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Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is exclusively for the wealthy, but nothing could be more inaccurate. When someone passes away, they leave an estate that must be distributed and attended to by their family or loved ones. Estate planning helps you plan for these eventualities and can provide comfort and clarity to a family grieving the loss of a loved one.
At De Nittis Law, we understand that estate planning can seem like an anxiety-inducing and overwhelming process. Our Charlotte estate planning lawyer is prepared to identify and implement the tools you need to protect your loved ones and interests. We guide you through each step of the estate planning process and provide you with sophisticated services at competitive rates.
Our Approach to Estate Planning in North Carolina
Your estate encapsulates everything you own or are responsible for at the time of your death, including your assets, debts, real estate, and minor dependents. Contrary to the popular belief, there is no minimum net worth that calls for an estate plan, and every adult should have one. An effective estate plan will protect your dependents and loved ones once you are gone. An estate plan can also protect you and your assets throughout your lifetime.
When building an estate plan, one of our primary goals is to provide you with peace of mind. The right plan will bring clarity and calm anxieties during many of life's most challenging events.
Our comprehensive approach to estate planning works to incorporate many types of tools in addition to your last will and testament. We will review your unique circumstances and advise what instruments can help you prepare for a variety of possible scenarios.
For certain clients with large estates, it is appropriate to develop more advanced plans. We work closely with our network of financial planners and accountants to develop estate plans that carefully consider each client's attitude toward charitable giving and wealth preservation. We will also always be mindful of state and federal tax implications.
Why is Estate Planning Important?
Having a well-prepared estate plan is the number one tool in your kit to protect the ones and items you love once you pass away. It is a misconception that only those with large mansions or lots of antiques and art pieces require an estate plan. If you have assets you would leave behind if you passed away today and loved ones you'd want them to go to, you can benefit from an estate plan.
Your estate includes everything that you own. This could include any of the following that belongs to you:
- Home or other properties
- Bank accounts
- Life insurance
- Personal possessions
If you don't set up designations for these items while you are alive and able to do so, probate courts and the state will make the decisions for you.
Continue scrolling below to learn more about our the estate planning services we offer.
How Can We Help You?
Our Charlotte Estate Planning Attorney Can Assist You With:
- Wills. Your last will and testament enables you to name beneficiaries to inherit your assets, a guardian to your minor children, and an executor to oversee the probate process.
- Revocable Trusts. We often recommend revocable living trusts, which can be modified or canceled throughout your lifetime. This powerful estate planning tool allows you to distribute assets to your heirs and beneficiaries, but have the advantage of shielding assets held in trust from probate and can generally allow for distributions of assets to be done immediately upon your death.
- Healthcare Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives. By appointing a healthcare power of attorney, you authorize a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf and serve as your advocate when you become incapacitated and unable to communicate. You can also implement advance directives that specify your instructions for preferred medical care.
- HIPAA Waiver Forms. Completing this form allows your doctor to provide crucial medical records to your designated healthcare power of attorney and other third parties as you direct.
- Financial Powers of Attorney. You can also appoint a trusted agent to manage your financial affairs within a scope that you define. You may wish to only have someone pay your bills when you are unable to do so yourself, or you may choose to authorize someone to sign documents or manage investments on your behalf.
- Premarital Agreements. These types of agreements can be used to proactively define property and spousal support rights in the event that a marriage ends.
- Minor's Trusts. This type of trust holds money and/or assets on behalf of a minor until they come of age. They can also be used to protect beneficiaries from careless spending once you are gone.
- Guardianships. Guardianships become necessary when a minor child's biological or adoptive parents are deceased or unfit. A guardian acts as the child's caregiver and has legal authority over their person and sometimes their estate. You may wish to name a preferred guardian to your minor child (or any other dependents) in your will.
- Income Tax Planning. We can leverage financial planning tools to protect your income from excessive taxes at the state and federal levels.
- Estate Tax Planning. High-net-worth estates can be subject to federal estate taxes. Thoughtful estate planning, including the implementation of certain types of trusts, can protect your assets from this type of tax liability.
- Gift Tax Planning. Strategic gift-giving can help you minimize the impact of certain types of taxes.
- Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Planning. Careful structuring of an estate plan is required if you are planning on “skipping” a generation of beneficiaries when distributing assets, otherwise you may incur an additional federal tax on such transfers.
- Asset and Liability Protection. Trusts and other estate planning tools can be strategically used to protect assets from creditor claims, probate, and estate taxes.
Your Estate Planning Checklist
The documents you will need to build your particular estate plan will depend on your circumstances and the scope of your estate. Your estate planning attorney can help determine what documents apply to your situation. Regardless of the differences in each case, you can expect to need the following:
- Last Will and Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- HIPAA release form
Estate planning is not a cookie-cutter matter and won't be treated like one with the attorney from De Nittis Law. We can help you craft an estate plan that meets your goals and your family's needs.
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