By Karen S Snyder

Independent LegalShield Associate

Sure, you can Google your legal questions.  But Google doesn’t have a law degree!  Every State has different laws.  How do you handle property located in another state?  Who will settle your estate if you have an untimely death?  What happens if you die without a Will?  Have you named someone you trust to be an Executor of your Will?  Is the Last Will and Testament different from a Living Will?  How do we choose an Executor of our Will?  Who is your Health Care Power of Attorney? Why do you need one?

You can ask Google these questions.  But doing your own Will could be like doing your own brain surgery, not a good idea!  North Carolina, like many other States, is a Probate State.  What does that mean.  Do you understand all of the legal vocabulary?   

A Will does go through Probate but only after you die.  Before that time, one may cancel, change, revoke a Will any time while one is competent.  A new Will supersedes your old one, thus the LAST WILL and TESTAMENT.   

What happens if you die without a Will?  Most people do not want the courts or government to interfere with the distribution of their estate.  In order to achieve the distribution the way you want after your death, you need to state it in a Will.  Your assets will pass partly to your spouse, (if you are married), and the remainder to your children. It may be your intention for your estate to pass to your children but what if they are too young to handle the finances themselves?  At age 18 they will receive their share but if you want them to be older when they receive their share, you must so state in your Will. Poor money management skills, creditor problems, spouse problems or other factors can make your passing without a Will, a nightmare for your loved ones.   There are tax consequences that must be considered.  This is another good reason to consult an attorney when writing your Will.

Another important document is for choosing the one who will make health decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions. The healthcare power of attorney and your living will.  How much life support do you want?  What if it’s your teenage child who is in the hospital and hasn’t designated a parent or someone to make those decisions? We want to think that nothing bad is ever going to happen and often this is true.  But, isn’t it better to be proactive and prepare for life events before they happen? After a tragedy is not the time to plan!

Some people think their family already knows what to do and what you want done.  People and Memories change.  What you think your family understands may unravel after your death. But even if they do know, by law your oral instructions are not effective to pass title to your assets.  Surprisingly, even putting your instructions in writing may not be effective to transfer those assets unless the documents are properly prepared.  Even if your family does understand and is willing to follow your wishes, your actions can cause tax consequences for them.  Here is an example given by an attorney; A client died with a will leaving everything to her brother.  In reality, she had a brother and a sister, although she and her sister had feuded for years.  Shortly before her death she told her brother to split the entire estate with her sister.  At death, after the probate was completed, leaving everything to the brother, he wrote a check to his living sister for $400,000 to follow his deceased sister’s wishes. The $400,000 gift caused a $100,000 tax bill.  There are many examples of what can happen when you have good intentions but may be ignorant of the law.  Ignorance of the Law is not a SIN, but it is EXPENSIVE.

Maybe you have a Trust, maybe an IRA and a list of beneficiaries for it.  Often, people want to know how will the Trust affect the IRA…most of the time there is no effect.  You cannot make your Trust the owner of your IRA. It’s important to know the law and know how to put everything in place the right way.

I hear people say they have nothing so it doesn’t matter what happens when they die.  Everyone has something if they are working or receiving retirement benefits.  They might own a car, a house or household collections, bank accounts, and credit cards.  Everything has to have somewhere to go.  When you have an opportunity to designate gifts to family members or others you love, why not do it?

This is important for unmarried young people and for unmarried people with children.  You would never want your children to become wards of the State.  Put in writing who should be responsible for your children if you’re not alive to care for them.  This is your last love letter to your family.  Let them know you were thinking of them!  Reviewing it all with an attorney can make life easier for those who are left behind to deal with your affairs.   

The cost of a membership is less than $300 a year. Having all your Will documents for the family done for you in a legally correct way, will be $2000 to $2500 plus any updates required later.  The membership does more than Estate Planning, so it has great value in resources that can be accessed as many times as desired.  From the Trivial to the Traumatic, there is legal guidance at your fingertips.

LegalShield makes it all easier!!  In 6 easy steps:

  1. 1. Purchase a LegalShield Membership.  It’s a monthly membership. The membership puts a dedicated law firm on retainer and available for you at all times.
  2. 2. Download the Free app that comes with your membership. It includes legal forms and much more.
  3. 3. Complete the Will Questionnaire on your new LegalShield phone app.
  4. 4. From your phone, upload the Will Questionnaire to the Law Firm.
  5. 5. The estate planning attorney will call you very soon and review your questionnaire with you.
  6. 6. The documents will be processed, including your Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney, and your Durable Power of Attorney.  All will be sent to you with instructions on having the documents notarized.

It’s all done and within a week, what you have put off for years, is completed.  When there are changes you want to make to the Will, an update can be done every year at no cost. It’s included with your membership as long as you keep it in force.  There are many other legal services included with the membership.  It is not only for your Estate Planning.  It is for Everyday Living, Growing, Learning and Knowing your Rights in all situations.

If I can be of service to you and your family or friends, please call me:

Karen S Snyder

Independent LegalShield Associate

919 333 9137

Information Note : LegalShield Associates, Karen Snyder and Ruth Anderson, are supporting the NC Association for Public Charter School’s advocacy efforts by giving back a part of the commission earned on any business or any businesses referred by or connected with the NC Public Charter Schools.

The amount we give back is guaranteed for three years.  Those who see value in the services we offer and our representation can refer business to us and we will donate a percentage of our commission to the Advocacy.  This is a win for everyone.  We appreciate the NC Public Charter Schools and what they do for our educational programs. This is our way of additional support.

The amount we give back is guaranteed for three years. Those who see value in the services we offer and our representation can refer business to us and we will donate a percentage of our commission to the Association. This is a win for everyone. We appreciate the NC Association for Public Charter Schools and what they do for our educational programs. This is our way of additional support.