Attorney Andrew J. Cobin, a partner at Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC, recently appeared on a segment of WPTF’s Triangle Afternoon News program to answer questions about wills and estate planning with radio hosts Rick and Donna Martinez. He discussed some of the basics of planning for the various phases of life.
Andrew Cobin concentrates his legal practice in this area of law and is among a select group of attorneys recognized by the North Carolina State Bar as Board-Certified Specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law. He formerly served our nation as a judge advocate general in the U.S. Navy.
Below is an edited version of some of Andrew’s answers to questions about wills and estates posed to him. You can listen to the entire 10-minute interview by clicking on the audio below.
How often should you review and update your will?
I think it’s one of those things that is easy to put on the back shelf. Things change. If you are not keeping things up to date in your estate plan, then when it’s called upon, it’s not going to reflect what your wishes really are at that time.
It’s easy to work with someone and just get the basics in place. The basics are better than having nothing. A lot of times when we are meeting with clients, we are educating them about the issues that they should be concerned about. You see a lot of these “ah ha” moments. A big “ah ha” moment for a lot of clients is the realization that there is a way that you can leave things to your kids, allow them to have control over it, but protect it from things like a divorcing spouse or bankruptcy or any number of things.
Some of these issues are uncomfortable questions that you have to face, particularly if you are a married couple. Do you talk with clients about the fact this is stuff you may not want to talk about a lot, but you need to?
It’s certainly important to be able to have a frank conversation. We deal with these issues every day. Some people are very uncomfortable at first. Other people approach it with a great deal of humor. It’s serious business. If you can’t be honest about it, it’s not going to work the way you want it to.
What are the basics of estate planning? Some people may not have a will or need to update
You want to do planning in consideration of the three phases in life—while you are alive and well, if you become disabled and after you are gone. First is while you are alive and well. Whatever we are doing with planning shouldn’t impact the way you control your assets today. The second aspect is having a plan for disability. This is a huge one. The truth of the matter is that once you reach the age of 65, there is a greater likelihood than not that you will experience some disability during your lifetime.
We need to have a plan in place to allow people to carry on the way you would have done it….
If you don’t have a good plan in place, then you are relying on things like guardianships in the situation of a disability to manage your assets. That is something that could be avoided and save a lot of money and a lot of heartache.
The third phase is transferring the assets to the heirs. There are a lot of ways you can do that to make it efficient and timely and make it advantaged for the heirs such as protecting the assets from divorce.
You can find more information about the essential documents for estate planning at the Brady Cobin Law Group website. There is also information about the probate process for people who die without a will.
What do you need besides a will?
Everyone is unique in this sense. Some people are very concerned about paying for long-term care. Some people do not have children, but many do. There is plenty you can do today.
You need more than just the legal instrument (such as a will or power of attorney). The legal instrument will give the authority. You need to have instructions. You need to have a conversation about end-of-life decisions. If you are giving someone the duty to make the decision about when to withdraw treatment, you owe it to that person to have a discussion at a minimum about the criteria when they should be exercising that authority to make end-of-life decisions.
You can find general information about creating advanced medical directives, health care power of attorney documents, guardianships, planning for young families, trusts, charitable giving and estate tax planning at the Brady Cobin Law Group website. For answers to your specific questions, contact the law firm at (919) 782-3500 to schedule an appointment.
Planning for an Uncertain Future
The attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group work with clients to plan for the future and the unforeseen. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they typically meet with clients online through video conferencing to discuss legal matters. They also can schedule in-person appointments in the law firm’s offices in Raleigh or Wake Forest.
The attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group help clients in all phases of life understand the issues that need to be considered and to develop plans that honor their lifetime of hard work and their wishes for the future. Whether you need assistance with updating a will, creating an emergency guardianship, or planning for the future, the attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group are ready to help. Call today or use the online contact form to schedule an appointment.