Skilled Counsel for Estate Planning in North Carolina
Experienced Attorneys in Elizabeth City, Moyock, and the Outer Banks Helping Individuals and Families with a Variety of Estate Planning Matters
Estate planning is crucial for anyone who wants peace of mind that their wishes will be carried out when they pass. While every estate plan is different, each one generally involves developing a plan to transfer assets to your loved ones and using strategies to minimize tax consequences and other costs. By having a comprehensive estate plan in place, you can ensure your property is distributed to your chosen beneficiaries, rather than let a judge decide the outcome as dictated by state law. An estate planning lawyer is crucial for this process.
At The Twiford Law Firm, we assist individuals and their families with a variety of estate planning and elder law matters. Providing caring representation and attentive counsel, our attorneys are committed to helping clients satisfy their goals. From drafting wills, establishing trusts, and handling probate disputes, we work closely with clients so they can understand their various options and implement the best course of action for realizing their objectives.
Legal Assistance for Wills, Trusts, and Probate
Contrary to what many people might believe, estate planning is not just for the affluent. It is for anyone who wants to protect their assets and provide for their loved ones, regardless of income level. Significantly, an estate plan can include much more than a will — and in some cases, your loved ones may be able to avoid the lengthy and costly probate process entirely. Our attorneys work with clients to create tailored estate plans that address their specific financial and family circumstances.
While drafting a will can save your family certain legal hassles, there are various other estate planning tools that can be used to settle your affairs after your passing. Significantly, even a basic estate plan should include at least five documents: a will, a general durable power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, a living will, and a HIPAA authorization form.
The Twiford Law Firm’s comprehensive estate planning services include:
- Preparing last will and testaments — A will is the foundation of every estate plan and allows an individual to transfer assets and property to their beneficiaries upon their passing.
- Consultations for powers of attorney — A healthcare power of attorney authorizes an individual to make decisions regarding your medical treatment if you become unable to do so. A financial power of attorney allows a person you appoint to manage your finances and everyday affairs.
- Advising regarding living wills — A living will, also called an advanced health care directive, states the medical care you would like to receive if you become incapacitated and cannot make the decision yourself.
- Drafting trust instruments — Various trusts can be used to protect assets, distribute property, and avoid probate in some cases.
- Implementing tax-saving strategies — There are a number of strategies that can be used in the estate planning process to minimize estate taxes and alleviate tax liabilities. We refer all of our clients to a certified tax professional to assist with estate tax issues.
- Advising executors and administrators — Serving as an executor of an estate is a significant responsibility that involves many complex tasks, including handling tax filings, paying claims against the estate, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
- Representing clients in probate disputes — It’s not uncommon for disputes to arise during the probate process. For example, a will might be contested, an executor may not communicate with the beneficiaries of the estate, or allegations of misconduct may be made. In such cases, probate litigation may be necessary to resolve these matters.
- Handling guardianship issues — When a person can no longer handle their own affairs or they become incapacitated, it may be necessary to secure the appointment of a guardian to ensure they receive the care they need.
- Special needs planning — Special needs planning can help families make the appropriate arrangements for a child or family member with a disability, while still maintaining their eligibility for certain benefits such as Medicaid and Social Security Disability.
At The Twiford Law Firm, we know that estate planning can be emotional and overwhelming. Our compassionate attorneys take the time needed to become thoroughly acquainted with each client and their situation. With a focus on utilizing each client’s financial resources in the most effective manner possible, we skillfully ensure that provisions are made for their long-term care, while preserving assets for their heirs.
Using Trusts to Avoid Probate in North Carolina
There are many different types of trusts used in estate planning. In North Carolina, a trust can be used to avoid probate for almost any assets, such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and personal property. In addition to having a valid will in place, trusts can serve specific purposes — including allowing your beneficiaries to access their inheritances much more quickly.
Trusts fall into two distinct categories: living trusts and testamentary trusts. A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, is one that is funded during the lifetime of the grantor and is fully revocable — this means that it can be changed or modified at any time. A testamentary trust is created by the grantor’s will and is funded at the time of their death. Importantly, although testamentary trusts are irrevocable, they do not avoid the probate process.
Some common types of trusts that are recognized in North Carolina include:
- Annual exclusions gift trusts
- Asset protection trusts
- Charitable remainder trusts
- Education trusts
- Qualified terminable interest property trusts
- Credit shelter trusts
- NFA gun trusts
- IRA trusts
- Medicaid planning trusts
- Pet trusts
- Special needs trusts
Whether your goal is to provide for your children or spouse, your pets, a charitable organization, a family member with special needs, or protect your retirement plans, a trust can help you achieve your objectives. At The Twiford Law Firm, we work with each of our clients individually to create a customized estate plan that meets their needs.
Contact a North Carolina Estate Planning Attorney
Every person’s financial and family circumstances are unique — and no two estate plans should ever be alike. The North Carolina estate planning attorneys at The Twiford Law Firm provide a broad range of legal services to create tailored estate plans that reflect the wishes of each client. With offices in Moyock and Elizabeth City, The Twiford Law Firm provides experienced representation for estate planning and elder law issues throughout Northeastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.