There are many steps that North Carolina residents and others need to take to create an adequate estate plan. The first step is to create an inventory of their personal and business assets. It will also be necessary to either estimate their value or have them appraised by a professional. Individuals will need to decide who will inherit their assets and whether they will be transferred through a will or a trust.

A person who wants to avoid probate will likely want to put assets in a trust as opposed to using a will. Avoiding probate may make it easier to transfer assets to the intended beneficiaries in a timely manner as well as minimize the cost of doing so. When a person dies, property held in the trust will be overseen by a trustee. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to a beneficiary, which means that he or she must always act in the best interests of that individual.

It may be a good idea to create an estate plan with the help of an attorney or financial adviser. An estate planning professional may help a person learn more about estate, gift or inheritance taxes that the estate or a beneficiary might owe. In some cases, these taxes will be levied at both the state and federal levels.

Working with an attorney who has experience with trust planning may make it easier for an individual to create an estate plan that meets his or her needs. An attorney may help create a trust or review other plan documents that a person has already created. If necessary, legal counsel may be able to help a client alter plan documents in a manner that adheres to applicable state laws.