By Associate Attorney Katy Currie
August is National Make-A-Will Month! While it may not be as fun as celebrating one of August’s other “holidays,” like National S’mores Day (August 10) or National Dog Day (August 26), it is a reminder of the importance of having a will in place to ensure that your loved ones are provided for at your passing.
Some of the most important components of a will are:
1) Naming Beneficiaries to Inherit Your Assets:
A will allows you to specifically provide for the persons or charities of your choosing at your passing. If you pass away without a will in North Carolina, the North Carolina Intestacy Statutes will determine where your assets will go based on your next-of-kin. For any property that was owned joint with rights of survivorship, which is frequently the case with many assets owned by spouses, the asset will pass automatically to the surviving party. As will assets that have a designated beneficiary via a beneficiary designation.
However, this is not the case for any assets that are just in your name when you pass away, even if you are survived by your spouse. Under the North Carolina Intestacy Statutes, most people are surprised to learn that your spouse does not automatically inherit everything. Sometimes parents or half-siblings inherit. Thus, without a will, you may be inadvertently leaving your assets to people who do not need them, or you may be leaving assets to minor children instead of your spouse, who may need the funds to care for your children. A will also allows you to leave assets to more distant relatives, friends, or charities that would be ineligible to inherit through intestacy.
2) Naming an Executor. Your will allows you to name an Executor to manage your assets and distribute them to your beneficiaries at the time of your death. Without a will, you will not have any control over naming the person to manage your affairs at your death and a family member or friend will have to volunteer and seek the court’s approval before being allowed to serve. If someone has a higher degree of kinship than the prospective Executor, they must sign a waiver of their right to serve as Executor (i.e., creating more paperwork for your loved ones). If the person will not waive their right to serve, this may result in a person who is not as well-suited for the job serving as an Executor just because they have a higher degree of kinship than the prospective Executor.
3) Waiving the Executor’s Bond. In North Carolina, an Executor has to pay a bond based on the value of the assets unless (1) it is waived in a will or (2) all heirs sign a waiver to waive the requirement (again, more paperwork for your loved ones). If there are minors or incompetent heirs, they cannot consent, and the bond will be required. Any Executor who is not a North Carolina resident must pay a bond, regardless of the waiver. By planning with a will, you can waive the requirement altogether and make sure your desired Executor is capable of serving.
4) Name a Guardian and Trustee for Minor Children. In North Carolina, the only way to name a guardian for your children if both parents pass away is to name the guardian in a will. Without a will, multiple family members may seek to be appointed a child’s guardian, which may result in fighting or someone serving that you would not have chosen yourself for that role. You can also create a testamentary trust in your will, which allows you to have more control over the age when your children inherit. With this trust, your named Trustee will manage and distribute assets for your children’s benefit until they reach the age where you designate that they can manage the funds on their own. Without a will, any person eighteen years or older can inherit any type of asset without the benefit of a Trustee’s oversight.
If you do not have a will, or your existing will does not accurately reflect your current wishes, use Make-A-Will Month to get a plan in place so that your loved ones are not left with questions or complications if you pass away. Please call Jesson & Rains if you would like to discuss how a will can be tailored to your specific needs and wishes!
By Zach Markle, Law Student Intern
A contractor in North Carolina is smart to triple check their state government contract bids because inaccurate bids sometimes cannot be undone. North Carolina divides mistakes in bids into two classes: “judgment error” mistakes and “clerical error” mistakes.
A “judgment error” mistake may not be undone once the bid is submitted. If a contract submits a bid and makes a mistake in judgment, like misjudging the amount of materials or the length of time needed for a project, he may be stuck with the bid as presented if the contract for the work is accepted. And if that is the case, any shortage in revenue to cover excess costs may have to be paid out of pocket. Further, if the contractor refuses to accept the project, he may forfeit their bid deposit or bid bond and potentially be subject to other penalties.
If a mistake in the bid is a “clerical error,” the consequences are not as severe. North Carolina describes “clerical errors” as “unintentional arithmetic error or unintentional omission” that is related to, among other things, the work, labor, and materials included in the bid. This usually arises when a button is accidentally pressed on a calculator during the input of costs into a spreadsheet or bid software, but it can arise in other ways as well. If the mistake is found to be a “clerical error” and the bid was submitted in good faith, and the contractor can prove it during a hearing with the right evidence, the agency in charge of the project may allow the contractor to withdraw their bid from consideration without having to forfeit their deposit or bond.
In order for a contractor to withdraw their bid, they must submit a request to withdraw in writing within 72 hours after the opening of bids, unless a longer period is specified in the instructions to bidders. They must then attend a hearing by the agency responsible for the project where they will be heard on whether or not they can prove that their bid is eligible for withdrawal.
To make sure you do not spend needed resources or have to deal with added stress to an already stressful process, triple check those bids before submitting them! Should you have any questions about the process or need additional help, please don’t hesitate to call Jesson & Rains today.
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