Estate Planning FAQ

Are my present documents sufficient?

It depends. I will review them as a courtesy. If I think they are sufficient, we will tell you so, and you will not be charged for that review. We often review wills and other documents from other states, for example. Those documents may be sufficient under North Carolina law, or they may only require modest changes. If your present documents are more than five years old, you should have them reviewed. Even though they may be legally sufficient, there may be changes that have occurred in the laws, which could benefit you and your loved ones.

Do I have to gather up a lot of information?

No. Regarding your financial resources, all you have to know is your general net worth. If it is less than one million dollars (and it is for most of us!), there is no special tax planning that you have to do, because there will be no estate taxes due. I have a short form for you to complete. It should take fifteen minutes to a half hour. You do NOT need to gather up old checks, tax returns, insurance policies, and various records. Remember: All we need to know is your general net worth, i.e. if your assets are less than one million dollars.

Do I need to plan for my estate if I don't have much?

Yes. If you do not have a will when you pass, the law writes one for you, and the one the law writes for you is not likely to be the one you would want. For example, if you do not have a valid will, and you have a spouse and children who survive you, all of your property will NOT go to your surviving spouse. Rather, it will be divided among your spouse and your children. This is not what you would want, more than likely.

I don't know a good financial planner, and I don't understand a lot of the financial information anyway. Can you help me with that?

I am not a financial planner, but I can recommend experienced planners who will help you with your financial planning.

Is it expensive?

No. I can send you a fee schedule. Prices are quoted in advance. A simple will, for a single person for example, generally costs $500 and for a married couple is $750. We also offer additional documents at an additional cost. That pricing includes all office and telephone conferences, drafts, postage, copies, reviews, revisions, the works. It is far most costly not to have a will. Finally, if you think about the durability of these documents, and that we draft them to last, the cost of a will is an excellent value proposition over the long term. 

What if another attorney did my present documents? Do I have to use that attorney again?

No. If you redo your documents, it is not necessary even to contact your former attorney. If original documents or information need to be retrieved from your former attorney, you can sign a document that will allow your new attorney to do that for you. It is not necessary for you to contact the former attorney.

What if I have not decided on who I want to be in charge of key matters, such as raising my children if my spouse and I are gone?

This should not prevent you from beginning the process. I can give you helpful suggestions to determine how to reach good conclusions on this and other important issues.

What if I need an accountant or CPA, or a knowledgeable insurance person who can review my present insurance policies and make recommendations? Can you make recommendations?

Yes. I am regularly asked to make recommendations, and I am pleased to give you a list of names.

What is the hardest part?

Getting started. Setting an initial appointment is the single most important thing you can do. The initial conference is without charge, and it can be held at a time convenient to you. While it is preferable to have both spouses at the initial session, if you are married, it is not mandatory. Remember, the most important thing is to get the process started. I can help you identify and resolve any undecided issues in a reasonable amount of time.

Will the process take long?

No. An initial conference in my office will take thirty to forty-five minutes. A short time later, I will send you a draft of your Will to review, and then we will have a conference to sign the documents, which takes about the same amount of time. So, the entire time in our offices takes an hour to an hour and a half.