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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I bring to my consultation?
    Other than completing the initial consultation worksheet, you are not required to bring anything with you; however, depending on the nature of the consultation, there are some documents that may be helpful to have for reference. If you are coming for an estate planning consultation and you already have an existing Will or Power of Attorney or other planning documents, it may be helpful for you to bring those with you - particularly if you want to draw the attorney's attention to something specific in your existing documents. If you have on-going child support obligations or unfinished property division matters related to a divorce, consider bringing those documents too. If you are coming for a trust or estate administration consultation, then it would be helpful to bring with you an original death certificate for the deceased person as well as the original of that person's Will or Trust (if one exists).
  • Who can accompany me to my consultation?
    If you are coming for a trust or estate administration consultation, you are welcome to bring a friend or family member with you for support. That person should be able to stay with you for the entirety of the consultation. If you are coming to see us to discuss your estate planning needs, it is still okay to bring a friend or another family member to the consultation for support. However, at some point, the friend or family member will be asked to step out so that the attorney can have one-on-one time with you. This one-on-one time with the prospective client is necessary for the attorney to meet her ethical obligations, which are often referred to as The 4 C's. You may also be interested in the American Bar Association's pamphlet "Why am I left in the waiting room?", which you can read by clicking on the image to the left. As explained in the handout, "We don't want our clients' choices, and the documents they sign, to be undone one day in the future because we allowed family members to be too involved in the matter." We thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.
  • How long does the planning process typically take?
    Based on our years of experience and work with numerous families, we have developed a standard timeline for estate planning matters. From the moment the firm is retained, will-based plans are completed in about 5 weeks. This gives the attorney 2 weeks to draft the plan, 2 weeks for the clients to review the plan, and one week to correct anything in the drafts prior to execution. For trust-based plans, the process typically runs about 8 weeks (3 weeks for the attorney to draft, 3 weeks for the client to review, and 2 weeks to make revisions and get things signed). This timeline can be accelerated, however. We have done plans for people who were dying of cancer and needed to get their affairs in order. We have also helped families who wanted the security of having an estate plan in place prior to vacationing (e.g., families traveling overseas, partners going scuba diving, etc.). Whatever the case, we want to encourage you to make your estate plan a priority because we know the peace of mind that comes from having responsible plans in place for your family! Check out the What to Expect page to learn more about the 5 steps in The Privette Process for estate planning.
  • Where should I store my estate plan?
    The best option is also the simplest option: keep your estate plan at home with you. This does not mean shoving it in your junk drawer or using the paper as emergency kitty litter. It means storing it in a safe, secure location. We recommend our clients use a fireproof-waterproof lock box. Some lawyers have suggested putting your plan in a heavy duty freezer bag and storing it in a deep freezer. The rationale behind this is that a deep freezer (or even your refrigerator) can survive most catastrophes, including natural disasters. We don't necessarily think you need to go that far, but it is important that your estate plan be readily accessible by your family in an emergency or after your death. For more options about where to store your estate plan, check out our recently updated blog post: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 5 Options for Storing Your Will
  • When should my estate plan be updated?
    Estate plans are a lot like cars—they need to be maintained in order to work effectively. The only thing worse than not having a plan at all is having a plan that is out of date and no longer accomplishes your goals for your family! If your estate plan has been sitting on a shelf or lying in a drawer gathering dust, it's likely time for it to be updated or, at the very least, reviewed by an estate planning attorney. Aside from the mere passage of time, here are six reasons or signs that you need to update your estate plan. You may not be aware of changes that have happened in the law (#6) and whether those changes affect your family and the design of your existing plan, but your attorney certainly will be! If you don't have an attorney and would like us to conduct an audit review of your existing documents to see if any updates or changes are warranted, please e-mail us at or give us a call at (919) 678-5761. We'd be happy to help!
  • If I need to make changes to my existing estate plan, can you help?
    Absolutely! If you are a prior client of ours, simply call us at (919) 678-5761 or email us at to let us know the changes that are needed, and we will work with you to update your estate plan. If your existing estate plan was not prepared by us, then we will most likely treat this as a new engagement for estate planning. To learn more about our five-step process for estate planning, check out the What to Expect page for Amy's videos about The Privette Process. If you are ready to move forward, download and fill out the Estate Planning Worksheet then contact our office to get the process started!
  • Will my estate plan still be valid if I move to a different state?
    100% yes! Legal documents authored in one state are recognized and accepted in every other state in the United States. However, just because your estate plan is valid in your state, that does not necessarily mean that your plan is as good as it could be. This is why moving to a new state is one of the Top 6 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan. First of all, estate planning laws vary from state to state. For example, some states impose an inheritance tax at the state level, whereas North Carolina does not. Some states have better asset protection laws than North Carolina in the event you were to be sued. In order to plan strategically for the impact of a state inheritance tax, take advantage of the more robust asset protection laws, or otherwise benefit from the laws of your new state, you would want your estate plan to be reviewed by an attorney licensed in that state. Also, when it comes to something like your medical care, it would be best to give the hospital a medical directive in a format that they are used to seeing. Presenting them with out-of-state documents could result in a delay in treatment as they are trying to decipher what the document allows, what authority has been granted to your health care agent, and what sorts of life-prolonging measures you have approved. To make sure your wishes are honored and matters are handled expediently, you will be better served by having medical directives from your new state.
  • If something happens to me, can you work with my family to make sure my wishes are carried out?
    Absolutely! It would be our honor to help your family during this most difficult time. There is no requirement that you be a prior client of ours in order for us to help when the time comes. We have worked with people in Colorado, Texas, New York, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and even Italy who needed assistance handling a loved one's affairs. If you are already our client and would like the people in your plan to meet with Amy now so they can learn more about their responsibilities and what will be required of them when the time comes, consider setting up a Family Roundtable. Investing the time now, while you are healthy, happy, and life is good, to make sure everyone knows their roles and what to do will help things operate more smoothly when they are called upon to act.
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