Preparing a will and dealing with estate planning are two daunting responsibilities that have complicated regulations and standards associated with them. That said, attorney Hank Doyle at The Doyle Law Offices, P.A. have been providing top-notch wills and estate planning services for over 20 years. Below are several frequently asked questions that will hopefully clear up any questions you may have.
Why do I need a will?
A will is a document that will provide for the legal transfer of your property to the people you want to have it after your death. To control how and to whom your property goes after your death, a will can help you do that.
What happens if I die without a will?
In North Carolina, a person who dies owning property without a will or other estate planning document will have his or her property distributed under the laws of intestate succession. Intestate succession takes place in North Carolina according to Chapter 29 of the North Carolina General Statutes. This set of laws lays out the schedule of which of your relatives will get a share of your estate and how much they will get.
I just moved to North Carolina from another state. Is my will from where I used to live valid here?
We get this question a lot in our practice. The short answer is maybe. There are and can be significant differences among the states as to the terminologies used and methods of execution that are required to create a valid will. A document that would be perfectly effective in one state, may not be accepted by the Clerk of Court in Wake County, North Carolina. Our advice to clients is to have their will and any other estate planning documents reviewed by an experienced North Carolina wills and estate planning attorney.
I live here in North Carolina but have a vacation home in another state. If I die while at my vacation home, where will my estate be administered?
Your estate will be administered in the county of the state where you make your primary residence. If you live here in Wake County, your estate will be settled through the Clerk of Court at the Wake County Courthouse. If you had real property outside of North Carolina, there may need to be an ancillary estate administration in that state to properly transfer ownership of that real estate according to your will.
My spouse and I have basically the same idea for how we want our property to be distributed when we die, can we do a joint will that will work for both instead of each one of us having our own separate will?
Each individual must have their own separate document in North Carolina. For many married people making a simple will based plan, a good option is for both get what are known as “reciprocal” wills. Each spouse will craft a will that is something of a mirror image of the other’s will and can work well to effectuate the couple’s joint intentions.
Can I just write up my own will?
In North Carolina, any person can write their own will. This is known as a “holographic” will. The risks of this are serious. There are strict requirements for what can qualify as a valid holographic will. Any error or variation from these rules could make the will invalid. Beyond that, there are certain terms and phrases that have legal meaning that don’t necessarily match up with how people talk in day to day language. Making an error with the wording of a holographic will can easily defeat the person’s intentions.
So, what’s the process to get a will prepared in North Carolina?
At The Doyle Law Offices, P.A., we encourage people who are interested in having a will or other estate planning documents created to contact us through our website or give us a call and make an appointment. At this meeting, you will meet personally with Hank Doyle who will answer all your questions and help you come up with right will or estate plan for you. Typically, at this initial consultation, we will get the necessary information to create the documents you need. Once the will is prepared, we set up a second meeting to review and execute the instrument in our office.
How much does a will cost?
In most instances, the legal fee for a simple will is based upon a flat rate. There are no hourly fees. When you meet with us and determine what your needs are, you will be quoted a flat fee. Of course, this can vary in more complex estate planning situations. We make sure our clients are fully informed and know in advance what the fee will be from the onset of the attorney-client relationship.
How long will it take for my will to be completed?
At The Doyle Law Offices, P.A., we work hard to handle our client’s needs in a timely fashion. We understand there can be circumstances that require immediate attention. Of course, these are serious and important legal documents that deserve careful preparation. We work with all of our clients to get their wills done as soon as possible and at the convenience of our clients.
I have some issues that make it difficult for me to travel to a lawyer’s office. Can you come to me?
Yes. This is an important component of the services that we are happy to offer to our wills and estate planning clients.
What if I change my mind later about some part of my will? Can I change it?
Absolutely. A person can change their will at any time so long as they have not been legally determined to have lost the requisite mental capacity to make a will. A will has no legally binding effect on anybody or anything while the person who made the will is still alive.
Now that I have had my will professionally prepared by an experienced North Carolina wills and estate planning attorney, what do I do with it? Is it registered with the Courts?
Once we have completed a client’s will, the original document is given to the client. As important legal documents, wills need to be stored in a secure but accessible place. Our office keeps electronic and physical copies of the wills we prepare, but the original document is what will be required by the Court when a person dies. Presently, there is no official repository of wills at the Courthouse or with the Clerk in Wake County. We typically advise clients to store their wills with their other important papers and let their Executor know where the document is and how they can access it when the time comes.
The Doyle Law Offices, P.A. is committed to providing top-notch expertise when it comes to representing and guiding those dealing with will and estate planning responsibilities. We have been representing clients in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, and across Wake County faced with said responsibilities for nearly 20 years. We know how to fight for your rights to obtain the maximum compensation that you deserve.