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Salisbury North Carolina Legal Blog

Sentimental items: A key element in estate planning

Don't forget the little things when doing your estate planning. Those little items may prove far more important in the end than your major assets.

After all, you can add items with sentimental value to your will and your estate plan. These could include old photographs, artwork and family heirlooms like a wedding dress or a ring. These items may have been passed down for generations, or they may just be things that you are leaving to your own children.

We assist those with estate administration and litigation needs

There are many phases of the estate administration process in North Carolina. The estate must be opened, and if there is a will, it must be located. All the deceased's assets must be inventoried. The deceased's creditors need to be notified of the death, and debts must be paid out of estate assets. Life insurance claims must be submitted. Income tax returns must be filed. Finally, the deceased's assets must be distributed per the terms of the deceased's will.

However, if you are chosen to administer a loved one's estate, you may be so wrapped up in making funeral arrangements, clearing out your loved one's home and going through the grieving process, that it is easy to overlook one of these steps. But, such an oversight can be costly, both in time and money. Moreover, disputes can arise between heirs that further complicate the estate administration process. Thus, some people choose to seek legal help when it comes to estate administration and litigation.

Negligence may form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit

Perhaps you were injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. Or, maybe you slipped on a wet floor in a grocery store, causing an injury. Or, perhaps your doctor made a misdiagnosis leading to a worsened condition. In any of these cases, a person's injuries -- and the costs associated with these injuries -- can be significant. When that happens, a person in North Carolina may choose to pursue a personal injury case based on negligence.

In general, the following elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence in a negligence lawsuit. First, it must be shown that the plaintiff was owed a duty of care by the defendant. Then, it must be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care. The breach must have been the cause of the plaintiff's injuries, that is, but for the breach, the plaintiff would not have been injured. The defendant's breach must also be the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries. This means that the defendant should have known that the acts they committed could have the potential to cause others to be injured. Finally, there must be actual damages, such as medical expenses or loss of income.

Personal injury victims in North Carolina may need an advocate

Sometimes it is true that accidents happen. Unfortunately, many times a person's injury boils down to the negligence of another. For example, a person in Salisbury could be injured in a car crash. Or, a person could suffer an injury after slipping on a wet floor in a store. Broken bones, traumatic head injuries or spinal cord injuries are only some examples of how a person can be hurt in an accident. In the worst of cases, a person could die due to the negligent acts of another.

When any of these scenarios happens, the damages the victim suffers could be extensive. Of course, they could be seriously injured. However, there may also be property damage, medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish and more. Even trying to deal with insurance adjusters can be difficult. Ultimately, it can be overwhelming to try to seek compensation on your own.

Does the lack of an estate plan always spell out disaster?

Many people in North Carolina may already know that there are many benefits to estate planning. With a comprehensive estate plan, a person can pass on their assets through a will or trust, can select individuals to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated and can detail what kind of end-of-life care they want. However, does the lack of a will or trust always spell out disaster?

Take, for example, the death of music legend, Aretha Franklin. Franklin died without a will or trust. She had no living spouse but was survived by several adult children. This meant per the laws of intestate succession in the state she resided in, her estate will be split equally between her children after taxes are paid and obligations to creditors are satisfied.

Why a living will belongs in every estate plan

People often associate living wills with those experiencing extreme medical conditions. For someone dealing with cancer or battling a degenerative condition, it absolutely makes sense to put a living will in place. However, they are not the only ones who benefit from the protection of the documents included in a living will.

In fact, just about every adult who has preferences regarding their medical care or significant assets and financial responsibilities should consider creating a living will as part of their comprehensive estate plan. Failing to do so may leave your assets at risk and could place unnecessary strain on your loved ones in the event of something tragic happening.

What is the general civil litigation process?

When facing a lawsuit, whether you are the one bringing the lawsuit or the one being sued, it can be a stressful and confusing time. After all, most people in North Carolina have limited experience with the legal system, which makes it important that they seek legal help when necessary. One way to ease the stress that can come with general civil litigation is understanding how the trial process works.

First, the plaintiff serves a complaint and summons with the court against the defendant. The defendant then has a certain amount of time to respond to the complaint with an answer, including a counterclaim or a claim against a third party. If the defendant fails to answer the complaint, a default judgment will be issued in favor of the plaintiff.

Estate planning is not just for the old and wealthy

Some people may think they don't need an estate plan. They may think that estate planning is only for the elderly or for the very wealthy. However, neither of these things are true. For example, parents with children under age 18 may want to establish a plan that not only addresses how they want their assets passed on, but also who will be guardian of their child should they both pass away before the child is grown. And, even people of modest means may have opinions as to who should inherit their assets. An estate plan can address these concerns through the execution of a will or trust.

Moreover, estate plans can address end-of-life issues. For example, an estate plan can include a medical power of attorney to make medical decisions on a person's behalf should they become incapacitated. A financial power of attorney can accomplish the same thing, but with regard to financial decisions. Finally, an advanced medical directive can detail what end-of-life care or life-sustaining treatments you want if you are unable to make these decisions yourself.

How can a North Carolina motorist be distracted while driving?

Our smartphones allow us to do many tasks at once, increasing our productivity at home and work. However, multitasking is not appropriate in every situation, no matter how expedient. Specifically, people in North Carolina should not try to multitask while driving. Doing so can lead to distracted driving, a situation that puts all motorists on the road in danger.

There are three primary ways a motorist can be distracted. First, there are visual distractions that take a driver's eyes off the road. Second, there are manual distractions that take a driver's hands off the steering wheel. Third, there are cognitive distractions that take a driver's focus off the task of driving.

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.

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Kluttz Reamer

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Kluttz, Reamer, Hayes, Adkins & Carter, L.L.P.
129 North Main Street
Salisbury, NC 28144

Phone: 704-216-4012
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