Tips for Creating a Family Will


Published:

Worrying about a child’s future is something parents often do. However, many parents procrastinate when it comes to will and estate planning. A will is an important legal document that helps your family prepare for the future in the event that one or both parents are no longer living.

Why Create a Will?

Attorney Ashley Pinner with McCullers, Whitaker & Hamer in Garner says “a will dictates how your estate, or possessions, will be distributed after your death. It is the legal instrument that can dictate guardianship of your children, set up trusts for heirs and dictate your final resting place.”

No parent wants to think about dying and how it will impact his or her child; however, it’s a good idea to ensure that relatives and close friends can carry out your wishes with minimal stress.

“Without a will, an individual’s estate will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of North Carolina, and a guardian will be appointed by a family court judge through a court proceeding,” says Tom McCuiston, attorney with McCuiston Law Offices in Cary. Intestacy refers to the quality or state of being or dying.

Bethany and Jared Reeves of Garner created their wills to be clear on who would take custody of their daughter and what part of their estate belongs to her, if both were to pass. “Nothing is a mystery, nothing has to be decided by strangers,” she says. “We can be sure our daughter will be loved and provided for if we are not around.”

When Should You Create a Will?

Pinner says major life changes — getting married, buying a house, having children or getting divorced, for example — usually catalyze the creation or amendment of a will. Each spouse should create his or her own will, which usually leaves all possessions to each other, and gives everything to their children if both parents pass.

Who Should Draft Your Will?

Some families may opt to go with legal software, but McCuiston notes that it’s typically one-size-fits-all. Wills should be individually tailored, he advises. “There are also tax consequences and other planning issues that only an attorney would be able to advise on,” he says.

Attorney fees to set up a will are often lower than what it costs to hire an attorney to “clean up the mess,” Pinner says. “In regard to wills, one often won’t discover that there is a ‘mess’ until it’s too late — at which point he or she is deceased.”

What is the Process?

Creating a will takes about 30 days, McCuiston says. The process consists of an initial consultation and is followed by compiling information, drafting the will, client review and finally document execution.

Some attorneys provide an estate planning questionnaire for clients to complete. “It helps clients get a better idea of what their estate includes and forces them to think about difficult end-of-life decisions,” Pinner says.

Reeves used the State Employee Credit Union’s estate planning services for her will. She says it was a lengthy process with difficult choices, but “well worth it for the peace of mind.”

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of creating a will can vary depending on complexity. “Usually the cost is for the initial consultation with the attorney (which takes up to one hour) and then the cost of drafting,” McCuiston says. “Often, we have clients that price out LegalZoom or other online options and they find that coming to our office costs just about the same.”

How Do You Find an Attorney?

Ask friends and family, or possibly an accountant for recommendations. Also, check out Internet reviews and the N.C. State Bar’s referral service at ncbar.com.

Keri McManus is a freelance writer and mom, who is interested in all things parenting.

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1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
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