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12 Estate Planning Terms You May Not Know

Estate planning is making sure things are in order before your death or in the event that you are incapacitated. When working with an attorney to plan your estate, you may hear some new terms. We want to make sure everything is clear while you are making these important decisions, so here is your personal estate planning glossary.

  • Beneficiaries – The persons and/or organizations who receive or benefit from the trust assets after the death of the trust grantor.
  • Disinherit – To prevent someone from inheriting from you.  You cannot disinherit a spouse in North Carolina without his or her consent.
  • Estate – A fictitious legal entity set up for the purpose of collecting assets and paying debts after the death of an individual.
  • Joint Ownership – A form of ownership in which two or more persons own the same asset together.  There are two types of joint ownership.  Joint ownership with right of survivorship and joint ownership without right of survivorship.  Joint ownership with right of survivorship allows the surviving owner(s) to take the deceased person’s’ interest after death, automatically, usually by operation of law.  Joint ownership without right of survivorship means that the deceased person’s interest generally passes pursuant to the deceased person’s Will or pursuant to North Carolina law if the deceased person did not have a Will.
  • Living Will – This is also called A Desire for Natural Death or an advance directive. This document lets a person state his or her wishes for end-of-life medical care, such as life-support and feeding through tubes, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions for themselves. A living will have no power after death.
  • Personal Property – Movable property such as furniture, automobiles, equipment, cash, and stocks. This is unlike real property, like land, which is permanent.
  • Power of Attorney – The authority to act for another person in specified, financial, or all legal matters. A power of attorney has no power after death.
  • Revocable Living Trust – A written agreement that appoints a trustee to manage and administer the property of the creator. Unlike a will, a trust does not die with you. Assets can stay in your trust until the beneficiaries reach the age you want them to inherit.
  • Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) – A law enacted in many states that allows you to leave assets to minors by appointing a custodian. Most often, the minor will receive the assets at age 18.
  • Will – A legal document by which a person, decides how to distribute his property at the time of his death. One or more persons will be named the executor to manage the estate until it is distributed.

You have the choice to let the courts handle your business or handle it by your family — but the latter means taking care of some things now. Contact us to have a say in your family’s future by starting your estate plan.  

What Our Clients

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Oliver and Sherrie M. – Car Accident

“We were hit head-on by someone who run a red light. I got bruised up real bad inside and I had just had shoulder surgery and it inflamed that. My wife was hurt the worst. It disfigured her right arm. We were referred to Mr. West through our son-in-law so we went up and set an appointment with him. We went in and met him for the first time and he is a very nice gentleman to say the least. He took over the case and found out who the [driver] was. It had totaled the car and I had just gotten it paid off. They didn’t even get hurt. Mr. West took the case and went way out of his way to help. The lady who hit us … they had only the cheapest insurance to get the car on the road … so he helped us get more money to help us pay the bills. We are very happy with how it turned out. Kelly and West, they’re good people. You can talk to them and they’re down home people.”