For members of the LGBT community it is essential that wills and other estate planning documents be drawn by an experienced attorney who understands how to protect relationships not recognized by North Carolina law. While North Carolina law does recognize handwritten or form wills and estate planning documents, North Carolina also has a history of protecting traditional family relationships. So, if your will directs that things be done in a manner the state thinks is unconventional, it may be vulnerable to challenges from family members or others. You can avoid this uncertainty by having a lawyer draft your will and other estate related documents. Our firm is experienced in preparing documents that ensure you and your loved ones will be protected when you are no longer able to provide that protection yourself.
Wills and Trusts
North Carolina law says that if an individual dies without a will, his or her property will be distributed along traditional family lines, or, if no traditional relatives exist, the property reverts to the state. A valid will can:
- Let you decide who gets your property after you die.
- Direct what you want done with your body, and who will be in charge of funeral arrangements.
- Appoint a guardian for your children.
- Direct who distributes your property.
General Powers of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney allows your partner, children or another trusted person to have access to and authority over your resources when you are incapacitated.
Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate who will make decisions about your health needs when you are unable to make those decisions yourself. It also ensures that your partner will be able to be with you when a hospital or other institutional situation limits admission to “Family Only.” If you don’t have a Health Care Power of Attorney, your partner can be prohibited from being near you when you need him or her the most. Living Wills allow you to establish now whether you would or would not want artificial means used to preserve your life in the event you became incapacitated.
Tax laws are usually not written with gay and lesbian couples and families in mind. Our professional estate planning attorneys can review how you currently on your property, advise you on the latest changes in inheritance tax laws and help you develop a plan that will protect your property and minimize tax burdens.
While some estates can be administered with a minimal amount of time and effort, larger estates can be quite complex requiring a year or more to settle and involving significant asset investigation and a multitude of letters to creditors and court documents to file. An attorney can help you identify means of simplifying the probate process and assist you with satisfying the requirements to successfully navigate the probate process before the Clerk of Court.
Incompetency and Guardianship
Sometimes our loved ones need special care and guidance from a family member or friend to manage their daily affairs. In those circumstances when a guardianship is necessary, our attorneys can guide you through the required court procedures with a gentle understanding of the sensitive issues that surround a determination of incompetency and selection of an appropriate guardian.