Who will inherit your assets if you die without a will? Without an estate plan, your assets will pass to heirs the laws of North Carolina dictate. With an estate plan, you decide who gets your assets, when, and how they receive them. Plus, you avoid the expense of lawyers and the government for having to sort out the mess of not having an estate plan.
Who will raise your minor children if you die? Without a plan, a court will make the determination. With a plan, you are able to appoint a guardian of your choice, and save the costly expense of guardianship and/or child custody proceedings.
What if you become incompetent and unable to manage your own affairs? Without an estate plan, your family may be forced to file a lawsuit against you. With a plan, you select the person to manage your affairs and your family avoids court costs, legal fees, and emotional stress.
Contempt of court refers to actions that challenge a court’s authority, cast disrespect on a court, or impede the ability of the court to perform its function. Contempt takes two forms: civil contempt and criminal contempt.
The most common form of civil contempt happens when someone fails to adhere to an order from the court, resulting in a violation of the rights of a private party. Usually, the injured party is the one to file an action for civil contempt. For example, failing to pay court ordered child support may lead to punishment for civil contempt. The injured party in this scenario would be the parent who has not yet received the court ordered child support payments.
Civil contempt sanctions are commonly used to coerce such a person into complying with a court order the person has violated. Unlike criminal contempt, which aims to punish the act, civil contempt has one of two goals. The first goal of civil contempt is to reinstate the rights of the party who was wronged by the failure to fulfill the court’s order. The second is to simply move an underlying proceeding along. When either of these goals is met, civil contempt sanctions typically end.
Criminal contempt charges, on the other hand, are punitive. This means that they serve to deter future acts of contempt by punishing the wrongdoer. An individual that has been incarcerated for criminal contempt cannot secure their own release by deciding to comply with the court; however, they are given the same constitutional rights guaranteed to criminal defendants.
Criminal contempt charges become separate charges from the underlying proceeding. Unlike civil contempt sanctions, criminal contempt charges have the potential to continue after the underlying case has been resolved. Criminal contempt charges may occur directly or indirectly. In order for one to occur directly, the act must take place in the presence of the court. In order for one to occur indirectly, the act must take place outside the presence of the court.
When you create an estate plan, you need the assistance of professionals from several fields. Primarily, you need to meet with the following:
- An estate planning attorney who can help you design and create your will and/or trust. Not only will this professional create your estate plan, they will ensure that your plan meets both federal and state law requirements.
- A tax planning professional that can assist you in minimizing the amount of income taxes that your beneficiaries would be obligated to pay on the income and assets they inherit.
- A financial advisor that can assist you in designing a suitable investment portfolio for your assets. Your financial advisor should be knowledgeable about estate planning needs and the laws concerning retirement accounts.
When you work with a team, a team who routinely communicates with each other per your direction, you maximize your opportunity for your assets to grow with minimal impact to yourself and your beneficiaries. If you are unsure as to whether your estate is large enough to consider the services of an estate planning team, arrange complimentary consultations with professionals to determine whether their services are necessary.
Filing for bankruptcy in order to avoid alimony is not always the best idea. An obligation to pay spousal support, also considered a domestic support obligation, is almost always not dischargeable. The general rule is that a debt for spousal support, or alimony, cannot be cancelled or forgiven.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is spousal support after a divorce ends a marriage. The support provided through alimony, from one former spouse to the other, is usually temporary. Alimony is often arranged when a marriage involved one spouse making majority or all of the income, while the other spouse took care of the home. The “stay at home” spouse is often the recipient of alimony in a divorce.
Changing Alimony During Bankruptcy
Getting alimony payments adjusted or discharged through bankruptcy is often a daunting undertaking. The supporting spouse should list the supported spouse as a creditor. While it is difficult for alimony to be discharged, there are still a few ways alimony can be changed. If the alimony and the supported spouse are not listed on the bankruptcy petition, alimony discharge becomes nearly impossible. Debt that is not listed in a bankruptcy petition cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court.
Although alimony cannot usually be discharged in bankruptcy, there are two exceptions to this rule.
The first instance that alimony can be discharged in bankruptcy is when the payment of debt is falsely named as being alimony. If a divorce decree states that an obligation to a spouse is alimony, but the obligation is not actually alimony, then the obligation has the potential to be discharged in bankruptcy.
The second instance that alimony could be discharged is if the obligation of debt has been turned over to a third party. For example, two people get divorced and one is obligated to pay the other a certain amount per month. The person in charge of making the payments stop, therefore, the individual relying on those payments must get them from a third party. That third party now owns the right to collect the alimony from the original spouse in charge of the payments. If the spouse in charge of paying alimony files bankruptcy, the alimony obligation can be discharged to the extent it has been legally transferred to the third party.
Bankruptcy can have a huge impact on one’s ability to pay alimony. A major factor the court utilizes in order to determine spousal support payments is the supporting spouse’s ability to pay – considering their earning capacity, actual income, assets, and standard of living.
A living trust, sometimes call a revocable trust, is a written legal document through which your assets are placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime.
Why Do I Want This?
In the State of North Carolina, a living trust is a great estate planning tool that allows you to have your assets owned by your trust during your lifetime and distributed after your death, or while you are still living. This type of trust is very flexible and provides you with the capability to make changes as you choose. A living trust will keep your assets from having to go through probate. Probate is the court process in which a will is verified and carried out. This process can take months to accomplish and cost copious amounts of fees. Also, having the ability to bypass probate means that your assets can be distributed immediately after your death, rather than after the entire probate process.
How Does It Work?
In order to create a living trust in North Carolina, you must complete the trust document and sign it in front of a notary. After completing the trust document, you must then transfer ownership of your assets into the trust for it to be affective. You, the grantor, will be the one in charge of setting up your living trust. When you establish such a trust, your assets will be owned in the name of the trust. In order to gain as much benefit from this trust as possible, it is advised to transfer all of the assets you can into the trust. This trust will be managed during your lifetime by the trustee. More often than not, that trustee is you. Along with the initial trustee, you must name a successor trustee to take over the trust after your passing. The successor trustee will then be in charge of continuing to manage your assets, as well as distributing them to your beneficiaries according to the terms you specified.
Constructing a last will and testament is an integral part in planning the distribution of an individual’s estate after their death. In the State of North Carolina, wills give the testator (the person writing the will) the chance to make sure that their spouse, children, other family members, and even pets are taken care of after they die. While embarking on the process of constructing a will, it is crucial that a testator knows and understands the laws associated with wills in their state. Otherwise, the chances of their will being invalid increase. An estate planning attorney is an invaluable tool in the process of constructing a will because they can use their advice and experience to ensure that a will is valid. This article will explore, North Carolina laws regarding wills, the effects of dying with a will and dying intestate, and the different types of wills in North Carolina.
North Carolina Laws Regarding Wills
Every state has its own specific statues when it comes to wills. A will that fails to adhere to North Carolina’s statues are generally considered to be void, making the state dispose of the testator’s property according to the rules of inheritance. This gives the property to the testator’s most immediate kin regardless of the testator’s wishes. For this reason, it is ill advised to simply assume that a will is valid, an attorney can assist an individual in the process of ensuring that their will adheres to North Carolina’s standards. Below are list of laws regarding North Carolina wills:
Effects of Dying with a Will vs Dying Instate
The most important purpose a testator can use a will for is to express how assets such as homes, vehicles, business holdings, and bank accounts should be divided upon the testator’s death. A North Carolina will and testament can also allow an individual to name someone as the legal guardian of their children. In addition to testamentary trust (trust that provides a benefit for people), North Carolina law specifically allows for the creation of trust for the care of animals that are alive during the testator’s lifetime (referred to as pet trust). Such a trust terminates upon the death of the last surviving animal covered by the trust.
A person who dies without a will is called intestate, which will invoke the laws of intestacy. In this state, the shares in real and personal property that go to a surviving spouse also depend on whether or not there are also surviving children or parents. If there are no surviving children or living spouse, then intestacy laws grant shares of the decedent’s closets relative.
Types of Wills in North Carolina
Listed below are a list of wills that are recognized in North Carolina: