End of life planning is a task that no one wants to address, but doing so is of paramount importance if you want to maintain control of important decisions like regarding healthcare and the distribution of your estate. The relatively easy process of executing a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Healthcare Power of Attorney allow one to directive their healthcare decisions and estate proceeds.
If someone dies without a Last Will and Testament, North Carolina law dictates the distribution of all assets according to the intestate laws. By properly executing a Last Will and Testament, you are able to determine exactly how your estate should be distributed in the event of death, including many alternate scenarios if a beneficiary should predecease you. Individual items can be given, called specific bequests, or the estate as a whole can be distributed to one or a number of different persons. Charitable gifts can also be made via a Will distribution.
A Last Will and Testament can be updated as many times as the testator desires. Often a Will is amended following a divorce, marriage, or the birth of children. It is important to review this document periodically to ensure your estate plans are aligned with your current family situation.
Other estate planning documents can address your desired medical care. A Living Will is a directive that speaks for you when you are unable to communicate your wishes about important health care decisions due to illness or incapacity. You should talk to your family members, friends, and others you trust about your healthcare choices. Also, it is a good idea to talk with professionals such as your doctors, clergypersons, and lawyers before you complete and sign a Living Will. A similar document is a Health Care Power of Attorney, which appoints a specific person to make health care decisions for you when you cannot make or communicate those decisions. A Health Care Power of Attorney can give that person large discretion or can limit their decision-making power in accordance with your Living Will.
If you have questions about estate planning and how to take control of these important life decisions, please contact us today at (704) 810-1400 to schedule a consultation.