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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.

An estate plan can include a health care power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. These documents designate an individual who will make financial or health care decisions on one's behalf should one become incapacitated. In addition, a person can execute a living will that dictates what medical care they want when they are unable to communicate their wishes. Without these documents, a person's loved ones are left guessing at what the person would have liked, which could lead to disputes.

In addition, through a will or trust, a person can select who they want to inherit their estate. This is especially important if a person wants to leave an inheritance to someone who is not in the line of intestate succession. Also, through a trust, a person can place contingencies on a beneficiary's inheritance, so the inheritance is used for the purposes the person wants.

In the end, there are many advantages to executing a comprehensive estate plan. There is no guarantee that one's wishes will align with the laws of intestate succession in the absence of a will or trust. In addition, estate planning involves end-of-life decisions that, if left to the state, can lead to disputes between family members. Therefore, most people will benefit from executing an estate plan that clearly expresses their wishes.

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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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