FAQ for Charlotte Families Without an Estate Plan

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our estate planning lawyers work with clients to help create effective and thorough estate plans. Whatever stage of life you are in, whether you are single and just starting in life, a parent of a minor child, or nearing retirement age, you will benefit from an estate plan. Estate planning involves creating a will or trust, creating a power of attorney, and long-term nursing home care planning. An effective estate plan can help you protect your assets, ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes and protecting your ability to make your own medical decisions should you become incapacitated. Many busy families have not yet taken the time to create an estate plan. Below, we have listed some important questions for North Carolina residents without an estate plan.

Who Decides Medical Issues?

Many people assume that an estate plan only involves creating a will. However, many other types of estate planning documents are incredibly important, including those involving medical decision making. What happens if you become incapacitated and are unable to express your own medical decisions? In North Carolina, your family members would be able to decide if they agree. However, if your family members cannot agree on your medical treatment options, they would need to ask a court to appoint a guardian for you to make the decision.

This stressful process can be avoided by creating a durable medical power of attorney. In this legal document, you will appoint someone you trust to act as your power of attorney or decision-maker when it comes to medical decisions. Your power of attorney will not be able to make medical decisions on your behalf unless a doctor declares you to be incapacitated. Taking the time to plan for medical issues that could arise in the future can be challenging, but it is well worth it. When you state which types of treatment you would like in an advance health care directive, and when you appoint a healthcare power of attorney, you will take the pressure off of your family members trying to make decisions in an extremely stressful situation.

How do I Ensure I can Pay My Bills Without an Estate Plan?

Throughout our years of practice as lawyers, we have seen families struggle to help their loved ones who become incapacitated. In many cases, someone becomes incapacitated unexpectedly and they do not have their affairs in order. They may need to pay their mortgage, pay off their car, and pay other bills, but their family members do not have access to their bank accounts or the legal authority to make payments on their loved one's behalf. By completing a durable power of attorney, you can appoint someone to act as your agent. Your agent will be able to access your accounts to pay bills for you, speak with lawyers on your behalf, and engage in all of your personal matters. Appointing a durable power of attorney will also allow your family to be able to help you quickly. Without a valid power of attorney, they would need to seek a guardianship appointment from the court, which can take time and is costly. When you have a durable power of attorney in place, your appointee needs only show the paperwork to perform necessary tasks, such as paying your bills.

What Happens to My Retirement Investments Should I Become Disabled?

Many Americans spend years planning for retirement and trying to save enough money to live throughout their retirement comfortably. If you become incapacitated, you may wonder about what will happen to your Investments. When you appoint a durable power of attorney, your power of attorney will manage your Investments. Another option is to create a trust and appoint trustees who will manage the assets in the trust on behalf of the beneficiaries. Trustees owe the beneficiaries a fiduciary duty, meaning they must manage the trust competently, so it thrives. With a properly executed durable power of attorney or trust, then you can ensure that your investments and retirement accounts are utilized according to your wishes should you become disabled or otherwise incapacitated.

Contact Our Estate Planning Lawyers Today

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we have seen the devastating scenarios resulting from families not creating an estate plan. One of the key benefits of creating an estate plan is ensuring that your family will know how to help you should you be incapacitated and that your assets will be protected. The sooner you speak with an estate planning lawyer, the better. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with our Charlotte, Mooresville, or Monroe attorneys.