Wills are more complicated than they seem
Whatever stage of estate planning you are in, you will want the services of a wills and trust attorney. Making a list of your various assets and spelling out who gets what is only the first step in the process of making out your will. According to North Carolina law, you need to sign your will in the presence of two witnesses who are not named in your will. If you physically cannot sign your will, one of the witnesses can sign your name for you. They must also sign the will while you watch. If you made out your will ten or twenty years ago, it is a good idea to update it so as to reflect changes in your circumstances and the people around you.
If your will is not properly written, some of its provisions may conflict with others, placing your heirs in a difficult position in their attempts to follow through on your wishes — and by law, your will is not officially recorded until after your death. For this reason, you will want to make sure your will is as clear and unambiguous as it can possibly be made. Trying to save time and money by downloading a will form from a Web page and using that is likely to cause your heirs more trouble than it saves you.
Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. Placing an asset in an irrevocable trust moves it out of your estate, although if it produces income you may still receive it. If you do this five years or more before entering a nursing home or applying for Medicaid, you avoid an eligibility penalty. A wills and trust attorney can help you use this to distribute your assets according to your own wishes.
A revocable trust is more flexible than a will. The assets in it continue to belong to you, and if you change your mind you can revoke it. You can name whoever you like as a trustee. If you are incapacitated, the trustee you named keeps managing your assets while they remain in your name. In the event of your death, the assets in this trust are not necessarily distributed right away — they can be left with your agent for a set amount of time. Your heirs also do not have to wait for these assets to go through probate. An estate planning attorney can help you draw up a revocable trust.
Gastonia NC Wills and trust attorney
Robert C. Whitt is Gastonia attorney, servicing the areas of Mount Holly, Charlotte, Gastonia and Gaston, Mecklenburg, Lincoln Counties and surrounding communities. He focuses on wills, trusts and other aspects of elder law. If you are thinking of making out your will or establishing a trust, call his office today.