With the new federal estate and gift tax laws, and the repeal of North Carolina’s estate and gift tax system, you do not need an estate plan, right? WRONG! It is true that the now “permanent” estate tax law provides for a much higher exemption than ever before: $5,340,000 for 2014, indexed for inflation. But there are still many non-estate tax planning issues that should be addressed in this time of increased exemption levels.

Did you know that if you die a resident of North Carolina without a will, not all of your assets will pass to your spouse, but, instead, some portion of your estate will pass to your children? Or that assets that pass to children under 18 years of age must be held in a court-supervised guardianship where application must be made to the court for distributions, and when that child turns 18, he or she will receive estate assets outright? Did you know that by North Carolina statute, instructions to the court on who you want to serve as the legal guardian for your minor children must be included in your will?

With an estate plan you can address:

Of course, if you DO have a taxable estate, there are even more reasons to develop a thoughtful estate plan, not only to address the issues above, but to try to mitigate your estate tax burden. Estate planning is not just for the very wealthy.

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