Welcome to the Maxwell, Freeman & Bowman,
P.A. Estate Planning and Estate and Trust Administration page. Some of
the typical documents our lawyers prepare to meet our clients’ needs are
Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney for Assets, Medical Powers of
Attorney and other probate, estate planning and wills and trust related
documents. Since 1975 we have been helping clients protect their assets
and preserve their wealth.
A Last Will and Testament is an
instrument by which a person makes a disposition or gift of his or her
property to another person or persons. The gifts do not take effect
until the death of the testator (the person making the Will). To be
valid, the Will must meet the requirements and formalities of state
law. The attorneys of Maxwell, Freeman & Bowman, P. A. are
knowledgeable about all aspects of drafting Wills under North Carolina
law, and will help ensure that your assets reach your intended
beneficiaries after your death.
If you die intestate (without making a
Will), you do not get to choose who will receive your probate assets.
The state decides for you, and each state’s laws are different. In
North Carolina, if you die intestate, the persons who inherit from you
depend upon whether you are married or single, whether you have
children, and other factors. It also may depend upon the nature of your
property. A Will allows your last wishes to be honored and gives you
peace of mind.
If your estate planning needs cannot be
met by simply drafting a Will, the attorneys of Maxwell, Freeman &
Bowman, P. A. will create a more sophisticated plan to meet your needs.
Although Wills are the most familiar document in estate planning, there
are many other ways to reduce or eliminate estate taxes and designate
beneficiaries. For example, trusts have the advantage of enabling you
to establish control of your estate while you are competent, and having
the trustee manage the estate should you become incapacitated. In
addition to providing for survivors, our firm can help in situations
where a Will is contested and there are family disputes.
Another way to keep
you in charge of your own destiny is the Durable Power of Attorney,
which eliminates the need for conservatorship or guardianship
proceedings in a court of law should you ever become incapacitated and
are unable to manage your own decisions. With a Durable Power of
Attorney, you, not the judge, will determine who has the legal authority
to act for you should the time ever come when you cannot make decisions
for yourself. If and when that time comes, the person you have
appointed will take over your affairs and act within the guidelines and
restrictions you have already established. The person you’ve chosen to
act on your behalf is called your attorney in fact, and could be your
spouse or another responsible member of your family or a friend. The
attorney in fact can pay bills, deposit checks, handle taxes, sell
stocks, invest in securities - in short, everything that you would
otherwise do for yourself.
Unless you expect to owe federal estate
tax at your death or your spouse’s, a basic living trust to avoid
probate may be all the trust you need. It allows property to avoid
probate and to quickly and efficiently pass to the beneficiaries you
name, without the hassles and expense of probate court proceedings. To
create a basic living trust, you and your attorney would create a
document called a Declaration of Trust, which is similar to a Will. You
name yourself as trustee – the person in charge of the trust property.
Then you transfer ownership of some or all of your property to yourself
in your capacity as trustee. If you and your spouse create a trust
together, you will be co-trustees. As trustee you do not give up any
control over the property you put in trust.
Maxwell, Freeman & Bowman, P. A. has
successfully advised on all aspects of estate planning for more than 30
years. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at (919) 493-6464.