Several years ago a will was filed with the Clerk of Court which contained the decedent’s final wishes for her funeral. She was very specific about where she was to be buried, the church her service was to be held in, and other arrangements including the color scheme.
While a will is a very important document, it is not the place to leave instructions for your final arrangements. In this case, the family decided cremation was the best route and held a small memorial service for her. When they later read the will they discovered their mother’s intentions and were naturally heartbroken that her wishes were not carried out.
When a loved one passes the will is not usually the first priority, arranging the funeral or memorial service is. Filing a directive with the funeral home is a good way to help ensure that when the time comes your final wishes are met.
In another case, a gentleman wrote his mother’s will. The will was ambiguous in places but left specific bequests to grandchildren and other family members. The dutiful son opened the estate administration and began distributing assets as he saw fit, not necessarily in accordance with his mother’s will.
When the time came to file an accounting with the Clerk of Court, he was informed that his distributions were incorrect and that he must correct these issues before an accounting could be approved. This went on for over a year and finally resulted in a hearing before an Assistant Clerk of Court, at which time he was ordered to reimburse the estate for the value of the assets which he improperly distributed and then make the correct distributions. The gentleman argued that he was carrying out his mother’s wishes as she had expressed them to him before she passed. While he may have been carrying out her wishes, because they were not in compliance, the matter became very costly for him.
Scenarios such as this can be avoided with proper end of life and estate planning. Simple actions such as storing the will in a safety deposit box seem like good ideas at the time, but often create additional issues for the family. In this case, a Clerk of Court will be required to inventory the contents of the safety deposit box with a family member or their attorney and a bank employee present.
This could mean waiting until the Clerk of Court can arrange a time to meet you or your attorney at the bank only adding to the delay in beginning the estate process, not to mention the added hassle and expense. If a will is found the Clerk of Court must take the will back to the courthouse for filing. All other contents of the box remain there until the Executor can be appointed and then retrieve the contents.
It’s the simple things that can create big challenges down the road, and estate planning is no exception. An attorney practicing estate law will advise their clients in the proper estate planning. This helps to ensure that their wishes are followed. In addition, their families may be spared the heartbreak of a long, cumbersome, and expensive estate administration. Each individual is unique, and their estate planning should be no different.
With proper planning tailored to your specific needs and wishes, you will help to bring peace of mind to your family and alleviate the added stress and expense of a complex estate administration.
If you would like help with creating a will or directive, or need to review and update your current documents, feel free to contact our wills lawyer in Cary NC. We are here to help you.
Are you considering estate planning? If so, congrats. We hope this information helps you decide to start planning today! Remember, you're never too young to start. Call now to learn more. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about estate planning. Also, contact our wills lawyer in Cary NC to schedule a consultation if you have yet to start estate planning. It’s never too early to make plans for your wishes upon death.