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Salisbury North Carolina Legal Blog

Stan Lee is the subject of ongoing estate litigation

Many people in North Carolina and nationwide are great fans of Stan Lee, the mind behind Marvel Comics and the blockbuster Marvel superhero movies. Therefore, they may be saddened to hear that Lee is the subject of three legal filings claiming he has been defrauded and abused. Lee, age 95, is experiencing trouble with his memory and his vision is so poor that he can no longer read or operate a motor vehicle. After the death of his wife, several people have been caring for Lee but, according to some, their motives are questionable.

First, Lee executed a power of attorney naming a man who used to be his publicist to make financial decisions on his behalf. However, his publicist had Lee sell and relinquish all rights to his name and likeness. A lawsuit was subsequently filed stating Lee would never have meant to do that and the publicist had committed fraud. Other lawsuits against the publicist claim he stole thousands of dollars from Lee under the guise that they were gifts.

Yes, you can provide for a pet in your North Carolina estate plan

For some people, pets are a valued addition to a life without children. For others, a dog, cat or other pet is a critical companion later in life when your children have grown up and moved on. Regardless of how many assets you possess or what other heirs you are providing for in your will, you probably want to make sure that someone takes care of your beloved pet.

The thought of your companion animal ending up surrendered to a shelter or euthanized because no one would care for it is heartbreaking. Thankfully, North Carolina law actively provides an option for you to take care of your pet when you die. That is just one more reason why it's important to take the time to create an estate plan now.

Avoid these common pitfalls when estate planning

When it comes to drafting an estate plan, it is important to be thorough and explicit. The wrong language could result in a situation where certain people are inheriting (or not inheriting) certain assets that may not be what the deceased actually wanted. Moreover, mistakes made early on in an estate plan could wind up significantly reducing the size of one's estate upon their death. The following are some common pitfalls people in North Carolina will want to avoid when estate planning.

First, while a person may have already designated a primary beneficiary on certain assets such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, they should not let the matter rest there. They should also name a contingent beneficiary should the primary beneficiary die before the account holder dies. In addition, review beneficiaries periodically. After all, if one divorces, they may not want their ex named as a beneficiary to these valuable assets.

North Carolina couple wins suit against Smithfield Foods

There are upsides and downsides to living in rural, agricultural areas. Some people enjoy being able to own acres of land and the privacy that such ownership entails. They also may enjoy being removed from the hustle and bustle of a large city. However, those who live in rural, agricultural areas may find that their neighbors are farmers. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if the farmer's practices negatively affect those who live near them, it could lead to a lawsuit.

According to a news report, a North Carolina couple was awarded over $25 million following a nuisance lawsuit against the major hog farming operation, Smithfield Foods. In the lawsuit, the couple claimed they were subjected to swarms of flies, noisy trucks and bad smells emanating from the hog farm operation near their home. The lawsuit focused on "anaerobic lagoons" in which waste is kept behind the hogs' enclosures and is then liquified and spread onto fields in the area.

Slip-and-fall accidents can happen any time in North Carolina

Slip-and-fall accidents aren't only prevalent in the icy winter months. All year-round

people in North Carolina can slip on a wet grocery store floor, trip over a piece of worn carpeting in a hotel or encounter a cracked sidewalk. Slip-and-fall accidents can cause serious injuries, but determining who is at fault for a slip-and-fall accident is not as clear-cut as it may seem.

Why might a person contest a will?

People in Salisbury who create a will have very personal reasons for doing so. They may have very specific preferences about which heirs are to inherit which assets. However, while the testator may have nothing but good intentions with regard to their will, when they pass away, their heirs may view things very differently. They may believe that the provisions in the will do not accurately reflect the testator's wishes.

When this happens, an heir may choose to contest the will. In such proceedings, the heir may seek to render part or all of the will void. There are numerous grounds upon which to base a will contest.

Estate planning is best done as early in life as possible

Putting off the creation of your last will isn't the most responsible decision, but it is a common one. Many people like to tell themselves that waiting until retirement, or right before it, is the best time to formalize plans for after they die. Sadly, for a portion of those people procrastinating, the result could be leaving loved ones unprotected in the event of their sudden or unexpected death.

While you may hope for a long retirement and plenty of time to plan for the care of your loved ones, you never know when you may get into an accident or suffer a sudden medical event like cardiac arrest or a stroke. Creating a last will or estate plan as early in life as possible is the best way to protect your loved ones and your own peace of mind.

Which form of 'ation' might best resolve your legal dispute?

Legal problems come in many different forms. If your issue is a civil matter, regardless of the type, there is one thing that likely is common across the board. The word describing the road to resolution will end in "ation."

There are four such words that spring immediately to mind. They are: arbitration, mediation, litigation and negotiation. The first three words are processes for resolving legal disputes. Negotiation is a tool that can be used in any of those circumstances at various times. As American statesman Dean Acheson described it, "Negotiating in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree."

It's That Time Again

The middle of Summer is upon us and the thoughts of many parents now turn to the beginning of the school year. Local stores are displaying school supplies and uniforms signaling the return to school is sooner rather than later. Summer is often, hopefully, a stress-free and flexible time of the year for parents who are co-parenting children following a separation and divorce. The start of the school year can bring up problems that require attention and planning, especially if parents want to successfully navigate the upcoming school year together. Even for parents that work well together, back to school usually brings its own set of unique struggles to address. Whether you are working on putting an agreement in writing, or looking to your Separation Agreement or Order for answers, here are some common topics that you should think about as you prepare for the school year.

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Kluttz, Reamer, Hayes, Adkins & Carter, L.L.P.
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Salisbury, NC 28144

Phone: 704-216-4012
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