This morning was so nice, I did my stretching outside on the back porch. It felt like spring — in January. Our Labrador Sofie and I then headed out for a walk. The sun was shining. Two blocks later, we were in a pretty strong rain shower. Again, spring showers, in early January. Sofie and I did what a lot of people do when life throws a curveball. We acted instinctively. I didn’t look at the sky to assess how long the rain might last or whether it might get heavier. I didn’t consider that the shower might go away as fast as it came. We didn’t look around for shelter. We headed home. After all, it was only a couple of blocks. By the time we got home we were soaked — and the rain had stopped. Even then I didn’t think “we’re wet anyway, why don’t we go out and complete our walk?” I went in, grabbed a towel for each of us, fed Sofie, and fixed myself a cup of coffee.
When we do estate planning, we are planning for the curve balls life throws us — the unexpected rain shower on our morning walk. Your plan is a hat, a rain coat, an umbrella, a covered porch to wait out the rain, a friend to wait out the storm with, a connection to a weatherman to tell you what’s next, and a car to pick you up if the shower turns into a storm.
At Clarity Legal Group®, our goal is to give you the peace of mind that you are ready for any curve ball that might come your way. Part of this is having the right plan and the right legal documents. A big part of this is having the right law firm. We want to be the people who come to your mind when your unexpected rain shower comes. Instead of acting instinctively to a change in your health, wealth, family relations, or other life circumstances, you can call me or anyone else on the Clarity team to help you respond effectively to those curveballs.
When we started Clarity Legal Group®, we put together a team of professionals with broad experience and the ability to seamlessly support you as change impacts your life. We are trying in every respect to be the opposite of a transactional law firm (you know, here are your documents, thanks for the check, call us if you need us). After the legal documents are signed and the check comes in, we are still engaged for our clients. We work with clients and their financial advisors and institutions to ensure that the needed changes to asset ownership and beneficiary designations are made. Our attorneys call each of our clients a few weeks after a new plan is established to answer new questions or address new ideas of the client. Then, we have an annual client educational event to review basic strategies and to address changes in the law or planning strategies. We also have an annual Fiduciary School for our clients and their friends or family members who are serving as Executors, Trustees, Powers of Attorney or health care decision makers. We encourage period reviews of your plan, and undertake to remind you when it is time for you to schedule your review.
All of this is intended to foster that peace of mind and also to prepare Clarity Legal Group® clients to recognize when they need draw on our experience or seek our support in response to those curve balls. We can advise our clients when a change in the law might require a change in their plan. Our goal is for our clients to understand when a change in their life might indicate a need to change the plan, or when the experience of the professionals at Clarity Legal Group® might — well — shelter them from the rain.
At Clarity Legal Group®, we support our Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel hill area estate planning clients at a variety of key times:
- Creating your estate plan. Probably the most obvious thing an estate planning attorney does for you is to help you create your estate plan. A well thought out estate plan can achieve numerous goals. At the center of most estate plans is a roadmap for how your assets are to be distributed after death. However, a good plan addresses not only who inherits your assets, but also when and how, identifies key people to manage your affairs in the event of incapacity or death, and addresses the management of your health care in circumstances where you are unable to act for yourself. Lastly, and critically, no estate plan is complete unless the organization and ownership of your assets are in sync with the legal arrangement that controls them.
- Review and update of estate plan. When change happens, whether it is in your family, your health, your wealth, the law, your goals, or sometimes even your age or the age of those who might inherit from you, the estate planning attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® will help you review and revise your initial estate plan, both as a matter of routine and when certain life events call for a more immediate update.
- Managing an inheritance. Sometimes our clients see the challenges of management an inheritance as something that is surprisingly uncomfortable. At Clarity Legal Group® we can help with organizing the inherited assets, introducing a financial or investment advisor, making gifts to other family members, and implementing asset protection strategies.
- Helping an Executor probate an estate. When an individual dies, he/she leaves behind an estate that may be required to go through the legal process known as “probate.” Probate serves many purposes, including identifying and eventually distributing estate assets as well as paying creditors and taxes owed by the estate. If the decedent left behind a Will, the individual appointed to be the Executor is in charge of probating the estate. Clarity Legal Group® not only has experience assisting Executors in managing the ins and outs of probate, but we have the internal infrastructure and professional relationships to deal efficiently with anything that comes up. We’ve worked on estates with family disputes, homes that need major renovations before sale, assets with title problems, pets in crisis who need care and foster homes, and even disputes about the controlling legal documents. Our experience in these matters is another tool for the clients of Clarity Legal Group® to draw on when needed.
- Helping a Trustee administer a trust. Most of the estate planning at Clarity Legal Group® is built around the use of a Revocable Living Trust. This kind of planning either eliminates or radically reduces the exposure of the estate to probate. Trust administration still requires attention to detail and the professionals at Clarity Legal Group® have assisted with all aspects of Trust administration, both in connection with an estate and for ongoing trust arrangements established for spouses, children or other family members. Our assistance includes no only serving as legal counsel but also in the role of educating friends or family members who have been appointed Trustee. In some instances, the attorneys at Clarity Legal Group® will serve as Trustee to ensure that the wishes of a client are carried out.
- Planning for disability and Long Term Care. The attorneys of Clarity Legal Group® are prepared to help with establishing plans to deal with health care changes. We consult with clients who are looking down the road to prepare for what might come up, as well as those facing an immediate crisis. Our attorneys have worked with families whose loved ones face disabilities to establish trusts to protect assets while facilitating access to government or private benefits, which will provide for the needs of the loved one.
- Help with Medicaid planning. This long term care planning often includes Medicaid planning, which looks into the qualification for Medicaid as a means of paying for long term care as well as related asset protection.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys of Clarity Legal Group®
We hope that when life throws a curve ball at our clients, their instinct is to call us for our experience and support. If you have questions or concerns relating to preparing for the unexpected or how the benefits of being Clarity Legal Group® client can make a difference for you, give us a call at 919-484-0012 or contact us online.