North Carolina Trusts, Estates & Elder Law Attorneys

The Trusts, Estates, and Elder Law attorneys at The Van Winkle Law Firm understand that estate planning is an ongoing process that changes with our clients’ needs throughout their lifetimes. We work closely with clients throughout each of their life stages (both personal and business) to create customized and innovative solutions for their estate-planning needs. From protecting wealth and family businesses to planning for disability and long-term care, our experienced and dedicated team of attorneys will work to protect your future. This dedication continues as our team continue to assist you with trust and estate administration matters. Additionally, we help clients resolve a wide array of disputes concerning trusts and estates. As a client of The Van Winkle Law Firm, you can safeguard your future, accomplish outstanding goals, and make life’s transitions easier for you as well as for your family members and other loved ones.

With nine lawyers who practice primarily in the fields, The Van Winkle Law Firm has one of the largest Trust, Estates, and Elder Law teams in Western North Carolina. Some of our attorneys complement their law school educations with master’s of law degrees in taxation. Our team is also staffed with fellows of the prestigious American College of Trusts and Estate Counsel as well as board-certified specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law.

Areas of Focus

Trusts Law: An Overview

A trust is an estate-planning tool that is used to either supplement (or replace) a will or to help manage a person’s property during life. The way a trust manages the distribution of a person’s assets is by transferring the benefits and obligations of ownership to one or several different people.

Reasons To Set Up A Trust

There are both economic and legal benefits to be gained by setting up a trust. Our trusts attorneys in North Carolina can assist with following situations, as well as others not listed here.

Manage Assets

Not all beneficiaries are capable or willing to manage the assets that would be transferred to them — this can occur when the recipients are minors or have disabilities. Instead, a trustee can step in to responsibly manage the assets.

Provide Privacy

A decedent’s will is usually probated, a process that makes the document and any details it contains about the person’s assets matters of public record. If you are not comfortable with releasing personal information publically, a trust, which is a private document, will keep confidential information about your assets.

Control Distribution

You do not always have direct control over how your beneficiaries will distribute the assets they receive from you. However, you can control (or prearrange) the distribution of assets to beneficiaries using a trust.

Save Taxes

A trust can help you save taxes by distributing certain assets to lower-income beneficiaries who are taxed at lower rates. Some exceptions may apply, but an attorney from The Van Winkle Law Firm can ascertain what is in your best interest on this and all other matters concerning trusts.

How To Create A Trust

Questions you have about creating a trust can be easily answered by a trust law attorney from The Van Winkle Law Firm. Once you determine which is the right type of trust for you, your attorney can begin drafting the document on your behalf.

The process of creating a trust starts with you, the trustor or settlor, transferring legal ownership of your property to a trustee, who in turn manages the assets for the beneficiary. A trust establishes a fiduciary relationship between the trustee and beneficiary, where the latter acts exclusively for the best interests of the latter.

From start to finish, creating a trust is a simple process, but it is essential to get all the details correct: the right attorney makes all the difference.

Estate Law: An Overview

Estate law concerns the legal requirements that govern the creation of wills and trusts, among other matters. In addition to federal laws, every state has its own laws for estate planning. Regarding the laws in North Carolina, the estate attorneys at The Van Winkle Law Firm are well versed in all legal requirements concerning the management and distribution of assets for persons and institutions in the state.

Estate Planning

Every person has an estate which is comprised of everything he or she owns (vehicles, real estate, bank accounts, life insurance, etc.). Estate planning involves drafting legally binding documents that manage an estate or control the distribution of assets to beneficiaries after the estate owner’s death. A will or living trust is the first document a person might use to manage assets, although a variety of legal options are available to you, which is why it is advisable to consult an estate planning lawyer regarding the best approach for your situation.

Estate Tax

Estate taxes are levied on the property received by a beneficiary. Twelve states have an estate tax; North Carolina is among the 38 states that have no estate tax. However, beneficiaries in North Carolina are subject to federal estate taxes. There are tax exemptions available based on the value of the transferred assets. An estate attorney can help you determine whether or not estate tax will affect your estate planning.

Elder Law: An Overview

Elder law is a diverse area of law that encompasses a wide range of legal issues that can directly affect the elderly. Such legal matters handled by an elder law attorney span from general powers of attorney and healthcare powers of attorney to advanced healthcare directives and various forms of guardianship.

Because elder law is a specialized area of practice, it is important to find the right elder law attorney who has knowledge of the types of legal proceedings that can address the personal or fiduciary matters affecting yours or a loved one's situation.

Healthcare & Special Needs

Health insurance, Medicare, and Social Security do not always cover the full healthcare costs for the elderly. Planning for long-term healthcare costs is a specialty for elder law attorneys. Planning for long-term healthcare costs, including potential gaps in insurance coverage and other special needs, can ensure you receive the medical treatment you need while limiting the financial burden put on loved ones. To discuss elder law with an attorney at The Van Winkle Law Firm, please contact our offices in North Carolina today.

Designating Beneficiaries

Elder law attorneys can assist in estate planning for elderly clients. By drafting wills and trusts, an attorney can ensure that an elderly person’s assets are distributed per his or her express wishes. Medical issues can become more frequent and unpredictable when people reach advanced ages. An elder law attorney can account for the possibility of unknown health challenges during estate planning.