1. What documents should be in my estate plan:
- Will – to distribute your property in the way YOU want after you pass (otherwise, the state’s “default” rules apply to YOUR estate).
- Power of Attorney – Allows a person(s) you choose to handle your affairs if you are unable to do so yourself (i.e. property, bills, taxes, etc.) due to severe illness, incapacity.
- Living Will (or Advance Health Care Directive) – Specifies what your wishes are in regards to terminal care, i.e. feed tubes, do not recessitate orders, etc.
- Health Care Power of Attorney – Allows a person(s) you choose to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself due to severe illness, incapacity.
2. Why it is so important:
If any of the above documents are incomplete or missing, North Carolina has default rules about who and what can be decided. For example, the current law specifies how your property would be split between your spouse and your children. Of course, you can do just about anything you’d like with a proper will, but without one, you leave it up to the state. What if you and your spouse pass away at the same time – what then? Or custody of your children? Don’t leave it to the state to “figure it out”.
3. Isn’t LegalZoom.com cheaper? Can’t I just do it myself?
Technically, yes and yes. However – you spend years and years to save up enough to hopefully leave a little (or a lot) something behind – don’t take a chance that it won’t be valid! One simple example – if the will isn’t witnessed and signed properly, the state will throw out the ENTIRE will – not just certain portions, and then your property will pass according to those “default” rules… not your intentions. Don’t “go cheap” to save a few dollars and risk leaving your family without the protections you worked so hard to provide. Whether you hire our firm or another, be sure to have a qualified attorney review your plan to make sure your wishes are followed.
4. But won’t an attorney cost an arm and a leg?
“It depends”. In actuality, most attorneys are very reasonably priced on estate planning. Our firm offers comprehensive estate planning packages starting at around $800-$1,000/person, depending on the complexity and amount of potential assets to be distributed.
5. How Can I Be Sure?
We do NOT charge you to consult on estate planning – let us meet with you and discuss your situation, and we will let you know what we can do, various options you may have and exactly how much it will cost to complete your package. We are a “flat rate” firm when it comes to estate planning. If it takes us more time than we estimate to complete your package, there are no additional fees! We want you to be 100% satisfied with our work and we will work until you are!