Making out a will

Estate planning in Gastonia, NC

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(The following is a dramatization.)

Shortly after the death of her husband, Mrs. Brooks decided it was time to start making out her own will. At the age of 75, she was a woman of considerable net worth. There was a large amount of cash, the stock portfolio and bonds she had shared with her late husband, and the half a dozen rental properties in downtown Charlotte she had just inherited from her husband. The time had come to sit down, list her assets, family and friends and figure out who should have what.

This turned out to be a lot harder than she thought. There was the house, the two cars, the money… everything had to be listed and portioned out. Just when she thought she was done, she remembered the condo in St. Augustine. At this point she asked her accountant, Cheryl, for help.

Cheryl was more help than she expected, pointing out a couple of financial assets that could be interpreted as being listed twice, depending on how the will was read. When Mrs. Brooks asked her to help make out the will, Cheryl had to point out that she was, well, an accountant. She could document all the assets, but there was more to making out a will than just making up a list. It required legal expertise that she simply did not possess. Mrs. Brooks would need to hire a lawyer — and not just any lawyer, but an elder law attorney.

So she did.

Advice from an estate planning attorney

Once her will was drawn up properly, her new attorney had a number of further recommendations. One of them was using some of her wealth to set up trusts for her grandchildren. Another was choosing someone to act as her agent by setting up a durable financial power of attorney. This would give that someone the ability to make legally binding financial decisions for her if she ever lost the ability to make those decisions herself.

The attorney advised her to choose whoever she trusted most as the agent, but to let a professional draw up the power of attorney for her. If it was not drawn up properly, the bank might not permit her agent to give or sell her assets. What Mrs. Brooks had learned from her experience was that estate planning was not for amateurs.

Estate planning attorney in Gastonia, NC

No matter what sort of estate planning you’re engaged in, you’ll need professional legal advice. Robert C. Whitt is a Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Gastonia, Charlotte, Mount Holly and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. He focuses on wills, trusts and other aspects of elder law, and can help you with planning your estate. Call and make an appointment today.


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