“A woman in Brooklyn decided to prepare her Will and make her final requests. She told her lawyer she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered all over Macy’s. “Why Macy’s?” asked the lawyer. “Then I’ll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week.”
Good joke from my estate planning law professor at Duke! But it points up an important aspect of life: It is important to plan for the future and providing for your loved ones. Everyone needs a last will and testament, power of attorney, living will, and I’ll add to that “Asset Protection”, especially if you own your own business. Here are five reasons to have your attorney draft a new will:
1. First, if any of these apply to you, you need a new will: (1) I got married, (2) I got divorced, (3) we just had a new child. Under North Carolina law, in the absence of a will, your assets go to your heirs according to the laws of intestate succession. For example, a child-less widowed spouse gets only one half, the other half goes to the parents.
2. You own a business! Business succession planning is very important. My last post was about buy-sell agreements (check it out!), where owners agree among themselves about succession planning in the event of death, disability, sale of business, or termination of employment. You need to coordinate all of this planning with your last will and testament.
3. You just moved to this state from another state or country. State laws vary so it is better to execute a new will if you reside in this state.
4. You have reason to protect your assets. Asset protection for doctors, lawyers, business owners, and those with assets at risk has become ever increasingly important. Taking steps now to protect your assets, not after liability is incurred, will be the only way to protect those assets.
5. You have estate tax, capital gains, or gift tax planning concerns. You can mitigate taxes by planning carefully with an experienced estate planning attorney.