Issues with Estate Planning in Winston-Salem

There are numerous obstacles that can arise during the estate planning process. Mistakes that are made in an estate plan could follow you for the rest of your life and could complicate the lives of your family members after your passing.

These issues can take many forms. From beneficiary problems to the lack of formalities required by law, these challenges could lead to long-term consequences for those you love. A dedicated estate planning attorney at Apple Payne Law can help you resolve any issues with estate planning in Winston-Salem.

Missing Formalities

The law that governs estate planning documents in Winston-Salem is very formal. This means that there are formalities that must be met in order for the documents to be considered valid. Failure to meet the requirements set out in the law could negate the entire estate plan.

The estate planning document with the harshest formal requirements is the last will and testament. A will must be executed by a person that is at least 18 years of age and they must be of a sound mind. They must also sign the will themselves or have someone do it for them while in their presence. Additionally, wills must be signed in front of witnesses, and the will should be notarized. If any of these formalities are missing, a clerk could rule the will to be invalid, which could cause anything from a hassle (having to follow different probate rules to get the same result) or outright disinheritance, for example if the beneficiary named in the will was not a legal heir of the decedent (such as non-adopted step children, charitable agencies or friends).

Lack of a Residual Clause

A comprehensive estate plan should take into account every asset a person owns. While there could be a variety of estate planning tools used to distribute these assets, together they should account for everything within the estate.

Unfortunately, assets have the potential to fall through the cracks. This is especially problematic in cases where the purpose of the estate plan is to avoid probate. If a trust document does not account for every asset, probate could become necessary.

A residual clause is language in a trust or will that includes anything owned by the estate that is not mentioned in the document. This ensures that even items not individually mentioned in a trust or will are covered by the estate plan. A knowledgeable attorney at Apple Payne Law can review an individual’s estate plan in Winston-Salem to ensure that there are no issues with missing information.

Absence of Accurate Beneficiary Information

Another common—and often costly—issue is the lack of accurate beneficiary designations. Every estate planning tool will involve some sort of beneficiary designation. A beneficiary is a party that is set to receive the assets from the estate at the end of the process.

One of the most problematic issues someone might encounter in Winston-Salem is when an estate planning asset lacks any beneficiary designation at all. When there is no designation for a specific recipient, it could cause a cascade of problems in the estate plan, or cause the entire asset (such as life insurance) to go through probate, rather than being distributed straight to the heirs. Not only would this increase legal fees from $0 to potentially thousands, it could delay payment of the funds to the heirs/beneficiaries by months if not even years.

An additional point of concern is outdated beneficiary information. Major life changes could result in different priorities for a person developing an estate plan. For example, a marriage or divorce could change a person’s outlook on their financial assets following their passing. The failure to update recipient information to reflect these life changes could cause problems in the future. Further, North Carolina law considers provisions regarding an ex-spouse after divorce to be void, but if the will is not updated, then it may not dispense the estates funds in accordance with the persons wishes.

Discuss Any Issues with Estate Planning in Winston-Salem with an Attorney

These are only a handful of the many complex issues that can arise during the estate planning process. What’s more, estate planning is an ongoing effort that must be overseen for the rest of your life and should be updated every couple of years, but especially after major life events. Schedule a consultation with a skilled attorney at Apple Payne Law to discuss any issues with estate planning in Winston-Salem.

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