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A Probate Primer

A Probate Primer

What is probate? People often assume when a loved one dies that family members simply divide up the assets according to the last will and testament. In reality, it is not that simple. The executor of the person’s estate cannot simply claim title to a house, car, or other assets and sell or dispose of them. When an individual dies having signed a last will and testament during their lifetime and owning property or other assets in their individual name, their last will is filed with the probate court in their county of residence. The executor works through and under the supervision of the Clerk of Superior Court or comparable probate court to “administer” the deceased’s estate. What happens during the probate process? Lots of paperwork. The executor collects information about the person’s finances, including debts they owe and assets they own individually or jointly with others. The process allows the executor to take control of the deceased’s assets, determine what bills or debts are owed, request permission by the court to sell real estate and other property if required to pay debts or if directed by the last will, with the proceeds being paid to the estate under the supervision of the court. Once the assets have been sold (if necessary to pay debts), all expenses are paid from the estate. Any remaining funds are then distributed to the beneficiaries. It is important to note there may be tax implications for beneficiaries based on the size of the estate and the type of assets distributed, so seeking advice from a licensed CPA is also recommended. Does every estate...
How To Avoid Conflict With Your Business Partner

How To Avoid Conflict With Your Business Partner

According to N.C. Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall, “new business creation filings for 2021 grew 40% over 2020 to total 178,300 new North Carolina businesses.” If you are one of these new business owners, you know how challenging it may be to work with business partners. Here are three steps you can follow to avoid conflict with your business partner. 1. Do Your Research If you are starting a new business with a partner, there are a few things you should be doing to help with any conflicts that may arise. The first is conducting your own research on your potential business partner. Taking the time to research your partner’s work experience, business knowledge and other determining factors that may show their level of expertise is important. Launching a business or company is not easy. Putting in the work to not only find a credible, trustworthy, reliable, and dependable business partner is not something that happens overnight. The initial step of finding the right partner is not a process that should be rushed. The success of your business or organization depends on you doing your research. 2. Communication The key to developing and maintaining a business relationship is communication. Having an open line of communication between you, your business partner and even your team is an important part of preventing or dealing with conflict. Do you know the communication style of your business? Do you the communication style of your business partner? These are questions you should know the answer to. A 2021 article from Indeed lists four communication styles that may impact a work environment. The four...
Three Things to Keep in Mind while navigating the “Great Resignation”

Three Things to Keep in Mind while navigating the “Great Resignation”

The “Great Resignation” continues to be a hot topic for both employees and businesses owners. It’s no secret the traditional workforce as we know is changing. New business startups and established organizations are experiencing the “growing pains” of an evolving workforce. As your business continues to grow, here are three things to keep in mind or know while navigating the “Great Resignation.” 1. What is “The Great Resignation?” The first thing you should know as a business owner is an accurate definition of “The Great Resignation.” If you’re a little confused about “The Great Resignation” and what it really means, here’s some background on where the term came from. According to Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M, the “Great Resignation” is referred to as the “widespread trend of a significant number of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Klotz, who coined the term in a 2021 Bloomberg article, forecasted the rise in employees quitting their jobs. In the original piece, the associate professor says, “When there’s uncertainty, people tend to stay put, so there are pent-up resignations that didn’t happen over the past year.” In December of 2021 alone, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s easy to see why business owners are struggling to keep and recruit new talent. While no one can predict the future of what the workforce will look like in the next few years, it’s important to be well-informed and knowledgeable of all things that will impact your business. 2. Self-care Now that you know the proper definition for “The Great...
Estate Planning Digital Checklist

Estate Planning Digital Checklist

Most of us now have an online presence, whether it is very basic, i.e., email and Facebook, or we do almost everything online. From autopay to online banking to our social media profiles, our estate plans must evolve to cover handling these online accounts upon our passing. The laws in each state regarding digital assets vary, and all are late to the game. This often leaves survivors at a loss. Here is a checklist of things to consider: General Make sure your Executor or a trusted person knows where to find passcodes for your computer, tablet, e-reader, and phone; if you use an online password manager or “vault,” make sure they have the key to access that tool or in the event the password manager has the option name that person as the emergency access contact.Maintain an updated list of all online accounts and logins for your ExecutorProvide access to all your email accounts for monitoring, then closing (note: if you have old accounts you no longer use, you should close them now)In some cases, you may specify how you want your email accounts handled upon your death or after a period of prolonged inactivity. If you do not want anyone to have access to your accounts, your Executor or trusted friend may request the accounts be closed following the terms and conditions outlined by each provider. Google allows for a designated person to have access to an account if there’s a certain period of inactivity which can be selected within the inactive account manager.Remember to provide locations of physical keys for safe deposit boxes, fire boxes, file cabinets,...
Estate Planning Guide for 2022

Estate Planning Guide for 2022

We have updated our Estate Planning guide for 2022. As your life changes, so should your estate plan. Our attorneys answer some common questions in this updated article. Find out the new gift and inheritance tax limits; learn how to avoid probate; discover whether a trust might make sense for you; and more. LEARN...
Attorney Will Miller Receives New Guide Dog

Attorney Will Miller Receives New Guide Dog

As many of you know, Will Miller lost his sight while battling cancer in his twenties. He completed law school and now practices law with the support of a guide dog. His last dog, Anja, passed away in 2019. Will shares his experience on getting a new guide dog. 1. When did you meet your new guide dog? I met Lois in October of 2021 at The Seeing Eye® (TSE), a guide dog school in Morristown, New Jersey. TSE was founded in 1929 in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the oldest existing guide dog school in the United States. There I received training over a span of two weeks. 2. What kind of dog is Lois? Lois, who is 2.5 years old, is mostly yellow Labrador with a mix of golden retriever (one of her “grandparents” was a golden retriever).  3. Why did you choose to go with Lois? I chose to get a guide dog from The Seeing Eye because of their good reputation among blind professionals and the fantastic experience I had with my first guide, Anja, also from The Seeing Eye. The trainers at the Seeing Eye chose Lois for me based on criteria like walking pace, pull resistance (how hard I can tolerate a dog’s pull through the harness handle), demeanor, working and social environment where the guide will work, etc. The trainers had several potential guides in mind for me when I went to the Seeing Eye, and it took several days of observation and training for them to decide that Lois would be the best match for me. 4. What is the process like...
Finding the Best Long-Term Care Facility for a Loved One

Finding the Best Long-Term Care Facility for a Loved One

By Attorney, David Inabinett Placing a loved one in a long-term care facility is often one of the hardest decisions a family must make. As our population has aged, the number and type of these facilities have increased to accommodate the need. There are active adult communities, assisted living facilities, special care units (memory care, palliative care, and others), program of all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE) facilities, and traditional residential skilled nursing care facilities. Also available are progressive care campuses or continuing care retirement communities (CCRT’s) that offer residents a continuum from independent living through full nursing care.   The search to find the “best” or “right” facility can be confusing and stressful. The challenges are compounded when a sudden health issue requires a quick decision. Not all long-term care facilities are created equal, and you want your loved one to have the best care possible. Here are some things to consider and some resources available here in North Carolina to help you make your decision: North Carolina adult care facilities are licensed and inspected by the state. There is a star rating system based on the annual inspection results. You may search by county, city, or facility name. This is a good place to start but should not be the only factor in your decision. The search page is located at http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/acls/star/search.asp. Look at Medicaid’s nursing home comparison tool located at http://medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html. You can choose up to three facilities to compare. Note: Medicare is implementing a new star rating system. You can find a thorough explanation of the new rating system and how to review the facilities...
Employment: Am I an employee or 1099?

Employment: Am I an employee or 1099?

By Attorney, Bradley Hunt The landscape of traditional employment is changing. Whether you’re a traditional employee or a contract one, you should know what type of employment agreement you are signing or adhering to. Understanding the difference between an employee and an independent contractor is important. Traditional vs. Contract According to the Internal Revenue Service  (IRS), there are three categories that must be examined to determine if a person is an employee or an independent contractor. These three categories include: Behavioral Control – covers facts that show if the business has a right to direct and control what work is accomplished and how the work is done, through instructions, training, or other means.Financial Control – covers facts that show if the business has a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job.Relationship of the Parties – covers facts that show the type of relationship the parties had. Unlike behavioral control, relationship of the parties may include details related to but not limited to written contracts, employee benefits, and permanency of the relationship. Independent Contractor While there are many differences between being a traditional employee and a contract worker, there is one main element that applies to contract employees. For a contract worker, the IRS states that “An individual is an independent contractor or 1099 employee if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.” As a contract worker knowing what state or federal laws, rules, or guidelines are applicable to your line of work...
Brinkley Walser Named to “2022 Best Law Firms” for Elder Law and Trusts & Estates

Brinkley Walser Named to “2022 Best Law Firms” for Elder Law and Trusts & Estates

Lexington, NC – David Inabinett, Managing Member of Brinkley Walser Stoner, PLLC, announced today that the firm has been recognized in the 2022 edition of U.S. News-Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” in the Triad for its work in Elder Law and Trusts & Estates Law. “The attorneys at Brinkley Walser Stoner strive to provide the best possible experience for our clients at a time when they need it the most,” says Inabinett. “It is truly an honor to be recognized by our colleagues and peers. I never take for granted the work our firm does and the impact we have on those in the community.” Firms included in the 2022 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must first have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America®, which recognizes 6% of lawyers practicing in the United States. Brinkley Walser Stoner prides itself on providing new and cutting-edge legal counsel built on a foundation of knowledge and integrity. Brinkley Walser Stoner’s attorneys are first and foremost counselors, advising clients on their legal rights and options for appropriate solutions. Practice areas include business law, real estate, litigation, elder law, estate planning, injury and disability, criminal defense, traffic and DWI, banking, family law, municipal, governmental, and education law, among others. Brinkley Walser Stoner is an AV-rated firm by Martindale-Hubble®. The firm has offices at 10 LSB Plaza in Lexington and in the First Citizen’s Building, 620 Green Valley Road, Suite 306, in Greensboro. Visit Brinkley Walser...
Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.” This is just one of many frightening statistics related to domestic violence. Domestic violence impacts everyone, not just the victim. From lost days at work or underperformance to the impact on children who may see and mimic and perpetuate this behavior, we all pay the price. That’s why since 1987, October has been designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” What began as a way for organizations to shine a spotlight on domestic violence issues has now turned into a movement to develop and advance resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence on a national level. Domestic Violence Statistics According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI), “There were 134 victims of domestic violence-related homicide in 2020,” with 77 victims being classified as female and 57 being identified as male. Additionally, the NCSBI reports six commonplace relationships between victim and offender. These relationships are: Current or former spousesPersons who are living together or have lived togetherRelated as parents and children, including others acting as parents of a minor child or as grandparents of grandchildrenHave a child in commonCurrent or former household membersPersons who are in relationship or have been in a relationship Signs of Domestic Violence Abuse often starts with small things and escalates. Abusers often apologize and promise never to hurt you again, but without professional help, they will likely repeat this abuse. Just a few signs of domestic violence include: Trying to distance...
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