Estate Planning through Marriage and Divorce
for Traditional and LGBT Families

ESTATE PLANNING

We understand the peace of mind that comes with knowing every will and estate planning document has been drawn by an experienced attorney who has taken the time to listen and understand each client’s particular needs. While North Carolina law does recognize handwritten or form wills and estate planning documents, there are many technical rules that could prevent those documents from effectively carrying out your wishes. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience carefully crafting the documents you need to ensure that you and your family will be protected, even after you are unable to provide that protection yourself.

For members of the LGBT community it is essential that wills and other estate planning documents be drawn by an experienced attorney so that other family members who may not be supportive cannot undo your wishes after your death.

NicholsonPham can help you make sure your wishes after your death are followed. The attorneys at NicholsonPham provide simple will drafting, powers of attorney and advance directives (living wills). NicholsonPham can also draft trusts, such as revocable trusts and special needs trusts, to make sure that assets and family members are protected.

Call: (919) 883-4900

Estate Planning FAQs

What things are covered under my will?

The types of assets that CAN go through probate are as follows:

  • Bank accounts that are not jointly held or payable on death
  • Tangible personal property, such as cars, jewelry, household goods, art, collectables
  • Houses and real estate that are not titled as a tenancy by the entireties
  • Digital assets, such as online accounts
  • Embryos or other genetic material that is being stored for you
What things are not covered under my will?

Certain items pass outside of the will. They are called “extra testamentary” gifts. Examples of those types of items are:

  • Retirement accounts with a named beneficiary
  • Life insurance with a named beneficiary
  • Payable on death accounts (such as a bank account)
What kinds of information will you need before you draft my will?

NicholsonPham has a questionnaire that will ask you to make certain decisions about how you want your assets divided among your beneficiaries. It is important to think about how you want your assets divided in context to other extra-testamentary gifts (like a life insurance policy). The lawyers will also ask you about other types of assets that are hard to value, but can be priceless, like genetic material that is being stored for you, your pets and/or your online accounts.

Do I have to name my family members in my will for it to be valid?

No, but there are limitations. If you are married when you die and your spouse has not otherwise signed a disclaimer (such as may be in a separation agreement), your surviving spouse will have the right to ask for a minimum of your estate’s assets. How much your spouse can ask for depends on the length of your marriage. This is called a “spousal election” and North Carolina statutes control the amount.

What if I need to amend my will?

In cases where only a small or slight change is necessary, we can amend your will by drafting a Codicil. However, if you have multiple edits or major life changes since your last will, it may be easier and cheaper to start with a new draft. When you first consult with NicholsonPham, the attorney will go through your amendments to determine which is the right route.

I’ve remarried or divorced or adopted a child since my last will was signed. How will this affect my present will?

We always recommend that folks sign a new will after major life changes such as death, remarriage, divorce, adoption or the birth of a new child. However, North Carolina law steps in to help in certain circumstances. If you have divorced your ex-spouse since your last will was executed, North Carolina will ignore the parts of your will that reference your ex-spouse. If you have married since your last will was executed, North Carolina law will give your present spouse a “spousal election” in the event of your death, even if your will doesn’t reference your wife or husband. If you have adopted a child since your will was last executed, North Carolina law automatically includes adopted children