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Smith Debnam Attorneys at Law - Estate Planning
Smith Debnam Attorneys at Law - Estate Planning
Smith Debnam Attorneys at Law - Estate Planning

Estate Planning


The experienced professionals at Smith Debnam understand that planning for protecting and transferring family assets is a vital concern of most families. Estate planning ensures that our wishes are honored after we pass away or when something unexpected happens. Planning for the future enables you to control how your assets are distributed and ensure that someone you love and trust has the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you cannot make them for yourself. Suppose you die without an estate plan in place. In that case, your assets will be distributed by the state’s default distribution rules, which will involve probate and may result in your assets being distributed to people you don’t want to receive them by someone you don’t trust. A properly drafted estate plan will permit you to:

  • Provide for yourself and your loved ones through a period of disability or incapacity;
  • Leave what you want, to whom you wish to, in the way that you want;
  • Avoid probate and minimize unnecessary fees and court costs; and
  • Memorialize your legacy.

The process of estate planning involves both emotional and financial considerations. However, drafting an estate plan is an excellent investment in one’s future and provides peace of mind to the person who creates the plan and to family members who have insight into their loved one’s wishes. Our lawyers are prepared to assist with our clients’ specific and unique needs, such as preparing for retirement, complex family relationships, protection of a business interest, or providing for a child or family member with special needs.

Before selecting an estate planning attorney, an excellent first step is to consider what an estate should accomplish specific to your situation. Initiating a discussion about everyone’s interests and preferences helps clarify what actions should be pursued or avoided. One example would be whether specific property or responsibility should go to certain individuals. These sometimes tough conversations will help to develop a list of critical issues to address and goals you would like to accomplish.

With a well-drafted estate plan, clients can take comfort in knowing their estate will pass to whom they want when they want and in the way they intend. Working with a Smith Debnam estate planning attorney ensures one’s wishes will be carried out effectively and efficiently. Some tailored estate plans may include:

  • Drafting last wills and testaments, and trusts for minor children
  • Preparing living wills, health care powers of attorney, and other advance directives
  • Planning for asset management and preservation through the use of powers of attorney or a living trust
  • Establishing life insurance trusts to protect assets and minimize tax burdens
  • Drafting credit shelter, generation-skipping, and special needs trusts
  • Developing lifetime gifting and marital or charitable deduction trusts to minimize or defer estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes
  • Maximizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions
  • Planning for the disclaimer of estate and trust assets
  • Implementing tax-saving gifting plans
  • Creating limited family partnerships and limited liability companies
  • Formulating business continuation plans that preserve family ownership and control of family businesses, or the planned disposition of such enterprises to continuing shareholders
  • Structuring favorable retirement plans and IRA distributions

Our estate planning attorneys assist clients in planning for any future or unforeseen disability by creating legal documents, such as powers of attorney, living wills, and other health care directives. By preparing these documents, clients can clearly state their wishes and name agents to act on their behalf, should they become unable to do so themselves. As a result, estate planning may spare loved ones some of the hardship and difficulty that can arise when no plan is in place. 


From our office in Raleigh, we serve clients throughout central North Carolina. To schedule a consultation with a Raleigh Trusts and Estates attorney at our firm, please call 919-250-2000.

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We are problem solvers, negotiators, and trusted advisors for our clients. Contact us today to experience the Smith Debnam difference.

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