The possible and the inevitable
(The following is a dramatization.)
Mr. Morton is getting on in years. A fairly wealthy man, he has decided to plan for two scenarios: his possible loss of the ability to make financial decisions for himself, and his certain eventual death.
His family situation could charitably be described as complicated. He is twice divorced, and still paying alimony to his second wife. He wants to make sure his estate can keep making those payments for as long as she is entitled to them. There are three children from the first marriage, none of whom get along with one another. One of them is also divorced, and his children are living with his ex-wife. Mr. Morton cares about all his grandchildren. He does not care so much about his ex-daughter-in-law.
There is also a pair of younger children from his second marriage. The younger one, Michael, is still a teenager. The older one, Roger, has a gambling problem. So Michael can’t be trusted with money yet, but might be trustworthy later. Nobody in his or her right mind would ever trust Roger with money.
Choosing an agent and writing a will
Mr. Morton’s family is none too cohesive at the best of times, and granting power of attorney to any of his children would be taken as a sign of favoritism that would probably tear it apart. So he grants financial power of attorney to his lawyer, who has represented him many times and become a personal friend. This lawyer, however, is not an expert on elder law, and he recommends that Morton find another lawyer to draw up the power of attorney.
This second lawyer also helps Mr. Morton update his will and set up trusts for his various younger children and grandchildren. One of these trusts will pay Michael in three stages, giving him a third of his money at 25, a third at 35 and the rest at 45. A different trust is set up for Roger. This one is under the management of a trustee, who will use it towards medical bills or other major non-gambling expenses, but will not allow Roger to access it directly.
Help with wills and trusts in the Charlotte area
A wills and trust attorney can help you with the process of planning your estate, no matter what stage you are at. He or she can help you make out your will in such a way as to prevent ambiguities, draw up revocable and irrevocable trusts and designate an agent with financial or health care power of attorney.
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. If you need help with wills and trusts, make an appointment today.