What Is a Will, and Do You Need One?
A Last Will and Testament, or simply a “Will”, is a legal document that allows you to decide who gets your property when you pass away, and is often an important document included in an estate plan. When you meet with us, we have an in-depth conversation about how you want your property distributed upon your passing. This information helps us provide you guidance on whether a will is the correct legal document to ensure that your wishes are followed. Without a will or trust in place when you die, the state distributes your property under the North Carolina Intestate Succession law. Wills and trusts exist, since most people would rather maintain control over where their assets get distributed, than allow the State to decide.
What Should I Bring To My Meeting With My Estate Planning Attorney?
If you have any of the following documents, please bring them with you so that we can help update or create your estate plan:
Previous Estate plan documents. For example: Will, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, Stand-by Guardship
Financial Documents. For example: statements that show the beneficiaries of investment accounts such as 401K, IRA, Mutual Fund, Brokerage Accounts, Pensions
Insurance Policies. For example: statements that show the beneficiaries of life insurance policies
Custody Guardianship & Adoption Court Filings. For example: copies of court documents for adoption, custody, guardianship
Medical Records. For example: doctor’s reports regarding signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia for the person seeking to have estate planning documents drafted
When Should I Update My Will?
You sit down with your estate planning attorney at least every three years to review your will and other estate planning documents to see if your estate plan needs to be updated. The following are a few important reasons why someone would want to change their Will:
- Changing your mind about who should inherit your property
- Marriage, death, or birth
- Divorce or separation affecting you or someone named in your Will
- Moving to North Carolina from out of state
- The named executor is now unable or unwilling to serve
- Newly diagnosed serious illness (you or your loved one)
Safekeeping Your Will
Although you can store your will nearly anywhere, the best place to store your will is somewhere where it can be readily found by your heirs, and that it will not be damaged.
- Deposit your will for safekeeping at your county courthouse
- Store your will in a safe deposit box at your local bank
- Store your will among your important papers in your home, or in a fireproof box at your home
- Store your original Will with your attorney in their Will safe
There are pros and cons when determining where to store your will, all of which can be discussed with one of our estate planning attorneys.