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The Plain English Attorney

Last Wills and Testaments

Families are not as well protected as they think. Many people have assumptions about what happens to property when a husband or wife dies, but many times they are wrong.

Everything does not automatically go to a spouse

In North Carolina, a “typical” family unit may mean a mother, father, and two children. If the father passes on leaving no Will, his wife will receive the first $15,000 of personal property (all property not considered land or buildings attached to land), a third of the rest, and a third of all real property (land and buildings). Children receive their inheritance at age 18, regardless of maturity, and can spend it all on an expensive sports car if they wish. The children can also force the family home to be sold, and the wife may end up moving into an apartment… All because the husband didn’t write out a Will.

Your Burial Plans are Left to the Whims of Relatives

Whenever a person passes on without leaving specific burial instructions, their relatives decide how the service should be conducted, what type of burial is to be performed, and how much money will be spent on the funeral process. Grief-stricken families may be talked into needless services and “extras” by unscrupulous funeral home directors or, as is more often the case, their own desire to give “only the best” to their deceased loved one. A person who may have wanted a $1,500 cremation while wearing a t-shirt and jeans and a simple service may end up with a $18,000 burial in an expensive casket while wearing a tuxedo. All because they didn’t bother to write down their wishes beforehand.

Wishes for Custody of Minor Children are Unheard

Anyone who has a minor child could be setting them up for a childhood of hardship and sadness if they don’t properly select guardians and name them in a Will. If something does happen to you and your spouse, do you know who will take care of your children? A court will end up making the final decision, but an unfit brother that would be the last person you want to raise your children may be favored over the lifelong friends you trust implicitly. A court will not consider what you may have wanted had you bothered to write it down, but it will instead use its own judgment, morals, and preferences to arrive at its own conclusion.

If you care for your children and are at all concerned about who would raise them if you weren’t there, then you must have it in a Will. You will have no say unless you write your wishes down. Your children are worth the time and money it will take for you to write your wishes down in a legally executed Last Will and Testament. There are many reasons to create a Will or Revocable Living Trust, and the few pages of this website are not sufficient to go through all of them. The bottom line is that your family is worth the time and investment it takes to create an estate plan.

If you have any additional questions or would like for our firm to assist you with a Last Will and Testament and other estate planning needs, then please contact our office at (919) 844-7993.

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