Sanford Trusts and Estates Attorney Explains Requirements for Modification

Many individuals establish a trust with the help of a Sanford trusts and estates attorney to effectuate important goals.  They may want to ensure that the next generation has funds available for their basic needs and education.  They may reserve funds for a child with special needs to use.  They may establish a trust for a charitable purpose.  However, in some cases a Sanford trusts and estates attorney may need to be consulted because a modification to an existing trust may need to be made.

North Carolina allows trust modifications for a variety of reasons.  A trust can be modified due to unanticipated circumstances or because the trust is not being administered effectively.  If a modification or termination of the trust would better effectuate the purposes of the trust, the court can make such an order.  If a trust has a value under $50,000, the trustee can move to terminate the trust if the value in the trust does not justify the cost of administration.   If there were mistakes made in the construction of the trust, these mistakes can be remedied through a modification.  Charitable trusts can also be modified.

Depending on the circumstances, a trustee, beneficiary or the settlor can make modifications to the trust in question.   Many modifications require that a proceeding be brought in order for the court to approve or disapprove a modification or termination of the trust.   The court may also have the power to remove the named trustee and appoint a different trustee.  A trust may also provide specific information regarding other ways to modify the trust and the grounds necessary to make such changes.  A trusts and estates attorney can explain what the options are in a given situation.

Probate Attorney in Lee County Helps with Litigation Avoidance

While many people may worry about how taxes will impact their estate plan, given the high exemption limits, a probate attorney in Lee County can explain that the more practical concern is how litigation will impact the estate plan.  After a person dies, heirs at law or beneficiaries in the will or trust may come to the conclusion that the testator was unduly influenced and may commence with expensive litigation.  A probate attorney in Lee County can explain possible arguments that can be raised in litigation and how to protect against them.

Some of the drawbacks of probate litigation are that the testator’s wishes may be undermined, people in the community can hear about it and the litigation can erode the estate’s funds so little or nothing is left after the battle is over.

While there is no guaranty that someone will not contest the will or trust, there are preventative planning techniques that can be employed to reduce this possibility.  For example, if the testator believes that his or her competence may be questioned, a health provider’s assessment at the time the documents are executed that the testator was of sound mind at the time of execution of the estate documents can serve as powerful evidence especially when memorialized in a stand-alone affidavit.  Witnesses can also attest to their belief of the testator’s capacity when they observe him or her signing the will.

Another way to help avoid such will or trust contests is to include clear language in the estate planning documents and a disincentive for such claims.  For example, if the testator anticipates a will contest by a particular person, he or she may include a clause in the will that states that the beneficiary will lose the interest afforded him or her in the will if he or she brings such litigation.  Additionally, the testator should include clear language in the will or other document that explains any possible disparities so that the beneficiaries will understand the reasoning behind these decisions.

Trusts Attorney in Broadway NC Explains When You Need a Testamentary Trust

A trusts attorney in Broadway North Carolina discusses a person’s estate plans and final wishes to determine the appropriate type of financial tools to put into place.  In some instances, a trusts attorney in Broadway North Carolina may recommend a testamentary trust. 

A testamentary trust is a trust that is part of your last will and testament.  It provides for the distribution of the estate according to particular instructions.  Testamentary trusts are ideal for individuals who do not have complicated estates and who do not want to deal with the administrative expenses related to handling a living trust.

A testamentary trust becomes effective at the time of death and provides specific instructions regarding the trust assets.  In this manner, a testamentary trust allows for arrangements and conditions that could not be made through a simple will.

In many cases, a testamentary trust is established for the benefit of a minor child.  It often includes life insurance proceeds.  If the settlor dies, the testamentary trust allows the appointed trustee to carry out the wishes of the trust.  The settlor establishes the use of trust funds and other directives within the trust document.  He or she names a trustworthy individual who will carry out these duties, called the trustee.

In addition to use for minor children, testamentary trusts may also be used to provide for a relative with special needs.  They can also be used for anyone who stands to inherit a large sum of money upon the settlor’s death or any other individual who may benefit from their use.

Have Your Estate Planning Attorney in Harnett County NC Review Beneficiaries

Part of an effective estate plan that an estate planning attorney in Harnett County North Carolina may create is the use of beneficiary designation forms.  While a will or trust may be the cornerstone of an estate plan, beneficiary designation forms can dispose of certain assets, such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies and bank accounts.  Having an estate planning attorney in Harnett County North Carolina review your beneficiary designation forms can protect you from unwanted consequences. 

In some cases, individuals sign beneficiary designation forms and do not update them.  During the course of several years, many events in life can change.  A married person may get divorced.  A single person who listed his or her parents may now want to list a spouse.  A following out may affect a person’s desire to provide anything to an outdated named beneficiary.

The problem with outdated beneficiary designations is that the court usually does not have the power to override such a beneficiary that was originally contemplated by the decedent.  The decedent can no longer state his or her preference.  Therefore, the court must go by what was written on a paper years ago.  Therefore, unintended consequences may result, such as an ex benefiting from the decedent’s death.  Furthermore, a will or other document cannot overrule a beneficiary designation form, so it is imperative that these forms be reviewed periodically by an estate planning attorney and updated to reflect your current wishes.

Additionally, the beneficiaries named in a will or trust should also be reviewed and updated periodically.  Circumstances may change that affect your final wishes.  For example, a child may have special needs and may be in greater need of resources than other children.  Getting remarried may also trigger a desire to change such arrangements.

Three Times It Pays to Have a Probate Attorney in Lee County NC

Under some circumstances, the executor can be held personally responsible for mistakes he or she makes.  In order to avoid such consequences, many executors retain the services of a probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina.  A probate attorney in Lee County North Carolina is especially helpful in the following scenarios:

Real Estate Must Be Handled 

For many people, their most valuable asset is real estate.  The executor has the responsibility of safeguarding the decedent’s property and following the mandates of the will.  The executor also has the duty to maintain the property.

The executor may be tasked with the responsibility of selling real estate.  It is often advisable to list the property quickly since it can take some time to sell real estate.  A probate attorney may be able to provide information about the options available to the executor, such as investing some funds into the property so it will yield a higher sales price or selling property with flaws in it to an investor if it would not otherwise secure a good price.

Hiring Other Professionals 

There may come a time when the executor needs to hire another professional, such as a realtor, accountant, financial planner or tax advisor.  While a friend may be employed in one of these professions, hiring him or her may create a conflict of interest.  A probate attorney may be able to recommend another professional that is more neutral to the executor.

Submitting Documents to the Court 

There are specific documents that the executor must submit.  There are also special deadlines that must be adhered to.  A probate attorney can ensure that the proper procedures are followed in order to avoid unnecessary problems and delays.

Minimizing Conflict with the Help of a Family Law Attorney in Broadway NC

Family law matters are some of the most emotional and contentious due to the high stakes.  These legal issues may involve a couple’s children, property and livelihood.  When going through such turmoil, it is important that each party be represented by a different family law attorney in Broadway North Carolina.  A family law attorney in Broadway North Carolina is familiar with family law issues and can take steps to minimize conflict such as:

Handling Communication 

When two parties are involved in a dispute, it is common for their legal counsel to recommend not communicating with the other party about the dispute.  Any negative communication may later be used against them.  However, a lawyer can handle communication with the other party or with his or her attorney if the other party is represented.  Being able to detach from the situation can often help minimize any potential drama.

Making Recommendations 

A family law lawyer deals with family conflict on a daily basis.  He or she can make recommendations based on his or her professional experience.  For example, a family law lawyer may recommend distancing from social media while a case is pending.  Staying connected to a social media account of an ex often leaves a person emotionally invested.  A family law lawyer may also suggest mediation as a way to help resolve some of the issues and to preserve a more positive relationship between the parties.


A skilled family law attorney can advocate on your behalf without frustrating the process.  He or she can represent your best interests and negotiate a fair settlement of the case.  In divorce, this may mean pushing for certain assets.  In child custody cases, this may mean fighting for more time with the children.  He or she zealously represents the client’s interests.

Business Lawyer in Lee County NC Explains Succession Planning

A good business lawyer in Lee County North Carolina knows that the best time to plan for the end of the business is at the beginning.  At this point in time, there likely is no conflict as the business owners are forging ahead on a new path.  A business lawyer in Lee County North Carolina can help develop a thorough succession plan for the business. 

Succession planning allows the business owners to determine the lifespan of the business and how it will continue even if the business owner is no longer around to run the company, either because of death or his or her own preference or that of the remaining business owners.  A clear succession plan begins by identifying the goals of the business in regard to how it will endure after a business owner’s departure.   For example, if the business is a family business, there may be a desire to keep the business in the family.  If the business is a corporation, there may need to be provisions regarding possible buyouts of other owners.

The succession plan should echo the business’ shareholder agreement, partnership agreement or similar agreement that highlights how ownership interests can transfer.  A clear decision-making process should be employed to determine important decisions during a time of transition.  This succession plan should be disseminated to others in the business that has a stake in it, such as shareholders or family members.

The succession plan may name a person who will take over.  Alternatively, it may provide a process to vote on the new head of the business.  Additional support personnel may also be identified to help with periods of transition.  By taking the time to draft such a plan, the steps will be in place when the time comes to implement them.

Trusts and Estates Attorney in Broadway NC Explains A No Will Situation

If a person dies in North Carolina without a will, his or her family may be confused about what will happen next.  A trusts and estate attorney in Broadway North Carolina can explain what happens in this situation.  As a trusts and estate attorney in Broadway North Carolina can explain, much of what occurs is based on the state’s laws of intestate succession. 

Intestate succession means; who has the legal right to inherit when the decedent had no valid will and to what extent they stand to inherit.  The inheritance is based on the estate assets at the time of death.  The portion that heirs are entitled do depends on the identity of remaining survivors.  For example, if the decedent had children but was unmarried at the time of death, the children inherit everything.  The surviving spouse inherits everything if the decedent had no children, parents or descendants.   If the decedent had one surviving child or dependent, the surviving spouse would inherit half of the real estate owned by the decedent and a portion of his or her personal property.  The surviving child would inherit the remainder.  If a person dies with only a spouse and parents surviving him or her, the spouse receives half of the real estate and a portion of the personal property; the parents receive the remaining half of real estate and portion of personal property.

This inheritance only includes amounts owned by the estate at the time of death.  Therefore, funds in a trust are not subject to division in the manner described above.  Similarly, life insurance proceeds that do not name the estate as the beneficiary are not included.  A trusts and estates attorney can work with clients in order to help them avoid the unnecessary and unwanted results of intestate succession.

Probate Attorney in Sanford NC Explains how to Avoid Litigation

A probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina can explain that litigation can quickly drain the funds of the estate and leave family members at odds.  Fortunately, there are several steps that individuals can take to avoid litigation before it ever becomes a possibility.  Some suggestions you may hear from a probate attorney in Sanford North Carolina include:

Have a Properly Drafted Will 

While there is no guarantee that an heir at law will not contest a last will and testament, having a properly drafted will can help decrease the probability that such a contest will be successful.  An estate planning lawyer can help ensure that all legal formalities are carried out.  Additionally, he or she can help ensure that all potential, known issues are accounted for in your estate plan.

Avoid Probate

Much litigation occurs within the probate context.  However, there are several ways to avoid probate altogether, also allowing you to avoid probate litigation.  Probate assets include property that is owned at the time of death.  However, it does not include life insurance proceeds, property in trusts, property owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship or property transferred at death with a properly executed beneficiary designation form.  A probate attorney can help transfer property and establish trusts in order to help you avoid probate.


In some cases, there is confusion after a loved one dies, leading potential heirs to question whether the will or trust really reflected the testator’s wishes.  By talking through your preferred plans well before death, much of this confusion can be eliminated.

Talk to a Lawyer

An estate planning lawyer can discuss other strategies that can help you avoid litigation.  Additionally, he or she can explain ways that you can protect your assets in case litigation does ensue.

Real Estate Attorney in Sanford NC Explains Adverse Possession

North Carolina residents may be surprised to learn that trespassers can legally obtain property that belongs to another after meeting certain conditions.  A real estate attorney in Sanford North Carolina can explain when adverse possession may apply.  Additionally, a real estate attorney in Sanford North Carolina can provide representation to a party that is affected by adverse possession. 

In order for a trespasser to acquire adverse possession of a property, he or she must openly occupy the property that is otherwise abandoned.  This possession must be ongoing for 20 years in most cases.  However, if the trespasser has a deed or other written instrument that he or she gives the right to possess the land, he or she need only occupy it for seven years.

There are strict rules regarding the occupation of such property.  In order for a trespasser to acquire the right to the land, he or she must use the land in a way that the actual landowner knows or should know that the trespasser is living there.   The use must also not be compatible with the owner’s use of the land, usually meaning that the owner has not given the trespasser permission to use the land.

Additionally, the trespasser must continuously use the land.  If he or she only intermittently uses the land, he or she will not have the right to adverse possession.  Similarly, the trespasser must have exclusive use of the land.

Property owners who do not want their legal rights to a property can take steps to safeguard their property interests.  A real estate attorney can evaluate a claim regarding adverse possession and provide recommendations and information about options that may be available to the property owner.