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Wills, Elder Care & Estate Administration

Wills

I am Clarke Kent Wittstruck, an Asheville family law attorney and, for over 20 years, as part of my practice I have prepared simple Wills and administered Estates for my clients.

I represent lots of different people. Some are wealthy; most are not. I tell them all the same thing: they are going to die. And when they do what they should aim for is this: don't leave a mess and don't leave a dispute. A Will can help accomplish this.

A Will is for your survivors, not you. It is to help your survivors locate, divide, distribution and dispose of your property. And it will help them avoid a dispute over what you intended to happen to your property. So just do it. What most clients need when they come to my office, is for me to push them to deal with multiple contingencies - if a child predeceases, if they become incompetent, if they must go into a nursing home, if they die while their children are still young, etc. - face up to what lies ahead and form a workable plan and don't leave a mess.

Clients come to my office and I tease them about their current "mess" - from the lack of a burial/cremation plan to the ancient stuff they have in their attic. But more than focus them on what will happen upon their death, I want to focus them on what their situation is right now and what situation they would leave if they died tomorrow. Do you have a burial/cremation plan? Do your survivors know your banking business and have a list of your accounts? Have you provided a power of attorney if you have a stroke and can no longer communicate? Are you leaving a mess?

If you fail to plan for your death you will cost your survivors not only time but a great deal more money. It may also cause your survivors to bicker over who gets what and whether the division is fair or what you really wanted, etc - just what you wanted to avoid. Such disputes are messy and emotional and lucrative for the lawyers. Such disputes are also completely avoidable if you take the time to organize your affairs and write your intentions down in a Will.

Elder Care

Elder care issues usually involve planning for a time when you will no longer be competent to make decisions on your own. These range from dementia, nursing homes, guardianships, trusts, power of attorney, assisted living, , and especially Medicaid and Medicare. It's always better if you are doing the planning for yourself while there is still time to competently attend to business. But what is more often the case it's your children sitting in my interview room wanting to know what to do and who to turn to. You've left a mess: limited options and cumbersome court proceedings giving those who have the responsibility of caring for you the legal ability to do so. One day you may wake up and not recognize your care giver because your mind is slipping away slowly. This is hard enough on the people who love and care for you. Don't add to this by making them sort through your care options as well. So make a plan. My job is to point you in the right directions and, ultimately, push you to timely make the decisions you need to make so not to unduly burden your potential care givers.

Tomorrow May Never Come. There is much to be said for living each day like it it's your last. But few people do this. Instead they believe, deep down, an exception will be made for them. Doubtful. But as a result their financial affairs go unorganized and scattered and the mess they have today will be left for the tomorrow which did not come. So, if nothing else, a Will may help you focus your mind a bit in how to start getting the mess organized.

The answer is really simple: just do it. If you like the idea of preparing a Will on the internet, fine. Just do it. If you are interested in me helping you sort through your options, set up an appointment.

Pricing

Wills

$300 - Individual
$400 - Married Couple
Includes initial consultation

These are flat legal fees to meet with you, diagnosis your situation, challenge how you value your properties, discuss who - friend, relative, organization - has been important in your life and who is trustworthy to administer your estate as you would, figure out how to start cleaning up your mess, and, oh yes, prepare your Will. I think the prices are a good value even though you can download a Will on the internet for less.

There seem to be a thousand websites willing to sell you a Will form. And really, most will probably get the basic legal job done. But that's not what I do. I can prepare a Will in literally seconds once I have your basic intake. Computers are pretty amazing for this sort of thing. And when I was younger that's what I thought clients wanted: a fast and cheap Will. Now, 25+ years in, having raised three children, buried two parents and litigated some of the nastiest Will disputes imaginable (nothing is meaner), I no longer do fast Wills. Instead I talk to you for as long as I have time and try to figure out your situation and what you need to do. Making you deal with your mess is really the job I do. Oh yes, I also prepare your Will.

I send people with complicated Will needs - assets in excess of $600,000 - to my spouse who specializes in Wills, Trusts and Estates. Instead I prepare Wills for people of lesser means who just want matters to go smoothly without a dispute. But what usually is the case is YOU need to think matters through and YOU need help getting your stuff organized. So I keep poking you about what happens tomorrow if you die tonight. I do this because I realize nobody else does.

Now days, even though I am much faster at drafting a Will, instead of you walking out of my office with you completed Wills on your first visit, you go home to think about things. Then we fine tune what you need via email drafts. I do what needs done until it gets done - until you fully understand and are happy with your documents. Then you come back, we get things signed and copies are made for whoever needs a copy.

To qualify for the fees above you must complete my will questionnaire prior to your first appointment. When you make the appointment I will send you the Will questionnaire link to get you started and help me start a file. This allow us more time to talk and visit and get a better understanding of what is important to you and what you need in a Will. The additional costs below are for additional provisions which may be applicable to your situation. These prices are only good if the additional document is processed at the same time as your Will.

Additional Wills Costs:

$100 Add a Child Trust Provision to Will
$60 Prepare a General Power of Attorney (POA)
$60 Prepare a Health Care Power of Attorney (HPOA)
$20 Prepare a Declaration for Natural Death ("Living Will")

Elder Law Issues

$1500 Establish a Guardianship
$1500 Prepare a Living Family Trust
$1500 Prepare a Special Needs Trust
In all cases you are responsible for all costs

NC Estate Administration

$2000 - Estate Administration

This is my legal fee to Administer a basic Estate valued under $600,000. This fee includes preparation of: Application for Administration, 90 Day Inventory, Oath, Order, Letters Testamentary, Notice to Creditors, Tax Certification, Final Accounting, and all Conferences with the Clerk of Court. I charge extra if the Estate has stock or retirement accounts which must be distributed and/or if the deceased owned a business at the time of death. I charge my regular hourly billing for litigation involving an Estate.

In all cases you are responsible for all costs