FAQs From Our Clients

Frequently Asked Questions

Real Estate

There have been certain discoveries and our closing is delayed. How long can we push back our closing without being in breach of contract and incurring additional expenses?

Answer

The North Carolina Offer to Purchase and Contract Form 2-T has a built-in 14-day grace period  assuming all parties are acting in good faith. But the answer to whether there is a breach of contract and/or the requirement to pay additional expenses is very fact specific and will typically require additional input before a final answer is reached.

Am I entitled to my due diligence if…?

Answer

Due Diligence on a real estate contract is due the second the contract is signed by all parties and is typically not refundable to the buyer absent an agreement to the contrary.  You are paying for the right to have a period of time available to the you, the buyer, to conduct your inspections and whatever “due diligence” you need to conduct during which time the seller cannot sell to another person.  The buyer may also terminate the contract during the due diligence period for any reason or no reason but is typically not allowed to receive a refund of those funds.

My name is the only name on the Deed and Deed of Trust. Why does my spouse need to sign?

Answer

In North Carolina, absent an agreement to the contrary, a spouse automatically gains a marital interest in property acquired by either spouse during the marriage.  Even if your spouse is not on the Deed and is not a co-borrower, if there is no legal release of their marital rights in the property, the lender is likely to require your spouse to sign in order to encumber their inherent marital rights in the property.  The lender is the one writing the check so they have the ultimate decision making authority on this.

Estate Planning

What exactly is a trust? Is it essential to my estate plan?

Answer

A Trust is a legal vehicle to hold property and assets for the benefit of another person. It’s not essential, and the decision of whether or not to put one into place for yourself and your heirs is  complex discussion involving many factors. Please consult with our office so we can discuss with you what you’d like to accomplish and guide you in the right direction.

Where should I store my documents?

Answer

Unfortunately, if anything were to happen to your original documents you effectively have no estate plan.  Therefore, it is imperative that you store your documents somewhere that is (a) safe from fire or other catastrophe and (b) able to be accessed by your next of kin in the event that they need access to your documents. We typically recommend a fire proof safe in your home. The alternative is a safety deposit box at your bank. If you choose this option you should have an additional signer on the box, someone you trust absolutely, and directions as to how to access that box if you’re not around to give those directions.

Should I give copies of my documents to my Agents?

Answer

Only if you need them to utilize your documents immediately.  If you have documents that won’t be needed by your agents until or unless you’re incapacitated you would be better served to hold on to the originals as previously suggested so that in the event that you make changes to your documents you won’t need to gather originals from other people in order to replace them.

How often should I update my estate plan?

Answer

We try to make things as seamless as possible for you, our valued client.  As such, our plans are intended to grow with you. However, it’s always a good idea to periodically review your estate plan to make sure it still embodies your wishes.  You should also plan on reviewing and updating your plan whenever you have a major life change, such as the addition of a child, an out of state move, or other major life event.

Should my Executor and Trustee be the same person?

Answer

The answer to that question really depends on your personal situation. They can be the same person or they can be different people. You can also elect to have a corporate Trustee if you wish.  The thing to keep in mind is that the Trustee will probably be serving for a longer period of time than your Executor, depending on how long you want your beneficiaries to wait before being completely vested in their inheritance. 

How does trust creation effect my current investment accounts?

Answer

Typically not.  If you put a Revocable Living Trust in place, which is the bulk of the Trusts we implement for our clients, nothing much changes right now.  You will want to change your beneficiaries on your investment accounts so that when you pass your assets contained in these accounts are governed by your Trust directives.

What type of special needs warrant a special needs trust?

Answer

Typically someone would want to consider a Special Needs Trust if they have or will need assets for support that are over and above the amount allowed under SSI, Medicaid, or other governmental benefits limits. In addition, if an individual needs help managing their funds because they are unable to do so themselves, the family may want to consider such a trust for the benefit of the person who needs the assistance.  This allows for both protection of the funds from governmental interference and also from potential predatory individuals encroaching on the persons assets. 

Probate

Who pays for the probate attorney?

short answer

The estate.

Long answer

The executor typically doesn’t pay out of pocket for fees incurred during probate administration, and the Probate fees are paid through the estate. 

How much does probate cost? How long does the probate process take?

short answer

It varies. 

Long answer

One common concern among our client executors is the overall cost and timeframe of probate matters. The truth is, these estimates vary significantly depending on the specific details of each case. Our attorneys handle a high percentage of probate administration outside of litigation, which dramatically reduces the cost to our clients.

In addition, our attorneys have found that the most significant variables contributing to the cost and duration of your case are largely determined by three factors: the general preparedness of the deceased member, the level of cooperation from the family involved, and the amount of assets and debts being evaluated.

What is an executor and how are executors chosen?

Answer

If there is a will, the executor is named by the deceased person whose will is being carried outprobated.


If there is not a will, the immediate family members of the deceased will choose an executor. In the case where the family needs to choose an executor, all immediate family members will need to agree and sign an affidavit that states they all agree.

My spouse passed away and I need to transfer his car into my name. What do I do?

Answer
A significant segment of the population will never have to go through probate. For example, spouses typically don’t need to go through probate at all, because when one spouse passes, the majority of the deceased spouse’s estate would go to the surviving spouse, which wouldn’t usually require probate to resolve. 

 

There are some instances where a spouse might have to go through a small estate administration or a Spousal Years Allowance to transfer title of certain assets (e.g. a car) to the surviving spouse’s name.

My relative passed without a will. What are the next steps to sell the home?

Answer

If there was another person on the deed with the deceased relative, that person can usually sell immediately.  However, if the person who passed was the only person on the title of the home, a probate action will have to be started, including a determination of the appropriate heirs, before the home can be transferred to a buyer.

How soon can we sell the property?

Answer

There are several factors that go into this answer, and an attorney in our office can help you determine the exact answer after discussing all the issues with you.  Generally speaking, though, the property can be sold within a few weeks of the probate case being opened with the court.

About Shepard Law

Does your firm accept legal insurance plans offered through employers? 

short answer

Yes

Long answer

Shepard Law proudly accepts MetLife and ARAG group insurance plans.  In many instances, these plans will pay all, or a significant portion, of your fees to Shepard Law.