It is painful to think of those you love facing the future without you. A powerful way to show you care is to decide what important steps you can take to protect your loved ones when you can no longer be with them.

Start Protecting Those You Love

  • Establishing an estate plan is a good place to start. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it also provides clear instructions regarding your medical, family care, and financial wishes should you become incapacitated. It can spare your loved ones from the expense, delay and confusion associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.

Your Estate Plan Should Change With You

  • Many clients spend a lifetime amassing funds and assets and don’t concern themselves with planning the management of those assets until retirement is in sight. However, estate planning is a lifelong task for responsible families that is unique to each individual and influenced by the entire family’s evolving needs – through each home purchase, new family member, adoption, educational endeavor, or other significant life event. Every life change that affects your family’s structure, balance sheet, or future needs should be integrated into a dynamic, holistic estate plan.
  1. Estate Planning Basics
    1. The most basic of estate plans should include each of the following:
      1. Last Will and Testament.  A Will is designed to ensure that the estate you’ve worked so hard to build stays in the hands of those you’ve loved and designated to enjoy it, rather than being chipped away by taxes or family litigation. A Will should also address guardianship and future care of any minor children.
      2. Durable Power of Attorney (POA).  A Durable POA names a person as your “attorney-in-fact”. This person is given the authority to act in your best interests in the event that you become incapacitated. Again, it can’t be overstated that this is something that isn’t age-specific. A durable power of attorney can prevent unnecessary pain or conflict in your family, which is something you’re interested in, regardless of your age.
      3. Living Will.  A Living Will allows your doctors, family, and health care providers to make decisions on your continued medical treatment. Your Living Will is only effective when you are mentally and physically incapacitated and your doctor and another doctor determine to a reasonable degree of medical probability that additional medical treatment will only prolong the process of dying.
      4. Designation of Health Care Surrogate.  This document allows you to designate someone to make general medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot speak for yourself regarding situations not addressed by your Living Will.
      5. HIPPA Release.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) has been interpreted as requiring a covered entity (generally, health care clearinghouses, employer sponsored health plans, health insurers, and medical service providers) to have a signed disclosure before giving out any information on provided health care to anyone, including parents and spouses. A HIPAA release in conjunction with a Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows your agents access to your medical records so they may make proper decisions.
    2. Trusts. Trusts are complex legal and financial instruments, generally used to protect assets, minimize tax burdens, and keep your estate out of probate (which can delay your family’s access to funds). Trusts are, essentially, documents that establish who is responsible for disbursement of your funds and how you’d like them managed. Trusts are commonly set aside for spouses, children, other family members, and charitable organizations; however, after speaking with you our quality elder law attorneys can establish a trust tailored to meet your specific needs.

Don’t Settle For One-Size-Fits-All

Each issue that falls under the umbrella of estate planning is rife with complexity, but solutions can be customized to fit your unique story with a small investment of time and effort. Take the time now to work with Peterkin Law Firm, PLLC. to ensure your story gets written the way you’ve dreamed it. Don’t leave something this important to chance, other people, or North Carolina’s one-size-fits-all probate code.

You want a plan to protect your loved ones. We want to help.
To schedule an appointment about estate planning contact us page here.