an extremely careful manner when passing along one's assets to future generations. Whether it is maintaining a certain balance of investments for future growth, or concerns about leaving assets among multiple generations in a fair and equitable way, we can arm you with a wide range of options to help you achieve your goals.
We can rely on 45 years of experience and knowledge to help you arrive at the estate plan that makes you feel confident about the future.
Whether you simply wish to pass along personal property or help divide business interests, we can help you implement the best plan for you.
After a loved one passes away, Estate Administration can be a unique, and challenging experience that can quickly become confusing. North Carolina imposes several duties on those charged with the responsibility for administering the estate.
Our firm has been advising clients who serve in the role of a personal representative or executor for many years. In either capacity, we work in constant contact with the heirs, the executors, or personal representatives, to assist in taking care of the estate in as timely a manner as possible and dealing with the myriad of issues that any estate can present.
Not all estates are the same, and we will make sure that you find the estate proceeding that best addresses your situation.
The good news is that more and more people are living longer and more fulfilling lives.
The hard part of this comes when the elder people you care deeply about have trouble making all of the necessary decisions for themselves as they get far along in age.
Our laws allow us a specific manner to care for those who need some extra protection through a Guardianship. In a guardianship, the court will appoint one person as a guardian, and the person in need of protection as the ward. Once granted by the court, the guardian is vested with certain legal powers to make decisions on behalf of the ward.
Guardianships can range in what they cover. If the primary concern is being taken advantage of financially, one can ask the Court to impose a Guardianship simply over the persons' finances, meaning the ward has full autonomy in all other aspects of his or her life.
Guardianships can range all the way to a guardianship over the whole person, meaning the guardian would have healthcare responsibilities, living responsibilities as well as financial maintenance.
Why do I need a will?
If you should die without a will, it is possible that all of your savings, house, and belongings may not find its way to your children, spouse, siblings, or whomever you were closest to at the time of your passing. It could all go haywire. Will can also assist in appointing guardians for your children if
Without a will, your estate passes through intestate succession, a series of laws that changes from time to time, that dictates how your assets will be divided. Without a will, someone close to you may not be provided for as you had planned, while someone else may receive part of your estate, such as your in-laws.
A will may be the most important planning document you create in your lifetime. By having a will in place, you have complete assurance that the people closest to you will benefit from the efforts you have made during your lifetime.
Here at Westall, Gray & Connolly, we strive to provide you with a will that best suits your needs and addresses your concerns.
Trusts are most useful for managing money and property. A carefully crafted Trust allows you to set up a management plan to benefit those you care about after you are no longer able to do so.
Here at Westall, Gray & Connolly, P.A., we can review your goals and plans with you, and provide the best legal options for you. No two people are alike, so we understand the importance of finding the best individual plan that works for you.
The Living Trust allows you to be in charge of your trust during your life.
Here are a few of the useful applications for creating Living Trusts
A Trust can also be very useful for the purposes of preserving the wealth you have accumulated, allowing it to be available to those you want to support down the road.
Establishing a Trust can assist with the Estate Administration after you have passed. Trusts allow for flexibility in handling assets that can lend support to your Estate, and your Executor, in addressing your final expenses.
Living Trust allows you to serve as your own Trustee for the duration of your life, or until you wish to pass off the responsibility.
The Living Trust is also revocable, meaning that you can discard the Trust if events in your life change.
Irrevocable trusts are most effective to protect a third party, often a child, grandchild, or someone younger, or who may need additional assistance down the road.
If you place funds into an irrevocable trust for the benefit of a third party, the funds can remain protected from creditors, and thus remain continually available to support the beneficiary of the trust.
Special Needs Trusts are a fairly recent creation of federal law allowing loved ones to support an individual who may be dependent on Medicaid to receive all of the assistance that he or she needs on a day to day basis.
Medicaid has very specific income requirements to be able to qualify to receive treatment paid for by Medicaid. Any type of economic support you provide to another person can be considered income by Medicaid, including food, shelter, and money. While it may seem counterintuitive, if you provide too much assistance to an individual on Medicaid, you may accidentally have him or her kicked off of Medicaid.
The Special Needs Trusts allows for supplemental expenses, that Medicaid does not cover, to be provided to the Medicaid recipient - without affecting Medicaid's income calculator.
Special Needs Trusts can help pay for entertainment, beds, food, clothes, and other basic items of care for people in need without disqualifying them from receiving federal assistance.
Trustees are in charge of following the instructions in the trust, commonly known as "trust administration."
The trust is created when the Settlor (or Grantor) of the Trust deposits money or property into the Trust and selects someone as the Trustee to run the Trust.
Trustees, under the law, have many obligations imposed on them, some of which include:
Fiduciary Duty - this imposes a duty on the Trustee to act wisely and prudently with the money, or property in the Trust. The Trustee must be careful in how the Trustee handles the funds, or how much money the Trustee distributes to the beneficiaries, or where the Trustee invests the money.
Prudent Investor Rule - Trustees are subject to the Prudent Investor Rule, meaning the Trustee could be responsible if the Trustee takes too great a risk of investing the trust money. This can include investing all of the trust funds in one entity or stock; should the stock lose its value, the Trust will shrink as a whole.
We assist Trustees in navigating the perils of trust administration, including drafting releases and obtaining beneficiary consents to ensure that the Trustee is protected to the maximum extent possible. We can serve as a guide for potential conflicts that may arise in the Trust Administration Process and advice on the tax consequences of Trust Administrations.
The major value in estate planning is to prepare in the event something unexpected happens. This can include your loyal companions as well.
If a family is unable to take over or provide for your pets, they may be given away or adopted, if suitable ownership is not able to be found.
Pet trusts enable you to leave funds for the care and adoption of your pet, as well as setting standards of care. While you can have a say in designating ownership for your animal, if you are unable to see their life through, the provision of funds increases the ability for others to care for the animal in the way that you know they need to be cared for.
Every estate will be overseen by the Clerk of Court in what is known as the Estate Administration. The Clerk's role is to supervise the payments of debts and passing of property.
Estate administration consists of several filings with the Clerk of Court to assist the Clerk in overseeing payments and distributions to heirs and beneficiaries.
Just as in life, this part of the estate can become complex quickly. Questions can arise as to which debts need to be paid, and what information will the Clerk need to approve the papers that are filed with the Clerk of Court?
If you are in charge of the Estate, you do carry the risk of personal liability; and can be the target of impatient beneficiaries. We have plenty of experience in working advising Executors and Administrators, otherwise known as the Personal Representatives, in handling each phase of the estate. We are well versed with the information that the Clerk of Court will need, and will be glad to share our knowledge with you to lighten your load.