Lassiter & Sperati, PLLC
Schedule Your Initial Consultation 252-557-4582
Lassiter & Sperati, PLLC
Schedule Your Initial Consultation 252-557-4582

Rocky Mount North Carolina Legal Blog

Why is having an estate plan in place so important?

There are many people in eastern North Carolina who do not have an estate plan in place, but who realize that they probably need to get around to taking care of this important task sooner rather than later.

But some may simply asky, why is having an estate plan in place so important? A recent news article addressed this issue, and our readers would probably benefit from hearing some of the most pressing reasons for why they need to have an estate plan in place.

Consider the various tools available to you in estate planning

It is a curious dichotomy that most North Carolina residents probably know how important estate planning is, yet many people don't actually have estate planning documents in place. But, it is also somewhat understandable because, for some people, the estate planning process can seem rather daunting. Even a basic understanding of the available options may lead people to believe that there are simply too many scenarios to think about and, therefore, they exercise the "out of sight, out of mind" option.

However, while there is a wide variety of estate planning tools to consider, that doesn't mean that taking care of your needs will be an overly complex matter. Even those who simply have a will in place are lightyears ahead of those who are willing to risk the distribution of their estate to North Carolina's intestate laws. After all, the point of an estate plan is making sure that your assets go where you intend them to go.

Man arrested allegedly facing ninth DWI charge

Any driving while intoxicated charge is serious. However, anyone who is arrested for DWI who has a prior conviction for drunk driving will be facing heightened potential for punishment, if a subsequent conviction is entered. According to recent reports, that is exactly the scenario that a man from Georgia is facing in North Carolina after his arrest in Shelby recently for what is reportedly his ninth DWI charge.

According to the reports, the encounter between the suspect and law enforcement officials occurred around June 18. The reports indicate that the suspect was observed traveling in a Nissan Altima at 87 miles per hour in an area designated with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour. When the police officer who pulled the man over made contact with the suspect, the officer reportedly asked the suspect how much alcohol he had consumed that night. The suspect allegedly admitted that he was drunk.

Do these things before closing on a new home

If you're in the process of buying a home in North Carolina, it's safe to assume that you're looking forward to the day when you finally get your hands on the keys.

As excited as you may be, you don't want to get ahead of yourself. There are many important steps to take as you inch toward closing day, including the following:

  • Focus on any contingencies: From an inspection contingency to a financing contingency, you must get these in order as quickly as possible. For example, if you have a home inspection contingency, make sure any agreed upon repairs have been taken care of before your closing.
  • Contact your lender: Unless you are buying the home with cash, your mortgage must go through underwriting before you arrive at closing. Start on this process as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to make any necessary adjustments.
  • Review your HUD-1 settlement statement: Also known as a closing disclosure, this breaks down everything from your mortgage payment to the terms and conditions of the loan. If you spot something that doesn't add up, ask your lender for an explanation before closing.
  • Conduct a final walk-through: This is your opportunity to double check on the condition of the home. It's also a good time to make sure all agreed upon repairs are taken care of and that the seller has left everything behind as noted in the contract (such as appliances and window treatments).
  • Gather all the necessary documentation: Your agent and lender can help you get everything in order, but some of the things you'll need include photo ID, home inspection report, a copy of the real estate contract and proof of home insurance.

Aretha Franklin's holographic wills may cause more trouble

It has been in the news of late that the loved ones of the late Aretha Franklin, the famed Queen of Soul, actually did have three handwritten wills hidden in various locations around her home. Until this discovery, the thought was that she had no estate plan.

Of these three wills, two of them, dating from 2010, were found locked in a cabinet. The remaining will, although written four years later in 2014, was found hidden in the cushions of a couch.

Popular foreclosure program winding down

Several years ago, at the height of the economic crisis, North Carolina received federal money through the "Hardest Hit Program," a government-backed relief effort to help those in this state left in dire economic straits because of the so-called Great Recession. With this federal money, the state set up the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund, a state-run program that was able to offer financial support to unemployed North Carolina residents who needed help paying their home loans. The program helped families keep their residential real estate out of a foreclosure situation.

States had to spend the federal funds by 2020. The money for this Fund seem to be drying up about on schedule, even though Congress contributed additional funds to the initiative in 2015. Over its life, the Fund helped well over 25,000 North Carolina residents hang on to their homes, either through direct aid of up to $36,000 or by providing funds that allowed for a form of mortgage modification called a reduction recast.

Overview of the Medicaid look-back period

Previous posts on this blog have touched on the fact that couples in North Carolina who are advancing in years may need to think about how to plan for a long-term stay in a nursing home or other facility.

Because private insurance is expensive and many people just do not have the means to both afford their own late-in-life care and maintain a legacy for their children, many residents of the Rocky Mount area may discover that they are going to have to rely on the federal Medicaid program to cover their extended care.

What is a Drug Recognition Expert?

Many people in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, may not know it, but they can be on the receiving end of a driving while impaired charge even if they have not had a drop to drink. The reason is that, in North Carolina, a person can be charged with DWI for what the law calls an impairing substance.

An impairing substance includes any illegal drug, as well as any other medicine, lawfully prescribed, that can affect a person's mental or physical ability to drive. A combination of drugs and alcohol can also be an impairing substance.

What to prepare for during probate

When a loved one passes away, you may find yourself in the middle of the probate process. Even if you're not the executor of the will, you could still play a major part in the way things unfold. For example, this holds true if you're a beneficiary.

An understanding of what happens during the probate process in North Carolina allows you to plan accordingly. While the process never unfolds the same way twice, there are a few things you should expect:

  • Collection of all property: The executor will collect all property of the decedent, such as bank accounts, real estate and other valuables.
  • Payment of debts and taxes: The executor will also pay all debts, taxes and claims owed by the estate. For example, if the person is overdue on their taxes, this will be settled during the probate process.
  • Collection of all rights to income: For instance, this can include the collection of any dividends and/or past due paychecks.
  • Settlement of disputes: This doesn't always move to the forefront, but it's always a possibility. For example, a family member may claim that the decedent was improperly influenced into creating a will that left them out. Any dispute will add time to the process.
  • Distribution of remaining property: The final step is the distribution of any remaining property to the heirs listed in the will. After this step, the end is near.

Some North Carolina residents have complex estate planning needs

It often pays off for people to have some sort of estate plan in place. Even if they are of modest wealth, there are still some concrete steps they can take to make sure their assets are passed on to their loved ones. Moreover, younger parents who have children at home will want to use an estate plan to appoint a guardian for their children should the parents pass away.

For some residents of this state, however, estate planning promises to be a more complicated process. For instance, many owners of small, closely-held businesses will have to determine whether and how their business will continue to operate when they die or are incapacitated.

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Rocky Mount Office
120 North Franklin St.
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Rocky Mount, NC 27804

Phone: 252-557-4582
Fax: 252-972-9822
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Rocky Mount, NC 27803

Phone: 252-557-4582
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