What Is a Will?

Estate Planning PitfallsIn North Carolina, a Will, or more formally known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document through which you can:

  • Express your final arrangements wishes such as a preference for burial or cremation.
  • Nominate an executor to manage your final affairs after your death and carry out the terms of your Will.
  • Provide instructions for who you want to receive your assets, property, and possessions and the terms of how you want them to receive the assets. This may include instructions for who will receive your home or other real estate, your automobile, furniture and household possessions, bank accounts, and similar.
  • Provide instructions for who you want to receive sentimental items or family heirlooms such as heirloom furniture, jewelry, or artwork.
  • If you have minor children, you may also nominate a guardian to raise your child if you should die before your child becomes an adult.
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More sophisticated wills may also:

  • Include one or more testamentary trusts—basically “rule books” setting forth the terms of how you want certain assets managed for your heirs. This can be useful if you have young or irresponsible beneficiaries. It can also be used to protect your heirs' inheritance from future potential lawsuits, creditors, or divorce.
  • If you have a loved one with special needs or that is disabled, your will may include a supplemental needs trust to ensure that any potential inheritance does not disqualify your beneficiary from important government benefits that they may depend on.

We're Here to Help!

Feeling overwhelmed trying to sort out your options? Many of our clients have told us that they felt overwhelmed when they first began planning, but with our help, we helped them make sense of the options and design a plan to fit their goals. We've empowered thousands of Wake County-area residents to take control of their future with their estate planning and long-term care planning solutions. Download our free report, Estate Planning Pitfalls: The 12 Most Common Threats to Your Estate & Your Family's Future, or call us at 919-443-3035 to get started.

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning