UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WORKSHOP

Divorce causes major life changes. It can be very difficult to navigate and if done improperly can cause undue emotional and financial harm. To help keep that from happening, Meek Law Firm will be conducting a workshop in March of this year on Uncontested Divorce. This workshop is free to the public. The workshop will […]

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HERE’S HOW TO ENSURE YOUR ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS IS SMOOTH SAILING

The process of estate planning can either be smooth or rough, depending on your individual circumstance and the person who handles it. Interestingly, estate planning is one of those procedures many people would rather put off for a later date. Most times, it is put off simply because of the work that needs to go into it, as it can be a long process to complete. If you have been assuming there will be another time to do this, you might up in a situation when there isn’t. The sooner you do it, the better.

One of the situations in estate planning that can be quite challenging is when there are no children in the picture. It can also be a challenge if the person has no designated beneficiaries. Read about this in the following post:

PLANNING YOUR ESTATE WHEN YOU’VE GOT NO CHILDREN OR HEIRS

Certified financial planner Mike Keeler has a client, a retired teacher, who saved diligently for her golden years and will leave behind a sizable estate when she passes away. Her estate-planning challenge, though, is that she has no children.

It’s a situation financial advisors come across frequently: Childless clients who are unsure what should happen to assets they leave behind or whom to appoint as their proxy decision-maker.

“Sometimes there is no close family, and the person doesn’t know who to leave their estate to,” said Keeler, CEO of Peak Financial Solutions. “They also don’t know who to name as executor of their will or who they trust to make decisions for them if they are [incapacitated while still living]. These can be tough decisions.” Read more at CNBC…

It is advisable to start early if you want to carry out your estate planning and have special circumstances, as highlighted in the post above. That way, you don’t have to feel the pressure of time as you plan.

An attorney plays a crucial role in this whole process. If you had thought of doing it yourself, the following post should shed some light on the importance of an estate attorney:

Details are Many in Matters of Trust Administration

Much of the process of estate planning is concerned with transferring your assets to your heirs smoothly, without conflict, and with the minimum taxation allowed by law. It is a simple idea – you want your family, loved ones, and favorite charities to benefit as much as possible. While your intentions may be straightforward, however, the legal requirements for creating and administering a trust to transfer your assets to your heirs can be quite complex.

Whether you want to designate an individual trustee to manage assets and facilitate transfers when the time comes, or would prefer that the court oversee the transfer via the probate process, implementing your intentions in legal documents compliant with the requisite state formalities is essential.

Planning on who will inherit you and how it should be done is not something you can afford to take lightly. It also has many legal details that are best handled by an estate attorney.

So who is an estate attorney? Discover who he or she is, and what estate attorneys in general are responsible for in the following post:

WHAT IS AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY?

An estate planning attorney is a type of lawyer who, through years of mentoring, continuing legal education and experience, understands how to advise clients on getting their affairs in order to prepare for the possibility of mental disability and eventual death.

What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

Estate planning doesn’t begin and end with a last will and testament. An attorney specializing in this field will also draft living trusts, develop a plan to mitigate or avoid estate taxes, and work to ensure that your life’s savings and assets are safe from your beneficiaries’ creditors after your death. Read more at The Balance…

 

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WORKSHOP

Divorce causes major life changes. It can be very difficult to navigate and if done improperly can cause undue emotional and financial harm. To help keep that from happening, Meek Law Firm will be conducting a workshop in March of this year on Uncontested Divorce. This workshop is free to the public.

The workshop will discuss the procedures and steps for filing an uncontested divorce. It will also address the importance of understanding the difference between an uncontested divorce and an unsettled marriage. This workshop is for anyone who is about to separate, has separated or is contemplating filing an uncontested divorce from their spouse. We will help you avoid the pitfalls of filing improperly by giving you the step by step processes to ensure it is done right the first time. Additionally we will help explain the purpose and effect of Separation Agreements on property rights between spouses and how Custody and Child Support agreements work to settle matters where minor children are involved.

The date of the workshop has not been announced at this time. We will be choosing the date and posting it on our website and on our Facebook page as soon as possible. Please check here for updates or like us on Facebook to be updated via your timeline.

DO I NEED ESTATE PLANNING?

Most people do not think about their own death on a regular basis. I would suggest that it is not something that you should do all the time simply because it is somewhat depressing. The old adage is that there are two things you can count on in life; death and taxes. Though estate planning can’t help you avoid death, it can help you avoid unnecessary taxes. It can also help you alleviate the burden that your family will face in the time of your loss.

Estate planning is a simple way to provide yourself and your family peace of mind that things will be fine if you are no longer with them. A proper estate plan will not simply say what you want to have done with your favorite T-Shirt or where you want to be buried. It will help you determine what happens to your stuff, what you want to happen if you are in a coma or in need of artificial life sustaining treatment and even how your pets will be taken care of when you pass. The most comprehensive of packages will take a look at all of your assets and find the proper direction for them to go. It will contemplate the tax implications of the transfer of your assets after death. It will designate beneficiaries and powers of attorney. It will also make sure that you have the proper amounts of life insurance and a guardian named for your minor children.

The final result of a proper estate planning package should be a comprehensive look at your life and how it is today. It should take a freeze frame of your current situation and make sure that if something were to happen to you today or in the near future that you are comfortable with the outcomes if it were to happen that second. It also needs to have enough foresight to allow some time to pass before you need to renew the plan.

For any person that has had any significant change in their life, it is a perfect time to revisit your estate planning that was done previously. The addition of a new child, a divorce, a marriage or any other major life change provides a perfect reason to create or revisit the plan you have. Each of these events can cause a new need to arise that it will be helpful to prepare for.

LIVING WILL VS. HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY

Although a living will and a healthcare power of attorney are both health related documents associated with estate planning in North Carolina, they serve different functions. In many cases, it’s necessary to have both a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.

Similarities between a living will and healthcare power of attorney

Both of these documents allow you to designate a person who you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. In order for these documents to be valid, both require that you are at least 18 years old and currently sound of mind. Being sound of mind means that you are generating these documents of your own free will without being coerced by any other person.

Differences between a living will and healthcare power of attorney

The stipulation inside your living will regarding the appointment of another person is related strictly to deathbed concerns. At this point, the document is used to articulate your wishes with regard to life-prolonging measures that you wish to be taken in the event that you will not recover. For example, you can articulate your plans for continued care if you have a terminal illness or in the event you become brain-dead.

Your durable power of attorney for healthcare purposes, on the other hand, is applicable for all health care decisions. The durable power of attorney for healthcare is only active so long as you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Once you are no longer incapacitated, you retain the control over decisions about your life. Your durable healthcare power of attorney can be designed with exact instructions for your representative agent.

Do I need both a healthcare power of attorney and a living will?

Although every person should have a living will, it is likely that your living will can encompass the entire range of medical concerns you might face. For example, if you are afflicted with a particular condition and do not want to receive treatment (like dialysis), your durable healthcare power of attorney can give specific instructions to the person you have appointed.

Choosing an attorney for my living will and healthcare power of attorney

Selecting a lawyer to generate your healthcare power of attorney and living will is an important decision, since these will be the official legal documents articulating your wishes. Working with an experienced and qualified attorney is necessary.

Jonathan Meek has helped many individuals in this critical area of estate planning and he is ready to assist you as well. Contact Meek Law Firm today to discuss your options. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment.

HOW CAN I MODIFY MY CHILD SUPPORT?

In a proceeding to modify the amount of child support payable under a child support order that was entered at least three years before the pending motion to modify was filed, a difference of 15% or more between the amount of child support payable under the existing order and the amount of child support resulting from application of the guidelines based on the parents’ current incomes and circumstances shall be presumed to constitute a substantial change of circumstances warranting modification of the existing child support order.

What?  This is what the guideline says…but what does it really mean?

It basically means that the court will be looking for a significant “change in circumstances” for the parent that is currently paying child support.  Typically this means that the parent paying child support has had an increase or decrease in their wages.  The court will not likely consider modification unless the increase or decrease in income is at least 15% up or 15% down from the time the last review of child support was made.  However, there are other reasons for seeking modification besides income changes.

The person paying child support may be entitled to have credit given to them for certain things.  For example, how many nights the child stays with the parent paying child support per month, other children that the parent is supporting, health care premiums paid by that parent for the child, or child care paid for the child.  All of these things may become a factor when considering a modification.

You may be entitled to a modification or credits in your child support and it has not been reported properly. Regardless, if you are paying or receiving child support, it is in the best interest of the child to keep good records and understand what needs to be paid to support the child.  Every court in North Carolina, and arguably the entire US, is working very hard for the best interests of the child in these situations.  As always, the internet is full of information to educate yourself.  Look up a NC Child Support Calculator to try and calculate what your proper amount should be.

Photographer: healingdream

WHAT IS AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY?

Charlotte, NC residents need to know that estate planning is an important process that protects you financially and personally. Estate planning attorneys serve many functions related to your desires for your belongings and assets after you pass away. Estate planning attorneys are most often involved with asset disbursement through document creation.

These documents include trusts, wills or other estate planning records that lay out stipulations of what will happen after you die. A living will communicates your declarations regarding your wishes if you become physically or mentally incapacitated.

While the initial drafting of these documents is the cornerstone of estate planning, attorneys also help clients with many other issues including income tax concerns or initiating the process of collecting the death benefits from life insurance policies. An estate planning attorney will also oversee any checking accounts and prepare for any estate or gift taxes that will be due. Plus, estate planning attorneys can provide guidance about retirement planning.

At Meek Law Firm, the estate planning process begins with your initial consultation with attorney Jonathan Meek. He will ask you a series of questions about your individual situation and address your immediate concerns. The information he gathers will be used to generate the necessary planning documents to protect your wealth and well-being both while you’re alive and after you pass away.

There are financial and personal benefits to proper estate planning. Financial benefits include the ability to preserve and grow your assets, protecting these for your own future and for your beneficiaries. Personally, you’ll feel peace of mind knowing that your advanced medical directives and powers of attorney are aligned with your personal needs and desires.

Estate planning is not a process you should engage in on your own. Tax laws and estate planning stipulations can be extremely complex and are best navigated with the assistance of a licensed lawyer. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney like Jonathan Meek is the best way to ensure your plans and desires are recognized and carried out during your lifetime and beyond.

As you can see, the decisions involved with estate planning are too important to entrust to just any lawyer. Meek Law Firm will make sure that your health directives and asset disbursement documents are ironclad and will be handled exactly as you desire. Call (704) 848-6335 or use the contact form on the right of this page to schedule a consultation appointment with Meek Law Firm.

DO I NEED A LAWYER FOR MY TRAFFIC TICKET?

You are not required to have a lawyer for almost anything you can do at the particular courthouse you have to report to.  In most actions, especially those involving traffic citations, a person can show up and represent themselves.  Even in slightly more serious matters the Court will grant a pro se litigant (person that is representing themselves) a certain amount of leeway for not knowing the rules of the court and how to apply them to the case.

However, as with all things you must ask yourself, do I really know what I am doing and should I have an expert help me with this.  As a business owner I have always worked hard to try and not pay someone else for something that I could figure out myself.  The trick is to know when you need an expert.  Representing yourself in court is kind of like attempting to play a sport for the first time.  You can look up the rules, you can think up the things that will possibly work but you have still never played the game before.  Furthermore, if you want to play the game at any level other than recreational leagues you absolutely need to have a coach to help you get the fundamentals down.

I use this analogy to illustrate this point.  Attorneys are here to act as coaches when it comes to a traffic violation or any other case.  The desired outcome is chosen by you, the client, but the means to that end are chosen by the Attorney.  The good attorney acts as a coach to help guide you away from pitfalls from the beginning.  Furthermore, the Attorney may be able to give you more options than you thought were available to you.  Many Attorneys will give you a free consultation so that they can make a judgment call as to if you even need an attorney or if your case has merit to be taken to court.  Just finding one that will do this for you can give you great insight into whether or not you need to have representation.

As an attorney in NC, I know that we are trained to know the rules and how to most efficiently and effectively help the client.  There is no way that every case, that you ask an attorney to help you with,  will be dismissed.  However, just like you would help yourself by getting a coach to help you play cricket for the first time, an attorney can help get you the information that you need to know before going into court and, if you decide for representation, help you make the strongest case that you can in court.

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