Providing Focused Attention Backed By Extensive Experience

Helping Clients Prepare Effective And Personalized Estate Plans

At the law firm of Lynch & Eatman, L.L.P., our Raleigh will and trust lawyers provide sophisticated estate planning services to clients in the Triangle and throughout North Carolina. We assist clients with a wide range of estate planning issues, including the following:

  • Wills and trusts: Our attorneys will listen to your concerns, evaluate your assets and help you determine how best to meet your goals. We will then prepare the documents and review them with you.
  • Living wills and powers of attorney: Incapacity planning is another essential part of the estate planning process. Our attorneys prepare financial powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and advance health care directives (living wills).
  • Estate tax planning: A significant part of our firm’s estate planning practice is helping clients minimize estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes. Given the current uncertainty around these taxes, it is important to plan for a variety of possibilities.
  • Nontraditional families: Our estate planning lawyers are frequently retained to assist nontraditional families.

Maria M. Lynch has been board-certified as an estate planning and probate law specialist by the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization. She and the other lawyers at our firm will help you craft an estate plan based on your specific needs and objectives.

Our firm also assists its estate planning clients with estate and trust administration, so you can rely on us to help your executor or trustee settle your affairs when the time comes.

Navigating Your Estate: Common Questions Answered

Estate planning can seem complex, but it empowers you to make informed decisions about your future and the well-being of your loved ones. Here, we address some of the most common questions to help guide you through this important process.

What happens if I die without a will in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the state’s intestacy laws dictate how your assets will be distributed if you pass away without a will. This can lead to unintended consequences, as the distribution may not align with your wishes. The court will appoint an administrator to oversee the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

How often should I review and update my estate plan?

Life is dynamic, and your estate plan should reflect that. We recommend reviewing your plan every 3-5 years or whenever there’s a significant life event such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or the loss of a loved one. Additionally, changes in tax laws or your overall financial picture might necessitate revisions.

What are the different types of powers of attorney?

A power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual (your “attorney-in-fact”) to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. There are two main types:

  • Financial power of attorney: This grants your attorney-in-fact the authority to manage your finances, including paying bills, investing assets and handling real estate transactions.
  • Health care power of attorney: This empowers your attorney-in-fact to make medical decisions for you if you cannot communicate your wishes. You can also include an advance directive (living will) within this document to specify your preferences for medical care in certain situations.

Including a power of attorney in your estate plan can ensure that your loved ones are able to support your wishes in challenging situations.

What considerations do blended/nontraditional families need to consider when estate planning?

Blended families with children from previous relationships, unmarried couples with children or individuals with long-term partners outside of marriage require special planning considerations. A well-crafted estate plan ensures your assets go to your intended beneficiaries, regardless of marital status. This may involve utilizing trusts or life insurance to protect the financial security of all your loved ones.

Do I need both a will and trust as part of my estate plan?

While a will is essential for distributing your assets after death, a trust offers additional benefits. A trust allows you to transfer assets during your lifetime and avoid the probate process, which can save time and money. Trusts can also be used to manage assets for beneficiaries who may not be financially responsible or to provide for a minor child until they reach a certain age. An estate planning attorney can advise you on whether a will, trust or both are best suited for your specific needs.

What are the tax implications of estate planning?

Estate planning strategies can help minimize estate taxes and maximize the inheritance your loved ones receive. There are federal and state estate tax exemptions, and trusts can be used to reduce your taxable estate further. Our experienced team can guide you through the intricacies of tax law as it applies to your estate plan.

What is a living trust, and do I need one?

A living trust is a legal document that transfers ownership of assets to a trustee (you or someone else) for the benefit of beneficiaries. There are two main types:

  • Revocable living trust: You retain control over the assets in the trust during your lifetime, and you can modify or revoke the trust at any time. This type of trust avoids probate for assets placed within it.
  • Irrevocable living trust: Assets placed in this trust are generally no longer considered part of your estate for tax purposes. However, you give up control of the assets once they are transferred to the trust.

A living trust may be beneficial if you own a complex estate, have minor children or want to avoid probate. At Lynch & Eatman, L.L.P., our lawyers will help you determine if a living trust is the right fit for you.

What assets can be included in my trust?

A variety of assets can be placed in a trust, including real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts and life insurance policies. It’s important to note that some assets, like retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries, may not require placement in a trust.

Contact An Attorney Today; Call Now

Whether you need help creating an estate plan, updating your estate plan or reviewing estate planning documents from another state to determine whether they conform to North Carolina law, we encourage you to contact us at 919-944-4655 or by email to schedule a meeting.