Business Succession Planning & Why Now May Not Be the Right Time to Start a Business

This week I sat down with Estate Planning Attorney Nathan Workman to talk about Business Succession Planning, the right and wrong times to start a business, more productivity hacks, and a little life advice from Davy Crockett. The podcast is available for download from the iTunes StoreGoogle PlayStitcher Radio, and TuneInYou can also download this episode HERE. As always, if you enjoy the show hit that subscribe button and give us a 5-star rating in the iTunes store. 

A study from UC Irvine found "it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task" after being interrupted. It is mentally impossible to stay in the zone when you're attention is constantly interrupted by a Facebook notification, email, or retweet. So, use this simple tactic to take your productivity to the next level. Turn those notifications off, set a schedule for checking email and social media, and find your groove. You'll work faster and accomplish more, leaving you all that extra time to scroll that Instagram feed or search for Pokemon. (Warning: letting go of those comforting distractions can be a challenge though, so commit to trying it for a week and measuring your success before giving up) Watch tutorial videos for iOS and Android here:

The following links are for the books discussed during the episode. Every book we discuss and link is a personal recommendation of mine or the current guest. The links found on this page are affiliate links, so a portion of any purchase from these links benefits the show. If you dig these books or have a book recommendation of your own please let us know in the comments or shoot us a message. 

Nathan Workman's recommendation: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Frozen Embryos, Password Planning, and My Favorite Productivity Hack

This week I answer listener questions. We discuss how to plan when you have genetic material on ice, how to create a password succession plan, how to address unauthorized use of a social media account, and common Estate Planning mistakes to watch out for.  The podcast is available for download from the iTunes StoreGoogle PlayStitcher Radio, and TuneInYou can also download this episode HERE. As always, if you enjoy the show hit that subscribe button and give us a 5-star rating in the iTunes store. 

The following links are for the books discussed during the episode. Every book we discuss and link is a personal recommendation of mine or the current guest. The links found on this page are affiliate links, so a portion of any purchase from these links benefits the show. If you dig these books or have a book recommendation of your own please let us know in the comments or shoot us a message. 

Have a question you want answered? Send it to me HERE, and we'll answer your question on next week's show.

Click Here to schedule your free Estate Strategy Session with me and for weekly doses of actionable advice subscribe to the FutureSelf Estate Planning Podcast. You can also download our free Estate Planning manual 6 Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust.

Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Estate Planning Myths, Tips, and More with Attorney Bobby Sawyer

This week's blog post is a very special Guest Post and interview with Attorney Robert "Bobby" Sawyer. The podcast is available for download from the iTunes StoreGoogle PlayStitcher Radio, and TuneInYou can also download this episode HERE.  

What’s the number 1 estate planning challenge for most of my clients? The answer depends on the client’s particular situation and stage in life.

Big picture – all of our estate planning goals can be summarized like this: first, we want to control what we have for as long as we are able; second, we want to make sure a trusted person is there to manage affairs when we become unable or pass away; third, we want to make sure our assets go to the right people; and finally, we want to do it as efficiently as possible and with as little government involvement as possible. When the government gets involved, it means taxes.

Where you are in life will dictate the details of each of those goals. For new parents or parents of minor children, the name of the game is making sure there will be a roof over the children’s heads, food on the table, and someone is going to take care of and love them as much as you do. Easier said than done, right? Here is a list of steps that will get the ball rolling.

If you’re on the other end of the spectrum – in retirement and enjoying the golden years of life – then your estate planning goals are drastically different. A big concern for you is how to handle the cost of long-term care. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, the annual costs of long-term care could easily exceed $85,000. Without long-term care insurance, these costs could quickly eat through your retirement nest egg.

This list gives you some good steps to take in order to get a plan in place to help when a loved one becomes incapacitated.

To address the cost of long-term care, I generally recommend 2 things: a revocable living trust based plan and then a will that contains testamentary supplemental needs trust provisions. All this means is your will contains provisions to create a trust. The net effect of this is that between a husband and wife, when the first person passes away, a trust is created that has several protections and features that a standard revocable living trust does not.

There are several advantages to using a revocable living trust as the basis of your estate plan. One of the primary ones is avoiding the cost, time, and stress of the probate process

Bobby is a partner with the Law Office of Craig S. Johannesmeyer, PLLC, a Real Estate and Estate Planning Firm based in North & South Carolina. Bobby is a United States Army Veteran, an Auburn University graduate, and lives with his wife and three children in Belmont, North Carolina. To order a copy of the book Bobby discussed in the podcast episode click here The Generals by Thomas Ricks or on the link below (The show receives a portion of each purchase made through these affiliate links.)

Have a question you want answered? Send it to me HERE, and we'll answer your question on next week's show.

Click Here to schedule your free Estate Strategy Session with me and for weekly doses of actionable advice subscribe to the FutureSelf Estate Planning Podcast. You can also download our free Estate Planning manual 6 Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust.

2 Comments

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

This Is Who Controls Your Social Media Accounts When You're Gone.

Updated: November 11, 2016

Thanks to a technical glitch at Facebook today, millions of users were greeted with memorial banners at the top of their pages announcing their demise. Clearly you're very much alive, but this post will give you the skinny on how memorial pages work and what you can expect from Facebook when your time comes. 

I recently discovered a service cleverly named Eternime. Eternime boasts taglines such as "Who Wants to Live Forever?" and "Become Virtually Immortal." Eternime offers to preserve your digital identity so that your memory and legacy can live on, and potentially interact with future generations, forever. I expect this will eventually become known as the poor man's Technological Singularity. Think about that. Right now, Eternime believes that enough information about you exists online to fashion a virtual replica that could interact and answer questions. But, is that true? Is there enough information out there right now to start having conversations with yourself? 

Introverts will never leave the house again. - Tumblr

Introverts will never leave the house again. - Tumblr

Eternime collects your thoughts, stories and memories, curates them and creates an intelligent avatar that looks like you. This avatar will live forever and allow other people in the future to access your memories.

Let's take Facebook for example. Unequivocally the most popular social media platform, Facebook's highly personalized, intimate experience and perpetual addition of features attracts new users everyday.  Many new features are intended to supplant entire industries; a calculated move to keep users from ever leaving the platform. Users can now see current weather conditions right in their News Feed, keep track of daily events in their social circle, make telephone calls, send and receive money, send text messages, and request an Uber. From credit card information to decades of intimate conversations, the amount of personal information stored within the typical Facebook account is staggering and mildly terrifying. At this point, the idea of a stranger rummaging unattended in my house is less disconcerting than handing over unfettered access to my Facebook account. 

Delete my browser history ingalls law

This scenario brings up a number of interesting questions. What happens to our social media accounts, our digital identities, when we're gone? Who owns them? Who can legally control them? It turns out the answer varies by platform. If you're the kind of person that likes to do the heavy lifting themselves, here are the terms & conditions for the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, SnapchatTwitter, Google, Youtube, PinterestLinkedIn, and Tumblr.

For the rest of you...

To ensure your wishes are legally memorialized, the first step is to add specific language to your will dictating how you would like your accounts to be handled. The best practice is to include all accounts you own in your will, from email and social media accounts to personal blogs. Like an executor of your tangible property, you can name a social media executor in your will to be responsible for carrying out your wishes for your digital identity. Be sure your will specifies that your social media executor be furnished a death certificate, as many platforms require such documentation.

FACEBOOK

As with all things social media, Facebook is leading the field in personalized legacy planning. The administrator of the deceased's online estate has two options.  First, they can opt to delete the user's account, sending the account to the digital-equivalent of the graveyard. This option will allow new registering users to claim the deleted account's username.

The second option for the administrator of the online estate is to turn the deceased user's account into a memorialized page. With this option anniversary reminders, birthday notifications, and friends you may know prompts will be disabled. And, unless the user added a Legacy Contact (discussed below), new friend requests will be disabled as well. Once memorialized, only friends of the account will be able to view the account's memorialized page, its prior posts, and pictures.

A feature unique to Facebook is the Legacy Contacts option. This allows a Facebook account holder to choose a Facebook contact to manage the profile upon the users death. Legacy Contacts are able to take basic actions such as pinning a post on your Timeline, responding to new friend requests, and updating your profile picture. However, Legacy Contacts cannot post to your page as you or access your messages. You also have the option to allow your Legacy Contact to download a full copy of the content you have shared on Facebook. This may include posts, photos, videos, and information from the About section of your profile. Creating a legacy contact is a relatively simple process:

Go to “Settings," then select “Security Tab." Once there, you will have the option to select your Legacy Contact. Watch my video on adding a Legacy Contact (iOS version HERE.)

If the account user fails to designate a legacy contact, a third party family member seeking to administer the account must send proof of death and proof of their relation to the deceased user to Facebook administrators. A copy of the death certificate is sufficient to establish proof of death, and a link to an online obituary may be acceptable proof to an administrator. Reasonable documentation to prove family relation to the deceased may also be necessary. Such documentation may include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Household documents such as bills and notarized documents
  • An obituary that names next of kin

INSTAGRAM

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, and since then the two social media sites have deployed similar terms when it comes to deceased account holders. However, the glaring difference is the absence of a Legacy Contact on Instagram. Like Facebook though, the same two options to administer the user's account are available: delete the account or request that the page be memorialized. To request that an account be memorialized a report can be filed HERE. To request that an account be deleted the deceased user's social media executor or family member must fill out This Form and upload the same acceptable documentation (birth certificates, marriage licenses, household documents such as bills, notarized documents, obituary naming next of kin) as well as proof of legal authority to Instagram administrators. This information can be accessed on the app by clicking on the gear symbol in your profile at the top right of the screen, then pressing the "Help Desk" tab, then typing in a search string such as “Death of an account user."

GOOGLE

Similar to Facebook, Google offers account holders the option to decide how they would prefer their accounts to be handled. Information on designating a third-party administrator can be found here. However, if the user elected not to define their wishes, family members are given three options:

First, with proper documentation, a family member or executor may have the account and all contents permanently deleted.

Second, a family member or executor can request access to an account. However, Google requires a court order before providing access to accounts. As a social media user, I appreciate this stance on the issue. The contents of your Google profile are likely to be highly sensitive and personal, perhaps more so than Facebook, due to Google's plethora of interrelated products. 

Third, a family member or executor may wish to retrieve funds from the user's account.  Like the second option, Google requires a court order proving the requesting party is entitled to receive the funds.

YOUTUBE

Google purchased YouTube in 2006, and since then users have been able to use YouTube with their Google account, without the need to log in separately. Although both sites appear to operate under one account, if you wish to delete a YouTube account it must done separately. Simply deleting the corresponding Google account will not delete the YouTube account.

Deleting the YouTube account of a deceased person is more complicated than the previous platforms. Without possessing the account login information, it is unlikely a family member will be able to have the account removed. You can find more information on YouTube's official support page. YouTube reserves the right to remove inactive accounts, but their methods of choosing which inactive channels and videos are removed seem arbitrary at best. 

TWITTER

Based on Twitter's policy, the need to remove an account should be as simple as waiting a few months. Twitter's terms and conditions state that any inactive account may be deleted after 6 months of inactivity. However, a quick search of accounts shows that Twitter doesn't proactively enforce that rule.

Per their policy, Twitter will not provide access to accounts, regardless of the relationship, absent a court order, or if public policy demands access on a case by case basis. However, Twitter will respond to requests to have accounts deactivated. To submit a request to have an account removed click HERE. After submitting a request, Twitter will send detailed instructions by email. Twitter recommends compiling the following information before proceeding:

  • The Username of the deceased user's account (@example)
  • A copy of the death certificate
  • Your first and last name
  • A copy of your driver's license
  • Your email address
  • Your contact information
  • Your relationship to the deceased user
  • The requested action (deactivate Twitter account)
  • A link or copy of the obituary

In certain instances, out of respect to family members, Twitter may remove images of the deceased user upon request. When determining whether information should be removed Twitter considers public interest factors, such as whether the information is news worthy or if the user was a celebrity. The same link above can be used to request the deletion of private information. Unlike Facebook, once a username has been claimed a new account can never use that name again. More information on requesting removal of a Twitter account can be found HERE.

PINTEREST

Absent a court order, Pinterest expressly forbids access by third parties to a deceased user's account. Pinterest does not allow accounts to ever be deleted, only deactivated. To request that an account be deactivated send an email to: care@pinterest.com   Include the following information in the request: Your full name, full name and email address of deceased user's account, a link to the Pinterest account (search under users), documentation of death such as a death certificate or obituary.  Finally, proof of relation is required.  Examples of documentation needed to establish relationships are: birth or marriage certificate, family and household records, notarized documents, and obituary listing next of kin. Pinterest will then deactivate the account and the account will never be accessible again. The user name of deactivated accounts will not be available to new users registering for an account. Learn more about deactivating a Pinterest account HERE. 

SNAPCHAT

Due to the fleeting nature of Snapchat, where images appear briefly and then disappear forever, Snapchat has chosen not to define clear guidelines for deleting the account of a deceased person. Currently no process exists to memorialize or request deletion of an account. If the family member or executor wishing to delete an account has an account themselves, they can email Snapchat in the help tab. However, Snapchat points out that administrators “may not be able to reply individually.”

If the family member or executor is not a Snapchat user, the only way to request that a third party's account be deleted is by clicking the “I Need Help” link.  From there, check the box that states “I have a safety concern, then click the “A Snapchat Account box.” Currently, the only option that resembles a third-party account deletion process is by checking the box that states, “I want to remove my child's account.” After requesting removal your child's account, there is an option to send a personal message to Snapchat administrators that the family member can use to explain the situation of a deceased user. 

Keep in mind, this process is not currently endorsed by Snapchat, but based on their terms, may be a viable workaround. Snapchat offers no guidance for the procedure in their terms and conditions or public policy. We reached out to Snapchat for a comment, but true to their word, they "may not be able to reply.”

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn, like most platforms, does not offer users the option to name an administrator of their account in the event of death. Unless removed the deceased's account will last in perpetuity. However, LinkedIn employs a rather straight-forward process to request that an account be deleted. To request that an account be deleted users should complete this Form. LinkedIn will then review the submission and contact the requesting party. LinkedIn recommends gathering the following information before proceeding: 

  • The member's name
  • The URL to their LinkedIn profile
  • Your relationship to them
  • Member's email address
  • Date they passed away
  • Link to obituary
  • Company they most recently worked at

More information on removing a deceased LinkedIn user's account.

TUMBLR

Tumblr does not currently have an option to name an account administrator in the event of death, and has not codified a process for the removal of a deceased user's blog. However, for a potential workaround, visit the Account Management page, click the Contact Us button at the bottom, and provide the details of your request. If you have tried this method please let us know how it worked out. If you think Tumblr should add his feature, you can also send a Feature Request through the Account Management page as well.

We'll continue to update this page as this information evolves.

At this point, I am on the waiting list for an Eternime account, but I'll keep you posted on the status of my virtual clone. In the meantime, you can send any questions or comments you have or Schedule your Estate Strategy Session with me. 

For weekly doses of actionable advice subscribe to the FutureSelf Estate Planning Podcast. And, you can download our free Estate Planning manual 6 Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust

The book discussed in this podcast episode was Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. You can purchase the book HERE.

Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Podcast Launch Day!

I couldn't be more thrilled to officially roll out Episode Zero of the FutureSelf Estate Planning Podcast! The podcast is available for download from the iTunes Store, Google PlayStitcher Radio, and TuneIn. You can also download this episode HERE.  The FutureSelf Podcast will provide weekly doses of valuable, actionable financial and estate planning tips from top attorneys, entrepreneurs, financial planners, and accountants. Our goal when we produce every episode is to leave you, the listener, with take-away tips and advice to make your life better in measurable ways. Because your values and beliefs are every bit as important as your money when it comes to planning for the future, we focus on strategies that empower every aspect of your life, from personal to professional. Next Friday on Episode 1 we'll be discussing what happens to your social media accounts when you pass away or become incapacitated, and how to ensure your accounts don't fall into the wrong hands. Join us every Friday for the most up-to-date content and planning strategies to make your future self your biggest fan.

Have a question you want answered next week? Send it to me HERE.

Click Here to schedule your free Estate Strategy Session with me or Here to download your free copy of our new eBook "6 Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust."

1 Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Her Father Died When She Was 4 Years Old. This Is How His Love Lived On.

Grateful to have had a Dad who had a kind heart, loved beer, baseball, country music, his family, and my mama.

Grateful to have had a Dad who had a kind heart, loved beer, baseball, country music, his family, and my mama.

When I was still in diapers my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor-yes, cancer. One week before my 5th birthday he died. He was 43 years old. This was a terribly tragic moment in my life, but I'm not writing to make you feel sad or gain your sympathy. I'm writing to share my story of a beautiful, loving man and the sacrifices he made to ensure I could live a wonderful and full life. This is a story with a happy ending. 

It's been 32 years since my Dad left me, and not a day goes by that I don't think about him. I wish everyday that he was here to see the woman I have become, the life I have made for myself. I wish he could meet my husband, I wish he could laugh with my friends. As I write this, millions of families around the world are celebrating Father's Day. This has always been a difficult day for me, but this year has been particularly challenging. My husband and I have recently made the decision to start our own family, and the thought that my children will never know their Grandfather, will never know the strong, kind, gentle, and caring man that he was, hurts my heart.  

Estate Planning Guest Post Success Jenna Rush Ingalls Law

My Dad was born to be a family man. When I was born (surprise!) he had already raised three adult sons, and he thought changing diapers and chasing toddlers was behind him. He didn't miss a beat though. We were only together for a short time, but I have so many beautiful memories of him. From teaching me how to fish to chasing me around the yard, he was always a doting and attentive father. While grief is always a rollercoaster, with it's ups, downs, twists, and turns, one thought always brings me comfort in those moments, the person I am today is a direct result of how much he care about me.

After spending literally half of her life with my father (she married him at 17), his passing was extremely difficult for my Mother. The months and years after were a testing time in her life, sometimes even simple day-to-day routines were unbearable. I didn't know this until later in life, but my father had spent years planning for just such a moment. For all his strength, he understood the uncertainty of life all too well. And, the last thing he wanted was to leave his wife and child behind to fend for themselves in what can be a cruel world. My father's foresight and financial responsibility provided us the comfort and support he could no longer physically provide for us. Because of his careful attention we were always provided for and never felt the fear of financial instability. My Mom was able to stay home and raise me, as they had always planned for, we were able to move to a new home in a safe and quiet neighborhood, and I was able to attend a good school. I may have taken these things for granted at the time, but looking back, these were amazing advantages that few are afforded after such a tragedy. I have no doubt that my life would have turned out very differently had my mother had to immediately embark on a career, in the midst of the turmoil and grief, in order to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. Sadly, this kind of tragedy happens to families all over the world everyday. So, each day I am so thankful for not only the time I got to spend with my father, but for the planning, hard work, and dedication he put into making sure we were safe and provided for even in his absence.

That fish was a lot bigger in person.

That fish was a lot bigger in person.

Thanks to my Dad making arrangement for the “just in case”, my childhood is filled with memories of my Mom picking me up from school everyday, baking cookies, and summers filled with travel and seeing new places. My childhood memories could have looked very different if my Dad had not put a plan in place to ensure that we were cared for when he was gone. He loved baseball and he sure knew how to prepare for a curveball. 

One of our last pictures together...in front of the lilacs

One of our last pictures together...in front of the lilacs

Now, as I am preparing to start my own family, I have such a deep understanding and appreciation for the the benefits of planning for the future. I know most people have a very abstract understanding of the benefits of planning for a future that does not include them, but I can say from personal experience, it's one of the most beautiful, thoughtful, and kind things my Father did for us. And, I am committed to making sure my children will feel the same comfort and protection if one day I'm not there to give it to them. 

Jenna Rush is a writer, chef, Oncology Nurse Supervisor, adventurer, supermodel, aspiring horticulturist, and one hell of a wife. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her devilishly handsome husband and their brood of four-legged children. 

Do you have a story of how Estate Planning made a positive difference in your life? We'd love to hear about it. The best entries will be considered for their own posts (stories will only be reproduced with your express consent.) Feel free to send your stories or questions to us HERE.

Named Executor of a Will? Read This Now.

I received a phone call last month from a friend. She was calling to tell me her Grandmother had passed away, and she wanted to make sure the estate was handled properly. These are difficult conversations, and they never get easier, especially when a friend or family member is involved. Every single time I'm reminded of the day when my Grandma passed; the pain I experienced in that moment. I knew she didn't have long, but it was still a devastating blow that I wasn't prepared for. Although my friend's Grandmother's death was not sudden either, the hurt and despair in her voice was unmistakable, and it was heartbreaking. I knew exactly how she felt. 

Sharing a dance with one of the ladies largely responsible for the man I am today.

Sharing a dance with one of the ladies largely responsible for the man I am today.

When I began practicing law I found these conversations challenging, it felt sleazy to talk business with someone who was so very clearly suffering. At such a time, you would think that "talk with attorney" would be the least desirable item on their to-do list. However, as time went by, I came to learn that these conversations are a vitally important step in the grieving process for many of my clients. In the midst of such despair, these conversations are a beacon of light. The weight of grief is upon their shoulders, and now they are faced with the task of sorting through legal documents and adhering to obscure court rules and guidelines. I am in the unique position to step in during this moment of anxiety and uncertainty and lift that additional burden from their shoulders. Although these conversations will never be a pleasant part of my job, I have come to appreciate my unique ability to provide comfort and counseling in their time of mourning.

"Where's the will? Where do we take it? How do we find out what all the assets are? How do we know if there are creditors? Do we have to pay them? How do we determine which of them gets paid first? How do we split the house three ways? Do we HAVE to sell it?" Most people find themselves learning about the probate process in the aftermath of losing a loved one. This may be the understatement of the year, but that's not the best emotional environment for learning such a dense and daunting body of law. I've seen this scenario play out enough times that I created this Executor's Checklist as a handy quick reference guide to help you get started assembling documents and moving in the right direction. I have tackled the high points, but this post and Checklist are not exhaustive resources, so please shoot me a message or give me a call if you have any questions. 

Because this is such a common issue, I developed a system to fix the problem before it starts. Every plan I design includes a training course for executors and beneficiaries to educate them on their respective roles. Executors and beneficiaries also receive a custom reference guide tailored to their specific role. This extra attention up front makes all the difference when life throws you a curveball later.  

Probate Exceptions

The big question on everyone's mind is always "do we need to probate the will at all?" Usually, the answer is yes. However, in certain instances when the estate contains only "non-probate" assets, it may be possible to skip probate administration. Such assets may include: 

  1. Life insurance policies with a named beneficiary;
  2. Retirement accounts with a named beneficiary;
  3. Bank accounts that are payable on death to a surviving beneficiary;
  4. Real estate owned as tenants by the entirety;
  5. Real estate owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

Several narrow exceptions also exist for small estates, persons owing a debt to the deceased, Landlords removing personal property, family allowances, and certain inexpensive motor vehicles.

Administration by Affidavit: This procedure may be used if the estate does not exceed $20,000 after liens, creditors, etc. (N.C.G.S. § 28A-25). Administration by Affidavit is also available if a surviving spouse is the only beneficiary and the estate does not exceed $30,000 (N.C.G.S. § 28A-4-2);

Payment of Debt Owed to Deceased: For debts under $5,000, the debt may be paid to the Clerk of Court. (N.C.G.S. § 28A-25-6)

Landlord Removal of Personal Property. If the deceased is the sole tenant of a residential rental property, the landlord may take possession of the property pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 28A-25-7. This one is more complicated than it first appears. It's not okay to just take the property, there are a number of statutory requirements to be aware of before taking any action. 

Family Allowances. If family allowances meet or exceed the value of the estate, probate administration may not be necessary. A surviving spouse is afforded an allowance of $30,000, and children of the deceased under 18 years old are afforded an allowance of $5,000 (under 22 if a full-time student, under 21 if disabled or mentally incompetent.) (N.C.G.S. § 30-15,17) As an added benefit, family allowances are also shielded from creditor claims. 

Transfer of Motor Vehicles. In certain qualified instances, titles to motor vehicles may be transferred outside of probate administration. This may be accomplished through the family allowance or by using Form MVR-317, a NC DMV form. (N.C.G.S. § 20-77(b))

Notice to Creditors. In some small estates, people may be tempted to forgo the notice to creditors. Sometimes this is fine. However, if any of the heirs or beneficiaries plan to sell, lease, or mortgage any of the real property within two years, a personal representative should publish the notice to creditors. In practice, it's generally a good idea to err on the side of caution and publish the notice to  creditors. (N.C.G.S. § 28A-14-1) It it also possible to publish the notice to creditors without formally probating the estate. However, there are a number of rules and exceptions to be aware of. (N.C.G.S. § 28A-29-1)

For more information download the Executor's Checklist For Navigating Probate here. Keep in mind, this post and checklist are not a comprehensive list of the rules and exceptions, so please shoot me a message, give me a call, or consult with your attorney before making any decisions. 

Download 6 Things to Know Before Making a Will Or Living Trust

 

Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

This Is How to Plan If Your Pet Is Family

I went camping with my family (my wife Jenna and our dog Liberty) over Memorial Day weekend. We stayed at River Creek Campground, a delightful place just outside Lake Lure, North Carolina. Yes, the place where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Because my wife is apparently the only person from our generation that missed that movie as a child, we didn't spend much time scouting the filming locations. Instead we hiked to Bradley Falls on Saturday and spent Sunday paddling the lake. It is a lovely area and we look forward to going back.

Each time we pack up the car and spend  a few days outside, I'm reminded what a big part of the family Lib has become (Did you grab the leash? Food? What about her bed?) It will be two years in August since we rescued her (I always feel a little silly saying we "rescued" her, as if she were drowning and I put my life in peril to save her. The real heroes in the rescue game are the people with the Greater Charlotte SPCA, who work tirelessly to save lives.) Being such a great travel companion, we rarely travel without her anymore. Although, she still holds a slight grudge over leaving her for our two-week honeymoon.

Taking Selfies while the captain and first mate get us out of a jam

Taking Selfies while the captain and first mate get us out of a jam

The point is, she's more than a pet to us, she's part of the family. And, as part of the family, I'm concerned about her welfare if I wasn't here to take care of her anymore. Who would she live with? Who would make sure she got her shots? Do they even know what vet she was going to? These concerns are very real. Every year in the United States family pets are abandoned or euthanized because no one is there to care for them. That's why we decided to create a Pet Care Trust for Lib and our felines, Bodhi and Ivy. The Pet Care Trust gives us the peace of mind that our furry family, that has provided us so much comfort and companionship, will be cared if and when we're no longer able. 

A pet care trust is created to provide continued care for a pet. The trust can provide assets as well as personalized instructions on how the pets should be cared for and who should provide the care. Pet care trusts can be particularly valuable if you own pets that may be strenuous and/or expensive to care for such as horses, exotic fish, or birds. A couple things to keep in mind when contemplating a Pet Care Trust: 1) name a guardian that you have previously discussed the Pet Care Trust with and has agreed to provide care for them, and 2) consider naming a trustee other than the guardian. Sometimes even the most well-intentioned person may begin to feel entitled to more than agreed upon after caring for Fido and Leo for a few years. 

by the way my name is liberty Line

by the way my name is liberty Line

As always, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message with any questions. And, don't hesitate to forward this to anyone that may have questions about protecting their pooches and other pets. Learn more about Pet Care Trusts by: Booking a Private Consultation or Clicking Here for more estate planning advice, informational videos and articles, as well as a copy of my new Ebook Six Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust.  

3 Comments

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Wealth Predators: Are You Protected?

In the classic 1987 movie Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team of highly-trained military operatives are stalked through the jungle by a ruthless and invisible hunter. To multiply the danger, the Predator has an arsenal of high tech and futuristic weaponry at his disposal. Did I mention he was invisible? (Spoilers) As the plot proceeds, the Predator picks off Arnold's team one by one, until only Arnold remains. In true Schwarzenegarian fashion, Arnold leverages his brute strength, ingenuity, and endearing bravado to get the best of the villain. They made a sequel. Don't see it (unless you love Danny Glover and you hate yourself.) 

Here's the too-long-didn't-read version: Wealth Predators are exactly like that. They stalk your assets and devour them until there's nothing left. That is, unless you have your very own Arnold, in the form of a Living Trust.

One of the unsung benefits of estate planning is protecting and preserving wealth between generations. Some lost wealth will always be attributed to taxes and poor planning by beneficiaries, but a significant amount of wealth is lost to Wealth Predators every year. 

Getting people to choppas before it was cool.

Getting people to choppas before it was cool.

We know the government is always coming for their share, but there are some less obvious predators lurking about. The most common wealth predators include: con artists that monitor probate proceedings, greedy lawsuit plaintiffs/creditors, charities, bitter spouses/ex-spouses, in-laws, and exorbitant bills from hospitals, retirement facilities, and nursing homes. Sometimes the beneficiaries themselves are responsible for squandering inheritances; from substance abuse, gambling addiction, mental illness, or simply poor money management.

Family turmoil is frequently to blame for wasted wealth. And, even the most seemingly well-adjusted families are not safe from future conflicts created by: divorce, bankruptcy, failed businesses, and unexpected tragedies. When parents are no longer there to resolve family conflicts, such catastrophic events can crumble these formerly harmonious relationships.

This is where proper estate planning can help. A well-crafted estate plan can contemplate these scenarios and implement strategies to prevent predators from pillaging and wasting wealth. Commonly used tools to combat wealth predators are: revocable/irrevocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT), spendthrift trusts, medicaid trusts, and special needs trusts. When it comes to using estate planning tools to create and protect wealth, it's best to keep in mind that there are rules, exceptions, more rules, and exceptions that swallow those rules. So, always consult an experienced estate planning professional before implementing any estate planning techniques. 

Because every client is unique, and not from a strictly financial perspective, we don’t market one-size-fits-all plans. Client’s values and beliefs are every bit as important to their estate planning objectives as their money is. That's why every plan I create is custom-tailored to achieve the goals and objectives of each client. As an added bonus, we offer members of our Estate Maintenance Program: 1) annual Estate Strategy Sessions with me, 2) annual updates to your entire estate plan (as needed), 3) 24/7 access to your entire estate plan on any device through our secure client portal, and 4) access to a yearly comprehensive financial checkup with a financial advisor, accountant, insurance specialist, and mortgage broker. 

 Know someone that could benefit from some advice? Feel free to share this with them.

Learn how to get your very own Arnold to protect your assets by: Booking a Private Consultation or Clicking Here for more estate planning advice, informational videos and articles, as well as a copy of my new Ebook Six Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust

 

 

1 Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

Powers of Attorney & Living Wills: Who Decides When You Can't Decide?

Power of Attorney Who Decides When You Can't Decide

"I just want a simple will." That's a request I get from time to time during consultations. It's usually around the time I begin discussing the value of having a power of attorney and living will. In the noisy world of advertising, where the shoes you looked at on Amazon follow you around the internet for two weeks, people are more suspicious of sales tactics then ever before. They came in looking for a will, and now I'm trying to sell them some fancy documents they weren't even asking about. As a business owner, that's a sentiment I can relate to. Rarely does a day go by without an unsolicited sales call promising me the world. Why is it then that most of these "simple will" clients end up asking for a power of attorney? Because I didn't try to sell them something they didn't need, I gave them the facts and let them decide. So, what are the facts about these often-overlooked tools? 

POWER OF ATTORNEY

A power of attorney grants authority to a representative, or “attorney-in-fact”, to act on your behalf. A power of attorney can take effect immediately or upon a specific pre-determined condition, such as your incapacity. The value in a power of attorney is the ability for you to designate who should represent your interests, not the court. 

The four most common types of powers of attorney are: 

  1. General. A general power of attorney grants your representative the authority to act on your behalf and make any decisions you yourself could make. A general power of attorney is often used to assist with financial matters, business transactions, real estate, and tax issues. Unless you specifically revoke it, a general power of attorney remains in effect until your death or incapacity. 
  2. Limited. A limited power of attorney grants your representative the authority to act on your behalf for a specific and limited purpose. A limited power of attorney is commonly used to perform real estate transactions when the buyer or seller cannot be present. A limited power of attorney generally expires after the specific purpose has been performed. 
  3. Durable. A durable power of attorney can be either general or limited. What differentiates a durable power of attorney is that it remains effective upon your incapacity. Without a durable power of attorney, the court will appoint a conservator or guardian to make decisions. Unless you specifically revoke it, a durable power attorney remains in effect until your death.
  4. Springing. Similar to a durable power of attorney, a springing power of attorney survives your incapacity. Uniquely, a springing power of attorney will not become effective until you are actually incapacitated or another specific triggering event contained in the power of attorney takes place. 

In North Carolina, in order for a durable power of attorney to survive incapacity it must be registered in the office of the register of deeds of the county designated in the power of attorney.

When selecting your representative, it is extremely important to select someone you trust, because that person may have unlimited access to your assets and may be called upon to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf. It's also important to discuss your plans with your potential representative before designating them to be sure they are willing and able to serve as your representative.

LIVING WILL

A living will, sometimes called an “advanced directive”, is a document that provides direction to health care providers during your incapacity. Often, a living will contains authorizations to provide or withhold life- prolonging measures such as blood transfusions, surgery, CPR, a respirator, and water and nutrition, that may only delay an inevitable death. If you choose to forgo life-prolonging measures, your living will can also provide for palliative care, often called “comfort care,” that serves to keep you comfortable and out of pain as life ends naturally. Keep in mind that so long as you are able to communicate your wishes in any way, your Living Will will never supersede your wishes.

HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY

A health care power of attorney is a durable power of attorney that grants your representative the authority to act on your behalf and make decisions regarding your health and medical treatment in the event of your incapacity. As with your living will, your health care power of attorney may also include directives and instructions for your health care provider regarding the use of certain treatments and life-saving measures. Frequently a health care power of attorney and a living will are contained in the same document.

North Carolina maintains an Advance Health Care Directive Registry where your health care power of attorney or living will can be registered and made readily accessible to your health care provider and family. http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/ahcdr/Forms.aspx

My wife and I often discuss which parts of our plan are most important to us, the will or the powers of attorney? On the one hand, our will ensures our wishes are carried out when we're gone, but the powers of attorney ensure our wishes are carried out while we're still here. Thankfully, we're not stuck choosing between the two. As you can see, these documents can provide immense value to any estate plan. To learn more about powers of attorney, living wills and more Click Here to schedule your Virtual Estate Strategy Session with me, or sign up for an Estate Planning Essentials Webinar. Choose a day and time that works best for you and we'll do the rest. As an added benefit, all members of our Estate Maintenance Program have 24/7 access to their entire executed plan through our secure client portal, accessible through any device. 

Click Here for more estate planning advice, informational videos and articles, as well as a copy of my new Ebook “Six Things to Know Before Making a Will or Living Trust." 

 

Comment

Robert Ingalls

I am the founding member of Ingalls Law, PLLC. My practice focuses primarily on Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation. I graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science, and received my law degree three years later. I have been admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. I represent clients in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination, and Personal Injury. I have also represented employees and employers in hundreds of unemployment benefits hearings throughout North Carolina. In addition to my law practice, I am an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, and The North Carolina Advocates for Justice.