This guide will help you to understand the importance of Estate Planning and the basic Estate Planning tools in North Carolina.
Last Will & Testament
Having a Last Will & Testament in place allows you to control how your property is distributed at your death. Without a Will, state law will determine how your property and personal belongings will be distributed, which means there is no guarantee that your property will pass according to your wishes. A Will also allows you to appoint an executor to administer your estate and distribute the proceeds accordingly.
Power of Attorney
Having a Power of Attorney in place allows you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf, while you are alive. The agent that you appoint will be able to assist you with paying bills, handling business or property transactions, etc. The agent that you designate as your Power of Attorney must act according to your wishes. Further, once you pass, the Power of Attorney is no longer valid.
A Living Will allows you to specify your healthcare wishes in the event you become terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. Such wishes include how much life support you wish to receive, whether you wish to be given food and water tubes, etc.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so. You will also be able to provide specific instructions on your burial, disposition of remains, and other important healthcare decisions. A Healthcare Power of Attorney is only effective after a doctor determines you cannot make medical decisions for yourself.
There are several different types of trusts that can be used to allocate and distribute your property. A trust is established to hold and transfer your assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries, which is managed by a trustee of your choosing. A trust may be established during your lifetime in a separate document or following your death under your will. Further, a trust can make distributions to beneficiaries as specified by the terms of the trust, it may earn income, and it may pay taxes on undistributed income. Some of the most commonly used trusts are the Testamentary Trust, Irrevocable Trust, Revocable Trust, and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.
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